A Word In Your Ear - January 28, 2016

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It was like a marvellous trip down memory lane as we entered the Winter Gardens for its annual open day at the weekend.

There to greet us with other volunteers in Victorian regalia was another Blackpool treasure, Elaine Smith MBE. She and colleagues from the Winter Gardens Trust, Civic Trust and Friends of Stanley Park have done so much to maintain our heritage.

The ‘Gardens’ themselves were more splendid than I’d ever seen them before, like an old, much-loved but fading relative who has suddenly been restored to their prime. Although I had my own little history there to retread, there was now so much more to discover.

Near the splendid Baronial and Spanish Halls, I showed She Who Knows the Sir Harold Room. Here I once had a choking fit on a bit of broccoli while dining with Gazette chief Sir Harold Grime, the Mayor and local business leaders in the late 1970s. I was supposed to be reporting, rather than interrupting, their proceedings.

Downstairs on Saturday we then joined other awestruck visitors and sat for a while in the spacious Theatre Bar, a period gem we had never seen before. Then, across the way, I stepped backstage to see the Opera House from the actors’ heady viewpoint.

Finally, we were drawn into the magnificent Empress Ballroom – by the echoing tones of the great Wurlitzer.

It’s at this point I can proudly inform you that legendary organist Reg Dixon was a distant relative of mine and, to our delight, there were dancers that afternoon enjoying the same tunes he once played so famously.

So it was that She Who Knows and myself found ourselves, though still wrapped in overcoats, waltzing beneath stunning chandeliers that also illuminate the world dance championships.

For some timeless fun I strongly recommend that you, too, try a trip down memory lane soon.

n For Roy’s books, visit royedmonds-blackpool.com