Empress Ballroom

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Empress Ballroom
Address 97 Church Street, Blackpool, FY1 1HL
Coordinates 53°49′01″N 3°03′00″W / 53.817°N 3.050°W / 53.817; -3.050Coordinates: 53°49′01″N 3°03′00″W / 53.817°N 3.050°W / 53.817; -3.050
Owner Blackpool Council
Built 1896
Renovated 1934
Former name(s) The Stardust Garden (197? – 19??)
Classroom-style seating 800
Banquet/ballroom 1000
Theatre seating 2700
Enclosed space

The Empress Ballroom is a 3,000 capacity entertainment venue, in Blackpool, Lancashire, England. It is located within the Winter Gardens, a large entertainment complex in the town centre.[1]

As part of the Winter Gardens, the ballroom is a Grade II* Listed Building.[2] It is operated by Crown Leisure Ltd, on behalf of Blackpool Council, who purchased the property from Leisure Parcs Ltd as part of a £40 million deal in 2010.[3]

The Empress Ballroom hosts a variety of events including conferences, concerts, dance and darts competitions as well as trade fairs. It has hosted the main annual conferences for all three major British political parties as well as a number of trade unions. The Winter Gardens' owners claim that every British Prime Minister since World War II has addressed an audience at the venue.

History[edit]

The Empress Ballroom was built in 1896. It was designed by Manghall and Littlewood of Manchester, and decorated by J.M.Boekbinder. With a floor area of 12,500 square feet (1,160 sq. metres), the ballroom was one of the largest in the world. It has a barrel-vaulted ceiling, decoratively treated as a square-coffered vault with relief patterned panels in gold and white, with twelve glass chandeliers. The ballroom has a decorated balcony on three sides,[2]

It was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1918 for military use during World War I to assemble gas envelopes for the R.33 airship, before being handed back a year later. It was re-floored in late 1934 with 10,000 pieces of oak, mahogany, walnut and greenwood, laid over 1,320 four-inch springs.[2][4] It is one of the few remaining sprung dancefloors in Britain.

In the late 1970s, some of the floor space was adapted for other purposes to reduce the venue’s over-capacity. It was renamed The Stardust Garden and was intended to function as a nightclub.[4]

The ballroom has been used as a conference venue for many years by the Labour Party, Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats. The ballroom has hosted the World Matchplay darts tournament, run by the Professional Darts Corporation, since 1994, which is shown live on Sky Sports It also hosts numerous dance competitions, such as the British Sequence Championships and the Blackpool Dance Festival, an annual ballroom dance competition, since its inception in 1920.[5]

On 1 March 1974, the ballroom was the venue for the opening concert of Queen's first ever headlining tour of the UK.[6][7][8]

The White Stripes perform at the Empress Ballroom in their DVD and concert Under Blackpool Lights, which was recorded at the venue on 27 and 28 January 2004.

Kaiser Chiefs recorded their video for On the Run at the venue, which would be released to promote their compilation album Souvenir: The Singles 2004–2012.

It also housed a Wurlitzer organ, much of the pipework coming from the original Blackpool Tower organ. It was played for many years by Horace Finch but was removed in 1969, eventually being broken up.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Empress Ballroom". Blackpool: Leisure Parcs Ltd. 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "Listed Buildings in Blackpool". Blackpool Civic Trust. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  3. ^ "Blackpool Tower to be sold as resort embarks on £40m development". The Times. 31 March 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Winter Gardens History – Empress Ballroom". Blackpool: Leisure Parcs Ltd. 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "Blackpool Dance Festival History". Blackpool Dance Festival. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  6. ^ "Nutz". Queenpedia. 7 September 2007. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  7. ^ "Band History". Queenpedia. 4 January 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  8. ^ "01.03.1974 – Concert: Queen live in Winter Gardens, Blackpool, UK". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 

External links[edit]