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Barry Band: Was the Winter Gardens’ Eastern flavour Indian? or Turkish?

Winter Gardens, Indian Lounge
Winter Gardens, Indian Lounge

Today’s Memory Lane turns a page on a bit of Blackpool Winter Gardens history that has gone unnoticed for 122 years.

And the reason was the Winter Gardens Company’s need to disassociate itself from a series of massacres in the Ottoman Empire, which was ruled from Constantinople (renamed Istanbul in 1930).

The Indian Lounge, from a 1920s Winter Gardens programme. But does it look Turkish?

The Indian Lounge, from a 1920s Winter Gardens programme. But does it look Turkish?

Stay with it, dear reader!

In 1896, two major projects were nearing completion in the Winter Gardens – the Empress Ballroom and the Turkish Lounge.

Already, you are wondering: Turkish Lounge? Where was that?

Keep reading!

Advert from 1896 for the 'Turkish' lounge placed in The Gazette

Advert from 1896 for the 'Turkish' lounge placed in The Gazette

The Turkish Lounge was designed in an ornate style, with the intention of outshining the Indian Lounge of Blackpool’s Royal Palace Gardens amusement park and the Indian Pavilion on the North Pier.

The Winter Gardens Company decided to open the almost-completed Turkish Lounge and Empress Ballroom for the busy holiday month of August, 1896.

The company needed to earn some revenue from their ambitious projects.

A Gazette ad for that month appears on this page.

It names the Turkish Lounge.

But events in the Ottoman Empire were making headlines in western newspapers. Armenians were being massacred by the Turks.

Everything Turkish became unacceptable and that included the name Turkish Lounge.

After the summer season, work continued to complete the Winter Gardens projects.

When they reopened the following spring, the Turkish Lounge had become the Indian Lounge.

Was the style Indian or Turkish?

To the untrained eye it was “eastern.” Is there an expert out there?

The Indian Lounge fell victim to 1960s modernisation.

The decor was stripped and it became the futuristic Planet Room in 1964. The future was a rumour!

Only 25 years later the Planet Room became the Arena.

I can hear Neil, played by Nigel Planer in TV’s The Young Ones, saying: “Man, it’s the music, not the decor!”

DID YOU SPOT THEM?

Last week’s group picture of Blackpool comedian Roy Barbour at St Annes Old Links Golf Club left us with a question.

Who were they all?

Annoyingly, there was no caption for the many faces in the picture.

Roy was extreme right on the middle row, but I can only positively ID two other show people.

Ben Warriss, from the Hippodrome summer show was back row, third from left.

Ted Ray, from the Grand Theatre show, was extreme left, middle row.

Some of the men in the picture would have been Old Links members.

Every summer there was a tournament between the Old Links and the Vaudeville Golfing Society.