Empress Ballroom

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Empress Ballroom
Empress Ballroom Winter Gardens Blackpool.jpg
Empress Ballroom is located in Blackpool
Empress Ballroom
Empress Ballroom
Location in Blackpool
Empress Ballroom is located in Lancashire
Empress Ballroom
Empress Ballroom
Location in Lancashire
Address97 Church Street, Blackpool, FY1 1HL
Coordinates53°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
OwnerBlackpool Council
Built1896
Renovated1934
Former names
The Stardust Garden (197? – 19??)
Classroom-style seating
800
Banquet/ballroom1000
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, and for the first time (in August 2018) the British Beard & Moustache Championships. 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.[4] It was designed by Manghall and Littlewood of Manchester, and decorated by J.M.Boekbinder. At 110ft by 189ft, offering 20,790 sqft of floor space, 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][5] It is one of the few remaining sprung dancefloors in Britain.

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.

The Empress Ballroom was a popular dance venue until the 1960s with Britain's top dance bands playing summer residences of four weeks during the summer seasons. They included the bands of Geraldo, Joe Loss, Ted Heath, John Dankworth, Jack Parnell and Ken McIntosh.

In the late 1970s, some of the floor space was adapted for other purposes to reduce the venue's over-capacity. It was used in the summer seasons of 1970-74 as a cabaret-dining venue called The Stardust Garden.[5]

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.[6]

On 1 March 1974, the ballroom was the venue for the opening concert of Queen's first ever headlining tour of the UK.[7][8][9]

The Stone Roses famously performed what is widely considered one of their best ever gigs at the Empress Ballroom on 12 August 1989.

In June 2016 and June 2017 it hosted the live acts and was the main Northern Soul room over three days for The Blackpool International Soul Festival.

On 14 and 15 January 2017, the ballroom hosted a two day tournament to crown the first ever WWE United Kingdom Champion. On 12 January 2019, it hosted NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool, the first ever NXT UK TakeOver event.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Empress Ballroom". Blackpool: Leisure Parcs Ltd. 2008. Archived from the original on 9 January 2010. 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. ^ "The Empress Ballroom | Blackpool Winter Gardens". Blackpool Winter Gardens. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Winter Gardens History – Empress Ballroom". Blackpool: Leisure Parcs Ltd. 2008. Archived from the original on 30 September 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
  6. ^ "Blackpool Dance Festival History". Blackpool Dance Festival. Archived from the original on 30 March 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
  7. ^ "Nutz". Queenpedia. 7 September 2007. Retrieved 6 December 2009.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Band History". Queenpedia. 4 January 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2009.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "01.03.1974 – Concert: Queen live in Winter Gardens, Blackpool, UK". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 January 2010.

External links[edit]