Building Name

Empress Ballroom and Lounge Blackpool Winter Gardens

1895 - 1896
Church Street
Lancashire, England
New Build
Whitehead & Sons, Blackpool and T H Smith, Blackpool

Mangnall & Littlewoods, with a growing reputation in the design of seaside pleasure buildings, won the architectural competition for the Empress Ballroom in the enlarged Winter Gardens. They designed a vast, barrel vaulted hall with a balcony promenade and a stage set into the south wall. The whole was richly decorated in what has been described as seaside Baroque; the capitals of the columns lining the balcony being adorned with grimacing faces, while the coffered ceiling had ornamental plaster-work by J. Boekbinder. The dance floor level was partially lined with Doulton faience, designed by W.J. Neatby and similar to his panels in Harrod’s store London featuring mermaids in rich, swirling blues, browns and greens.

WINTER GARDENS NEW BALROOM, BLACKPOOL - On Monday the directors of the Blackpool Winter Gardens met to consider the five sets of plans sent in for the proposed new ballroom, and other additions. It was eventually decided to adopt the designs of Messrs Mangnall and Littlewood, of Manchester. The cost of the extensions will be about £50,000. [Builder 15 June 1895 page 452]

A new ballroom is to be added to the attractions of the Blackpool Winter Gardens, which, together with the addition of a lounge and an extensive range of shops and business premises to be erected at the entrance to the proposed additional garden ground, will make up a scheme which is estimated to cost some £50,000. Messrs. Mangnall & Littlewood, of Manchester, are the architects for these additions. [British Architect 14 June 1895 page 429]

The shareholders of the Blackpool Winter Gardens Company held a special meeting last Saturday afternoon, at which sanction is as unanimously given to the directors to raise an additional capital of £50,000, £20,000 by the issue of new shares and £30,000 by mortgage, bond, or debenture. It is intended to make very considerable extensions, removing the present circus and skating rink, and erecting a very large ball- room and oriental lounge on their site, with Florentine gardens outside. The plans of Messrs Mangnall and Littlewood, of Manchester, have already been adopted by the directors, and the work is to be proceeded with as early as possible. [The Era - Saturday 13 July 1895 page 15]

NEW BALLROOM. WINTER GARDENS, BLACKPOOL The new ballroom at the Blackpool Winter Gardens was opened recently. The building has been erected from plans prepared by Messrs Mangnall & Littlewoods of Manchester, whose plans were selected in competition. The Italian Gardens are situate between the main entrance in Church-street and the grand hall, and, when completed, will be laid out in terraces and walks with groups of statuary and fountains illuminated with electric lights. The main avenue down the centre leads to the grand hall which measures 189 feet by 110 feet and has a floor capacity of 20,790 square feet. There is also a promenade 15 feet in width around the four sides, raised one step above the pavilion floor. The stage and orchestra are placed on the south side, in the centre of the room. The floor has 2000 spiral springs fixed 3 feet apart over the whole of the dancing area and is laid with a pine sub-floor nailed upon read deal joists and finished on the surface with parquet, having a wide border with pattern in various coloured woods. There is a gallery around the room, 15 feet wide, on each side, approached by wide staircases. The whole of the artistic work has been carried out in French Renaissance style by Mr Boekbinder. The lounge, which is 150 feet long by 60 feet wide, is approached from the old Floral Hall by a faience staircase, and from the ballroom by three entrances with massive folding doors. The lounge is in the Indian style and will be laid out with recessed alcoves, while the roof is laid out in panels with three large domes filled in with stained glass and ventilated by perforated openings in the centre of each dome. The cost of the works, exclusive of the electric lighting is about £40,000  [Builder 15 August 1895 from the Blackpool Herald]

Mangnall & Littlewoods also designed the Indian Lounge, which formed the foyer for the ballroom and divided the Pavilion from the dance floor. The arcaded Lounge was decorated with Mogul‑style plaster-work and painted scenes of the tropics; from that, a grand staircase led to the ballroom. The ballroom was decorated with Doulton tile panels designed by W.J. Neatby similar and to his panels in Harrod’s Store London. The building was faced in white faience by Doulton and Company of London