THE WINTER GARDENS.
Winter Gardens—which occupy an extensive area in the very centre of the town—rank
as one of the oldest established and most important of existing pleasure resorts.
Anterior to 1878, when the Gardens were first opened by the Lord Mayor of London
(Sir Thomas Owden) the site was occupied by the residence and private grounds of
Dr. W. H. Cocker—the first Freeman of the Borough—and was generally known as "
first opened the Gardens comprised a Floral Hall, Pavilion—which was also used as a
Theatre —a Skating Rink, Grounds, etc. (designed by Mr. Mitchell, F.R.I.B.A.), and
in this form catered for visitors until 1889, when a valuable extension of the
Church Street entrance hall, in the way of Her Majesty's Opera House, was formally
pursuing a most progressive policy, the Company, in recent years, has gone in for
further huge additions, and erected another imposing entrance hall annexe in
Coronation Street, and a palatial Empress Ballroom, Oriental Lounge, etc., on the
south-east side. These new features were opened in 1896.
The Gardens block of buildings, which is bounded on all four sides by
principal streets, has now six entrances—four in Church Street, and others in
Coronation Street and Adelaide Street. The resort is easily distinguishable from
all parts of the town by a noble glass dome—brilliantly illuminated with
electricity after nightfall—measuring 120 feet in height, and 126 feet in
The vestibule under the dome is centred with a beautiful playing
fountain, and is set out with classical statuary, representing Flora, Terpsichore,
Urania, Clio, Erato, Pomona, Melpomene, Venus, Calliope, Thalia, Ceres, and
Euterpe, and plants.
Hall—which has the appearance of an
Eastern bazaar—is 176 feet in length, 44 feet wide, and 25 feet high. The roof is
composed of glass and light ornamental ironwork—the arches of the latter being
thickly studded with vari-coloured incandescent glow lamps, which, in the evenings,
impart a most enchanting and fairy-like vraisemblance to the hall. Seating
accommodation is most efficiently provided.
Abutting on the Floral Hall is a picturesque and luxuriant
fernery, built of fantastic rock work, and well-stocked with choice and
rare specimens ; and there are also numerous side attractions, including a
commodious " Gold Billiard Salon," grand buffet, grill-room, Sloper Art Gallery,
Indian Jungle, etc.
extremity of the Floral Hall leads by two ends of a circular promenade to
the Grand Pavilion or
Theatre. This promenade, which is 30
feet wide and 423 feet long, topped with a semi-circular glass roof, is only cut
off from the body of the Pavilion by sliding sash divisions, The Pavilion—which is
134 feet by 73 feet—is placed concentrically with and within the Promenade, which
leads up to' a fine balcony and end gallery. On occasion the sliding sashes are
thrown up and the whole of the Pavilion and Promenade transformed into one vast
hall, enabling 10,000 people to witness the stage performance at the same
was on this stage that Madame Sarah Bernhardt caused a memorable fiasco by bringing
her performance to an abrupt conclusion. The " Divine Sarah"' excused herself on
the ground of over-exertion ; but the celebrated actress's spirited refusal to
complete her performance was locally believed to spring from. the immensity of an
audience displaying truly Lancashire criticism.
proscenium and pavilion decorations and the general appointments are of a most
artistic character. The entertainments provided at the Gardens includes orchestral
and military bands, concerts, variety performances, and spectacular extravaganzas.
Sacred concerts are also given on Sunday evenings during the season. All the
various performances in the Gardens and adjoining buildings are noted for their
novelty and high-class quality; and as admission to the Gardens, ballroom, etc., is
kept at the inclusive fee of sixpence, the great popularity of the resort among
visitors to the town is in no way a matter of wonder.
whole of the buildings are lighted by electricity from the Company's own
installation. Mr. John R. Huddlestone is the manager of the whole