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WINTER GARDENS WEBSITE - www.blackpoollive.com

Early attractions included ornamental gardens, a lake, and an outdoor skating rink (the site of which later became a Noah’s Ark for performing animals and then, in 1896, the site of the Empress Ballroom).

Twice daily an orchestra played in the Grand Pavilion, which could seat 3,000; and beneath the Pavilion were a stalactite cave and a grotto.

An announcement by the Blackpool Winter Gardens and Pavilion Co. Ltd. in 1889 enticed prospective visitors with a description of the facilities: “The Pavilion: the handsomest room in the Kingdom devoted to grand concerts, spectacular and special entertainment for up to 12,000 people; a Circus accommodating 3,000; and a Skating Rink with room for 2,000. The Floral Hall extends the whole length of the building and contains numerous magnificent palms. The Fernery is acknowledged as the finest ever constructed. It contains several superb tree ferns 30-40 ft. high, lovely ferns and waterfalls make this a perfect paradise. The Grounds are vast and elegantly laid out with Italian and landscaped gardens, and a first-class bowling green.”

The Winter Gardens did not prove to be as successful as the company had hoped and in 1887 they hired the well-known and successful London Theatre Manager Bill Holland to run the complex. He aimed to present the finest entertainment in the palatial surrounds of the Grand Pavilion and brought with him the well known choreographer Paul Valentine, who had been responsible for successful West End shows. Holland immediately laid a 100 guinea carpet on the floor and when it was suggested to him that the lower classes might possibly spit on it, ever the showman, he advertised “Come to the Winter Gardens for 6d. (sixpence) and spit on Bill Holland’s 100 guinea carpet”!

In 1889 came a further attraction when the Opera House, designed by the distinguished theatre architect, Frank Matcham, opened on June 10 with a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Yeoman of the Guard.

The Winter Gardens were, in fact, facing strong competition that year with the opening of the rival Tower, roof garden, and Tower Ballroom. Holland’s response was to plan the building of a bigger Ballroom with a floor of 188ft x 109ft, a Big Wheel, and an Italian Garden with a grotto at its Eastern end. These new attractions opened in 1896, but, alas, Holland did not see them; he had died suddenly the previous year.

It is now the venue of all the most important social gatherings in Blackpool and the Fylde district.
In 1878 the Grand Pavilion opened as a “promenading concert hall for first-class musical entertainment and other purposes of public recreation”.

The official opening of the Winter Gardens in 1879 by the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Owden, was a very grand affair.
The opening was followed by a banquet in the Pavilion, a concert, fireworks display, and a torchlight procession. The town council had voted a grant of £500 for the occasion and the distinguished visitors were entertained for several days, the festivities including a State ball and the resultant publicity must have been invaluable.

In the earliest 1d (penny) guide, printed shortly after the official opening, the public were advised that “This noble pile of a building is so easily discerned from any part of town that it acts as a gigantic fingerpost”.

 
Mar-Ray Guesthouse
56 Springfield Road
Blackpool
FY1 2BA
Tel: 01253 621230

BOOK NOW EASTER 2014
18th -21st April 2014
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SHOWZAM 2014
14th - 23rd February 2014
Blackpool - Various Locations

SING-A-LONG-A-GREASE
15th February 2014
Blackpool Grand Theatre

SHANE FILAN
1st March 2014
Blackpoo Opera House

FLEETWOOD MAC
6th March 2014
Blackpool Opera House

38TH BLACKPOOL CHESS CONFERENCE
7th - 9th March 2014
Blackpool Imperial Hotel

THE OVERTONES
14th March 2014
Blackpool Opera House

HAIR FAIR
16th - 17th March 2014
Blackpool Winter Gardens

JANE MCDONALD
28th March 2014
Blackpool Opera House

DANIEL O'DONNELL
14th April 2014
Blackpool Opera House

DERREN BROWN
12th May 2014
Blackpool Opera House


VEGAS RAT PACK
24th May 2014
Blackpool Grand Theatre

SISTER ACT
28th-31st May 2014
Blackpool Grand Theatre

LITTLE MIX
2nd June 2014
Blackpool Opera House

BLACKPOOL PRIDE
14th June 2014
Blackpool Winter Gardens

MAMMA MIA
20th June - 14th Sept 2014
Blackpool Opera House

WORLD DARTS
19th - 27th Jul 2014

Blackpool Winter Gardens

REBELLION 2014
7th-10th August 2014
Blackpool Winter Gardens

ILLUMINATIONS 2014
29th Aug - 9th Nov 2014
Blackpool Promenade

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