A Venue With History

For those that have visited Lytham, a trip to the Lowther Pavilion is a must

Lowther Gardens cover an area of 5.65 hectares and were provided by Squire J Talbot Clifton in 1872 in honour of his wife, Eleanor Cecily Clifton (of the Lowther family in Cumbria) and in memory of her father, who died in 1868. They were designed and laid out under the supervision of Mr Tomlinson who worked on the Clifton Estate, for the benefit of the inhabitants and visitors to Lytham, on what was previously poor grazing land known as Hungry Moor.

They were given to the authority in 1905 and shortly after in 1921 the Pavilion was built and named after Eleanor’s family name as a continuation of the gift of the gardens.

It is rumoured that the roof originally stood on stilts and was designed to be used as shelter against bad weather as stated in the 9th July 1920 Lytham Times.

The Pavilion has been used for many things over the years. Lytham Amateur Operatic society held its first musical there in 1928 with Highwayman Love. There were also orchestral evenings which gained popularity as the visitors to the gardens had something else to come and see.

It seemed as if the Pavilion was really being shaped for its future as a venue, one with high numbers of attendance and potential and throughout the years leading up to the 1950’s the Pavilion underwent a slight modification to its building design with the addition of a cafe on the side of the building.

However, in 1976 councillors gathered for an emergency meeting to discuss the uncertain future of Lytham’s Lowther Pavilion. It had emerged that after a car had collided with part of the building exposing the steel work that the stanchions that held up the roof were discovered to be rotting beyond repair and acro-jacks had to be placed inside to stop the roof and walls collapsing.

The future wasn’t looking great, but then by some twist of fate during a production of Charlie Girl at the Ashton Pavilion in St Annes, a fire broke out completely destroying the St Annes theatre and the operatic society were forced to move to the Pavilion which saved it from demolition.

It was clear that money had to be spent on updating the facility and in 1982 that’s exactly what happened. Only the roof and floor remain as original features from construction and new dressing rooms and a stage extension were built with a large extension to the front of the building providing a new box office and toilets. To date the Lowther stands as the 1982 alteration inside and out and is testament to the vibrant spirit that surrounds it.

Many famous bands have played at the Lowther in the 60s and 70s, including Fleetwood Mac, Steeleye Span, Hawkwind and Curved Air. Artists who have performed in recent years include Belinda Carlisle, Robert Plant, Alexander O’Neal, John Bishop, Jason Manford and Kim Wilde to name just a few.

Lowther Pavilion and Gardens now exists to provide a leisure experience for both locals and visitors alike. The charity has year on year increased visitor numbers, and it is through support that it has grown in stature and been able to attract the world class performers that now frequent the Pavilion.

And its success continues as the Lowther Pavilion has recently been named Leisure Venue of the Year at last year’s Gazette Retail and Leisure Awards and is set to welcome some of the biggest names in showbusiness in the next 12 months.

“It was the perfect way to end the year for all the team at Lowther,” says marketing manager Ross Morgan of the award. “We had a great year in 2019 and we’re looking forward to an even better 2020!”

The venue, on West Beach, has already sold out for some of its biggest upcoming shows, including award-winning magician Ben Hart, and world-renowned Phoenix Nights clairvoyant, medium and psychic Clinton Baptiste, who will both be appearing in February.

Friends of Lowther Pavilion is a charitable organisation set up in 2008 dedicated to assisting the Lowther Pavilion Theatre. Currently it is providing help and support raising money for improvements and refurbishments and helping to keep costs down with its volunteers.

To find out more about the Pavilion and see what’s coming up visit: lowtherpavilion.co.uk



Tedd Walmsley

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