Bridlington Theatres and Halls
Above - Auditorium of the Spa Theatre, Bridlington in 1990 - Courtesy Ted Bottle
The Spa Theatre was built in 1896 by S. Dyer, but was rebuilt in 1907 following a fire. This is the theatre that is still in use today and has a seating capacity of 1031. For more history and booking details for current productions at the Spa Theatre you may like to visit the Theatre's own Website here.
Right - In 2006 the whole of the Spa complex was extensively refurbished. Click for details and many images.
Right - A Page from a 'Palace of Varieties' programme at the Spa Theatre Bridlington with details of attractions.
Left - A Programme for 'Palace of Varieties' at the Spa Theatre Bridlington.
You may like to Visit the Spa's own Website here.
Left - The Auditorium of the Spa Theatre, Bridlington in 1990 - Courtesy Ted Bottle
In 2006 the whole of the Spa Complex was extensively refurbished. For details and many images Click Here.
The Grand Pavilion, Bridlington was built in 1937 and is still in use today as a multi-purpose venue called 3B's Theatre. Although the exterior is nothing special the Art Deco interior is largely still intact.
Stephen Handley, whose Great Grandfather J. M. Smallwood was responsible for rebuilding the Spa Royal Hall after a fire in 1932 has kindly sent in the following information and pictures.
The SPA ROYAL HALL, opened in 1926, it was destroyed by fire at the end of January 1932. This was a disastrous loss. The council realising how essential it was to rebuild in time for the summer season, if many thousand visitors were not to be disappointed, lost no time in settling the insurance claim and proceeded with the erection of the new hall.
Right - The First Spa Royal Hall, destroyed by fire in 1932 - From the book Bridlington 1899 - 1949 - Courtesy Stephen Handley.
It was with the co-operation of the council and its architect Mr P M Newton and the contractors (Messrs J.M.Smallwood & Sons)...My Great Grandfather, and their various sub-contractors, and with the loyal efforts of all employees, that the new building rose like a phoenix from the ashes of the old.
From the time work actually began until the building was opened, it was a matter of no more than 56 days...True, the building was not completely finished and decorated, but it was possible to use the building for at least part of the 1932 summer season.
Left - J. M. Smallwood - Courtesy his Great Grandson Stephen Handley.
The Royal Hall, therefore was opened at 6 p.m. on the 30th July... the workmen going out by one door as the Mayor (Councillor J.A. Dew J.P), who performed the opening ceremony, entered at the other door.
Right - In 2006 the whole of the Spa complex was extensively refurbished. For details and many images Click Here.
The SPA, experts declared it to be one of the finest, if not the finest of its kind in England... For dances, concerts and large gatherings and of course exhibitions... The cost was £51,298 of which about £33,000 was received from the Insurance Company.
Left - The second Spa Royal Hall, built by Messrs J.M.Smallwood & Sons From the book Bridlington 1899 - 1949 - Courtesy Stephen Handley.
Some other interesting facts:-
The book I am taking these facts from is very interesting and my parents have never shown this to me before, so it is all new to me. My Great Grandfather also built Bridlington Town Hall.
Above text and images kindly sent in by Stephen Handley, Great Grandson of J. M. Smallwood.
By Donald Auty
I only did one summer season in Bridlington but it was a humdinger. The social life with those hospitable East Riding of Yorkshire people was out of this world. I was at the Grand Pavilion which eventually became the Three Bees Cabaret Bar and I believe is now a night club. It was a fully fledged Theatre then seating around 1100 people and thus was much larger than the Spa Theatre that still exists, so big names could be presented. There was a good holiday audience in the town those days composed mainly of holiday makers from Leeds, Bradford, the West Riding of Yorkshire woollen towns, Sheffield, and the steel manufacturing area, and quite a few from the North East of England. The town could support a top class summer show for a period of twelve weeks.
Right - Flyer for 'Palace of Varieties' at the Spa Theatre Bridlington. Year Unknown.
The theatre was art deco with audience all on one level. It had a good stage with flys even if it was a little shallow and a grand master electrical switchboard so we were well set up. The shows were presented by Richard Stone who was probably better known as a top agent. He was a charming ex army colonel who had been in charge of forces variety entertainment during the war and he also presented shows in Scarborough, Weston Super Mare and various other top resorts. He supplied revue companies to various Butlins Holiday camps and the productions were first class especially with costumes which his wife Sarah supervised with an eagle eye.
The top of the bill was Adam Faith who was young and unruly in those days and we tried the variety bill part of the show out at the Sunderland Empire for a week prior to the season starting. It was a disastrous and exceedingly sad time. Adam's band were traveling to Sunderland in a van and had a crash on the Great North Road on their way there and one of the band was killed. This was in the early hours of Monday morning and the show opened on Monday night. Adam opened and I greatly admired him for this for the rest of his life.
We did two weeks of variety prior to the main season with two grand pianos and drums in the orchestra pit. This was a very popular combination in a lot of smaller summer theatres and the sound was exceedingly good. The bill toppers were Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd for one week, and Joan Turner for the second. There was a distinctly holiday atmosphere amongst both artistes and staff in these pre season variety bills and some good times, some of them unprintable, were had by all in the Ridings Hotel across the road from the theatre when the once nightly show had finished. The main summer show was big with a ten piece orchestra ten dancers two comedians Tom Mennard and Bobby Dennis, the stilt specialty act, Jean and Peter Barbour, a girl singer and soubrette, in addition to Adam Faith and his group. We packed the shallow stage with scenery and a wonderful blessing we only did twice nightly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The rest of the week we only did one show per night which was a very rare occurrence in 1963.
Left - In 2006 the whole of the Spa complex is being extensively refurbished. For details and many images Click Here.
All the shows used to send overnight telegrams back to the office to inform them what the box office take had been. These were in a simple code to keep them supposedly secret. A predecessor of mine who used to spend quite a lot of his time over at the Ridings Hotel had one night after having a few more drinks than usual told the telephone operator the code. Some nights I was sending the coded telegram when the house had not been over-full and the telephone operator would say to me,"You did not do very well tonight did you?"
By Donald Auty
Also by Donald Auty on this site:
You may find the following pages from this site of interest: