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Winter Gardens I: Pavilion


The Grand Pavilion was built as a glass-domed winter garden giving the complex its name, and converted to a theatre (the original design having proved acoustically disastrous) by Thomas Mitchell in 1889. The present auditorium of 1896-97 is by well known theatre architects Wylson & Long. It is no longer a theatre, the proscenium stage having been blocked off, the stalls levelled and a restaurant formed in the stage house, but it is still a most impressive space. The vestigial forestage must now be entered through the auditorium doors. It is surrounded by a wide, encircling arched ambulatory, linking it to the rest of the complex. A splendidly opulent apsidal-ended music hall interior, it has two balconies, supported on iron columns, running round three sides, the first with nine rows in the centre, the second with twelve rows, set back to the line of the sixth row of the balcony below. The sides curve round to meet superimposed stage boxes framed between giant enriched composite columns surmounted by segmental pediments. Richly decorated proscenium arch with rounded corners, scrolled plasterwork to the tympanum and encrusted balcony fronts. Very richly decorated ceiling over the whole space with caryatids rising through the perimeter cove to support a centre divided into deeply coved panels ornamented by garlands. The alterations to the stage could, if the opportunity arose, be restorable. As a theatre or concert hall it would seat perhaps 1200. In April 2014 the Winter Gardens was successful in being awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to develop plans for a museum of Blackpool’s heritage. The intention was that the museum would partly be housed within the Pavilion, however this project is no longer going ahead. In July 2018, Selladoor Worldwide and Blackpool Entertainment Company formed a short-term partnership to bring theatre back to the venue for a limited period. This has since ceased but is seen as a step towards potential live performance reuse for the venue. While the Pavilion has been in partial use as a part of the larger, operational Winter Gardens complex, it is considered extremely vulnerable. Restoration works are required and the scale of the repairs growing. There has been little progress on the Pavilion Theatre while the council has needed to focus resources on other more urgent repair works within the complex.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1878 : Entertainment and Events Venue, continuing
Current state
Current use
Theatre (currently at risk)
Further details
Other names
(Grand) Pavilion , Winter Gardens Theatre
  • 1878 Design/Construction:
    Thomas Mitchell
    - Architect
  • 1878 Use: Entertainment and Events Venue, continuing
  • 1878 - 1895 Owner/Management: Winter Gardens Co (W Holland & successors)
  • 1889 Alteration: converted to theatre
    Thomas Mitchell of Oldham
    - Architect
  • 1897 Alteration: auditorium altered to regular theatre form, with raked floor
    Wylson & Long
    - Architect
  • 1928 Owner/Management: Blackpool Tower Company
  • 1982 Alteration: Dickinson Partners, stalls rake removed; converted for multiple use/conference hall
    - Architect
  • 1986 Alteration: Dickinson Partners, auditorium reopened to ambulatory
    - Architect
  • 1986 Owner/Management: First Leisure Corporation
  • 1998 - 2010 Owner/Management: Leisure Parcs Ltd
  • 2010 Owner/Management: Blackpool Council, owner
  • 2010 Owner/Management: Crown Entertainment Centres Ltd, operator
  • 2015 Owner/Management: Blackpool Entertainment Company Ltd, operator
  • 2018 - 2019 Owner/Management: Blackpool Entertainment Company Ltd / Selladoor Worldwide, operators (from 2018-2019)
  • Capacity
    1912: 3500
    1975: 1771
    1967: 1937
  • Capacity
  • Listing
Stage type
Proscenium Raked
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: -
Proscenium width: 31ft 6in
Height to grid: -
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: Originally for 16 None now