Having a ball for 70 years

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All eyes were on the Tower Ballroom as the final of Strictly Come Dancing was broadcast live by the BBC in HD - and even 3D, for those who had the necessary hi-tech equipment to decode the signals.

But some 60 or 70 years ago, the three graces and not 3D, were uppermost in the minds and maybe feet of those who made the most of Blackpool’s bustling social scene.

A full dancefloor in the Winter Gardens Empress Ballroom in 1948.

A full dancefloor in the Winter Gardens Empress Ballroom in 1948.

Pauline Nicholls (nee Merrill), of Carleton, says: “There was a time when Blackpool had three graces. It was before, during and after the Second World War and into the 1950s. It was where the teens of the period could strut their stuff on a choice of three ballrooms. All housed in beautiful buildings. They were The Palace, the Tower and the Winter Gardens. They were all sumptuous venues.”

She says, with some regret: “The Palace is no more, closed down 50 years ago this winter and demolished to make way for a store and shops. It had a variety theatre, a cinema and a beautiful ballroom. There seemed to be endless staircases leading to various bars for alcohol or tea and coffee. A beautiful place which will bring back many memories.”

Pauline continues: “The Tower ballroom was a popular place to be every Saturday night. I remember one of the bars was known as the rat pit. It sloped down from its entrance to a long bar. We used to stand in the doorway but never dared go in. Not for free drinks would we venture forth. Why I’ll never know.”

She adds: “The Winter Gardens was the most popular place on Saturday night. Always packed. A dance floor full, as well as people on the balconies watching. Many people will have memories of meeting someone special at the Gardens. My dad always favoured the Gardens. Mum liked the Tower. One fateful night dad changed his venue, went to the Tower, met mum and the rest is history as they say.”

Pauline ponders: “How many love stories are there to tell? I have one of my own!”