Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England


A description of the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, taken from a guide dated 1899.


The 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 " Cocker's Gardens."

When 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 opened.

Still 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 circumference.

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.

The adjoining Floral 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.

The 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 time.

It 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.

The 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.

The whole of the buildings are lighted by electricity from the Company's own installation. Mr. John R. Huddlestone is the manager of the whole establishment.