PICTURES: Morecambe Winter Gardens 120th anniversary

The Winter Gardens is one of only a few surviving examples of its time.

Retaining many of its stunning, original Victorian features, including a breath-taking mosaic tiled floor, and marble steps leading to a jaw-dropping auditorium, the venue is more than just a place to watch a show.

WINTER GARDENS: Up on the theatre terrace in 2010.

WINTER GARDENS: Up on the theatre terrace in 2010.

A work of architectural art, it’s been in existence since the early days of music hall to wartime concert parties, right through to the golden era of variety.

It’s hosted Hollywood stars, operas and today, some of the very best acts 2016 has to offer.

Once known as the Victoria Pavilion, it opened in 1897 and could seat over 2,000 people.

At that time it boasted a ballroom, a number of bars, a billiard hall and even an aquarium!

Now, it stands just as proudly on the seafront, and while it closed for some years in the late 70s, the building, which was suffering structurally at the time, now pulls in visitors from around the county and further afield.

It’s a prominent landmark with an illustrious past, and the building is one of just six per cent of listed properties of its kind.

It’s something the Friends of the Winter Gardens know all about, since they established the volunteer group back in 1986 in response to the theatre falling into disuse.

The Friends had one aim: reopen the building that was once at the very heart of Morecambe’s exciting entertainment scene. Registering it as a charity in 1997, they put everything they had into raising the funds needed to purchase the building.

Cleaning the venue and carrying out urgent repairs, they formed The Winter Gardens Preservation Trust later (in 2006) in a bid to revive the venue’s listed status.

It worked, of course. The past few years have seen more and more improvements to the theatre and, while not fully operational, these days it opens regularly for live entertainment, festivals, tours, afternoon teas and much more.

Now as the Winter Gardens celebrates its 120th anniversary, we pay tribute to Morecambe’s grand old theatre with a series of nostalgic images from its storied history.