For a start, The Winter Gardens is one of only a few surviving examples of its time. Retaining many of its stunning, original Victorian features, including a breath-taking mosaic tiled floor, and marble steps leading to a jaw-dropping auditorium, the venue is more than just a place to watch a show. A work of architectural art, it’s been in existence since the early days of music halls to wartime concert parties, right through to the golden era of variety. It’s hosted Hollywood stars, operas and amateur dramatics.
Once known as the Victoria Pavilion, it opened in 1897 and could seat over 2000 people. At that time it boasted a ballroom, several bars, a billiard hall and even an aquarium! Now, it stands just as proudly on the seafront, and while it closed for some years in the late seventies, the building, which was suffering structurally at the time, now pulls in visitors from around the county and further afield. It’s a prominent landmark with an illustrious past, and the building is one of just six per cent of listed properties of its kind. It’s something the Friends know all about, since establishing the volunteer group back in 1986, in response to the theatre falling into disuse.
The Friends have one aim: reopen the building that was once at the very heart of Morecambe’s exciting entertainment scene. Registering it as a charity in 1997, they put everything they had into raising the funds needed to purchase the building. Cleaning the venue and carrying out urgent repairs, they formed The Preservation Trust in 2006 in a bid to revive the venue’s listed status.
It worked, of course. The building may have a wintry-sounding name, but there’s plenty of life left in this old venue. So wrap up, bundle in and enjoy everything this prestigious Morecambe building has to offer. Lights, camera…action!