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The Empress Ballroom, Blackpool

Part of the Winter Gardens Complex

Blackpool Theatres Index - Blackpool Theatres Article by Donald Auty

The Empress Ballroom, Blackpool in November 2013 - Photo M. L.

Above - The Empress Ballroom, Blackpool in November 2013 - Photo M. L.

 

The Empress Ballroom, Blackpool in November 2013 - Photo M. L.The Empress Ballroom is situated in the Winter Gardens Complex, Blackpool and was mostly completed in the summer of 1896 when it was first opened for a short season. The main entrance to the Ballroom was through the newly created Empress Buildings in Church Street, which led people thorough the Italian Gardens and beside the Indian Lounge, and the just completed Giant Ferris Wheel.

Towards the end of the First World War, in 1918, the Empress Ballroom was taken over by the Admiralty as a space to assemble Gas Envelopes for their R.33 Airship. Thankfully the Ballroom was handed back the following year and some restoration work undertaken although the room's 3 original chandeliers were not reinstated, however, 13 new ones were hung in their place.

Right - The Empress Ballroom, Blackpool in November 2013 - Photo M. L.

The Ballroom had a new sprung floor fitted in 1934 which apparently involved fitting 10,000 strips of oak, mahogany, walnut, and greenwood, on top of 1,320 four inch springs, and covering some 12,500 foot.

The Ballroom is lavish in style, with a wonderful Barrel Vaulted Ceiling and ornate balconies surrounding its huge sprung dance floor. It also has a small stage in the middle of the Hall and has been host to an array of events over the years including political party conferences and musical concerts. It is linked to the adjoining Arena, formerly the Indian Lounge, and is 49 metres long by 24 metres wide, with a height of 19 metres.

There are some early images of the Empress Ballroom below.

You may like to visit the Winter Gardens' own Website here.

 

Some early images of the Empress Ballroom, Blackpool

An early postcard depicting the Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens, Blackpool

Above - An early postcard depicting the Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens, Blackpool

An early colour postcard depicting the Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens, Blackpool

Above - An early colour postcard depicting the Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens, Blackpool

The Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool - From a 1938 programme for the Winter Gardens Complex

Above - The Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool - From a 1938 programme for the Winter Gardens Complex - Caption reads: -'GALA NIGHT AT THE EMPRESS BALLROOM (specially drawn by Fortunino Matania, R.I.). The famous ballroom of the Blackpool Winter Gardens, which can dance over three thousand people simultaneously on its new Wonder Dance Floor, pictured in carnival dress by the famous artist, who has graphically captured the spirit and zest for pleasure of Blackpool's revellers, which presents a spectacle of majesty, colour and dance unequalled in any other ballroom in Europe. Like the famous Tower Ballroom it also has a wonder Wurlitzer Organ (shown below). It is here that the world's greatest dancing championships are held annually in May, namely, the British Professional and British Amateur Ballroom Championships.

A photograph of the Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Console which was originally installed at the Empress Ballroom, Blackpool.  - Courtesy Alan Ashton

Above - A photograph of the Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Console which was originally installed at the Empress Ballroom, Blackpool. This 1981 photograph shows the Organ after it had been moved to the Hulme Playhouse - Courtesy Alan Ashton who says: 'The organ was originally from the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, and was eventually removed and the pipework incorporated in the Wurlitzer in the Assembly Hall at Worthing. The console itself is now, I understand, in the ownership of a private collector.' - Alan Ashton.

If you have any more information or images for the Empress Ballroom that you are willing to share please Contact me.