Memory Lane: A building fit for a Palace

The Palace Theatre , Promenade, Blackpool. Originally known as the Alhambra which opened in 1899
The Palace Theatre , Promenade, Blackpool. Originally known as the Alhambra which opened in 1899
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SO many Blackpool buildings have been bulldozed in the name of progress over the last few decades.

The site of one landmark seafront entertainment complex, which took a pounding in the early 1960s, is currently a Poundland, the latest discount retailer to move onto that corner of the Promenade and Victoria Street.

Memory Lane then and now''Poundland, previously T J Hughes, previously Woolworths, previously Lewis's, originally the site of the Palace, Blackpool

Memory Lane then and now''Poundland, previously T J Hughes, previously Woolworths, previously Lewis's, originally the site of the Palace, Blackpool

But when details for the resort’s biggest redevelopment plans since the Second World War were unveiled back in the early 1960s, it was a showpiece structure that was set to be the talk of the town.

It was certainly an eye-catcher, whether you appreciated the honeycomb look or not.

Even as the former Palace Buildings and County Hotel block was being demolished in February 1962, Lewis’s Ltd and Blackpool Tower Company, joint developers of the site, released an artist’s impression of an ultra-modern six-floor department store.

It opened in 1964, but, by the mid-1990s, Lewis’s had gone and the huge building, also bordering Bank Hey Street and Church Street, had been gutted, with upper floors demolished and the remaining two storeys remodelled to become The Pavilion, split into several units, with a bingo hall above.

The demolition of The Palace Buildings in 1962

The demolition of The Palace Buildings in 1962

Inspired by the recent memories of social dancing in Blackpool, from reader Pauline Nicholls, Dorothy Robinson says she worked in the painting trade by day, but at night sold chocolates and ice cream at the Palace for extra money.

Dorothy, 91, of Drummond Avenue, says: “We wore black dresses, tan sleeveless overalls, black belt, and black bows in our hair. We had a tray with boxes of Terry’s and Cadbury’s chocolates, which we sold at the first house pictures and variety, and ice creams in the interval.

“The ices cost 3d (2p) each and we got 3d in the pound commission, as well as 1s (5p) a night for working 6pm until 10pm.

“Then afterwards I danced in the beautiful ballroom to Will Hurst and his band and I found out later that my husband’s father, Fred Robinson, played first sax in the band. I have so many happy memories of the Palace.”

- LOOK out next Saturday for the start of entertainment historian Barry Band’s decade by decade round-up of the Palace, one of the North West’s greatest variety theatres.