90 Years of the Winter Gardens Pavilion

The Winter Gardens Pavilion is a significant part of Weston-super-Mare's seafront and its history as a major player in British seaside tourism.

The Pavilion was designed in 1924 by notable garden designer and town planner Thomas Mawson and town surveyor Harry Brown.

The Winter Gardens was opened on the 14th July 1927 by Sir Earnest S. Palmer, deputy chairman of the Great Western Railway.

The ballroom featured one of the country’s most advanced coloured electrical lighting systems, a feature which was removed during the mid-20th century but has now been recreated by Weston College using current LED technology.

 

Rogers’ Field

 
 

The idea to create a Winter Gardens as a space for entertainment and activities during the winter months dates back to the late 19th century. Minutes from a town council meeting on the 13th August 1881 indicated the need for an indoor events space that could be used after the summer months as a “means of postponing the autumn and of mitigating the region of winter; a place affording shade, shelter, rest and recreation to some, while it will afford accommodation for fetes, balls, concerts, lectures, croquet, lawn tennis and every description of out-of-doors amusements, not for summer or winter only, but for all year round.”

The land on which the Winter Gardens was built, known during the 19th Century variously asHotel Field’ or ‘Rogers’ Field’ (colloquially ‘Rogerziz’), was purchased by Weston-super-Mare’s earliest developers - Messrs Cox, Parsley, Capell and Fry. Foundation stones for Weston’s first hotel were laid in 1807 on the site of a burned-out farmhouse, though seven years were to pass before ‘The Hotel’ became a viable business.  In 1835 it was sold to John Reeves, though a covenant that restricted his ability to build on the Hotel Field and also dictated the field should not be ploughed. For many years the land remained in farming use with a duck pond, cabbage patch and pasture for cattle.

Mr Reeves sold the hotel to the Rogers family, and it became ‘Rogers’ Hotel’ until the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, stayed one night,  affording a legitimate opportunity to establish its current name – the ‘Royal Hotel’. During this period the field was used as a venue for fairs, fetes, occasional travelling circuses and the popular ‘Weston Revel’.

Since the Rogers family did not want to sell their land, an inaugural Summer and Winter Gardens, with a grand lodge entrance, opened in 1882 a little further inland on the north side of the Boulevard. This area was destroyed by Luftwaffe bombing on 28th June 1942 and is now occupied by the 1980s Tivoli House apartment block.

In 1922 the Urban District Council used a Compulsory Purchase Order to acquire Rogers’ Field for £2,640 with the intention of creating an ‘Old English Garden’ with a modest public shelter located on the seafront. As part of the agreement covenants were placed on the land which greatly reduced development potential. After protracted negotiations a 40 foot height restriction on all new building was eventually agreed by both parties. Further covenants were applied: one to keep any liquor licences within family ownership (subsequently bought-out by the council) and another to create and maintain a public footpath from Royal Parade to South Parade, lined with a “permanent, unclimbable iron fence.” Now known as Spider Lane this Public Right of Way still runs alongside the Winter Gardens’ northern boundary.

Eminent British garden designer, town planner and first President of the Institute of Landcape Architects  Thomas Hayton Mawson (1861 – 1933) was commissioned to create a suitable garden design for Rogers’ Field which he submitted to the Council in 1923. Mr Mawson described his proposal as “an example of an architectural garden … the like of which does not exist in this country today.” The council liked the plans, calling them “admirable” and stated that, if carried out, they would “add materially to the attraction of this town.”

The plans included the creation of rose gardens, terraces and shelters. However the scheme was eventually deemed unambitious and did not meet the town’s need for a venue which could be used for entertainment during the autumn and winter months. It was 1925 before the Council finally resolved to proceed with the £15,000 English Garden project, with the addition of a pavilion.

Henry Butt, owner of Milton Quarry and a major property developer donated sufficient money to acquire the land as part of reparations for having permitted his heavy stone lorries to damage the town’s roads. Mr Butt and the town council had been arguing in court about this matter for eight years before the case ended up in the House of Lords, where the Council triumphed in a case which set a legal precedent.

Council’s costs of £23,000 had been awarded against Butt, though to show no hard feelings he settled quickly and then in February 1925 donated sufficient money for the Council to acquire Rogers’ Field for public benefit.  Mr Butt went on to become Weston’s Charter Mayor and throughout the rest of his life was a great benefactor of the town and staunch supporter of the Winter Gardens project.

 

The Royal Hotel Field Improvement

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The Winter Gardens Pavilion was designed in 1924 in a collaboration between Mr Mawson and town surveyor Harry Brown. It is rumoured that the design was inspired by depictions of the Bank of England on the contemporary £1 note.

The initial design, dubbed the ‘Royal Hotel Field Improvement’, was printed in the Weston Mercury & Somersetshire Herald on January 12th 1924 and featured rich decoration that was not included in the finished structure. Nevertheless, this image was used on the front of the programme on opening night.

The building was erected using contemporary construction methods with steel and concrete as primary materials. This resulted from the Ministry of Health’s insistence in February 1924 that original plans to use brick were scrapped in favour of reinforced concrete. This was a costlier option, which led to the frontage’s ornate features being scaled back to keep within the £25,000 budget. While the Council’s Works and General Purposes Committee agreed with Mr Mawson’s vision for the pavilion, they ruled that spending more than £25,000 in order to improve the building’s aesthetics “could not be justified.”

Work began on the Winter Gardens estate in 1924, with the Italian Gardens first to be completed. The elegant Portland stone balustrade and seating, adorned with statues representing reaping, sowing, humility, childhood, vanity and the four seasons was found when Harry Brown chanced upon them at a sale in Croydon. The stone reputedly came from Italy and had been purchased by a wealthy Surrey clergyman, the Rev Canon Alexander Bridges, who had installed them at Beddington House, his country seat.

Once again Henry Butt donated money to cover the purchase cost, and plans were hurriedly redrawn to incorporate the newly acquired 200 foot balustrade.

On 22nd August 1925 Cllr Ernest Stradling, Chairman of Weston Urban District Council, formally opened the Italian Gardens and adjacent putting green, rose garden, lily pond and Alpine garden.

Meanwhile the pavilion was under construction and costs were soaring: £35,000 for the pavilion itself and an additional £16,000 for the gardens.

The pavilion’s main seafront entrance, restored by Weston College during the 2016 refurbishment, included a carriage sweep for guests to be easily dropped off and picked up.

The single-storey neo-Georgian central oval ballroom has two Doric-colonnaded wings which were originally partly open to allow ease of passage from the beach to the sheltered landscape gardens.

To overcome a height restriction imposed by Rogers’ covenant the ballroom’s floor was sunk to four foot six inches below ground level and the domed roof was flattened on the outside.

During construction issues arose above and beyond escalating building costs. In February 1926 the surveyor reported foundations on the west side of the pavilion were unsuitable and a reinforced concrete raft had to be inserted at considerable cost. Works and General Purposes Committee minutes of 14th July 1926 highlight concerns about various delays in the contract works, particularly for plastering and rendering.

The Winter Gardens Pavilion was designed in 1924 in a collaboration between Mr Mawson and town surveyor Harry Brown. It is rumoured that the design was inspired by depictions of the Bank of England on the contemporary £1 note.

The initial design, dubbed the ‘Royal Hotel Field Improvement’, was printed in the Weston Mercury & Somersetshire Herald on January 12th 1924 and featured rich decoration that was not included in the finished structure. Nevertheless, this image was used on the front of the programme on opening night.

The building was erected using contemporary construction methods with steel and concrete as primary materials. This resulted from the Ministry of Health’s insistence in February 1924 that original plans to use brick were scrapped in favour of reinforced concrete. This was a costlier option, which led to the frontage’s ornate features being scaled back to keep within the £25,000 budget. While the Council’s Works and General Purposes Committee agreed with Mr Mawson’s vision for the pavilion, they ruled that spending more than £25,000 in order to improve the building’s aesthetics “could not be justified.”

Work began on the Winter Gardens estate in 1924, with the Italian Gardens first to be completed. The elegant Portland stone balustrade and seating, adorned with statues representing reaping, sowing, humility, childhood, vanity and the four seasons was found when Harry Brown chanced upon them at a sale in Croydon. The stone reputedly came from Italy and had been purchased by a wealthy Surrey clergyman, the Rev Canon Alexander Bridges, who had installed them at Beddington House, his country seat.

Once again Henry Butt donated money to cover the purchase cost, and plans were hurriedly redrawn to incorporate the newly acquired 200 foot balustrade.

On 22nd August 1925 Cllr Ernest Stradling, Chairman of Weston Urban District Council, formally opened the Italian Gardens and adjacent putting green, rose garden, lily pond and Alpine garden.

Meanwhile the pavilion was under construction and costs were soaring: £35,000 for the pavilion itself and an additional £16,000 for the gardens.

The pavilion’s main seafront entrance, restored by Weston College during the 2016 refurbishment, included a carriage sweep for guests to be easily dropped off and picked up.

The single-storey neo-Georgian central oval ballroom has two Doric-colonnaded wings which were originally partly open to allow ease of passage from the beach to the sheltered landscape gardens.

To overcome a height restriction imposed by Rogers’ covenant the ballroom’s floor was sunk to four foot six inches below ground level and the domed roof was flattened on the outside.

During construction issues arose above and beyond escalating building costs. In February 1926 the surveyor reported foundations on the west side of the pavilion were unsuitable and a reinforced concrete raft had to be inserted at considerable cost. Works and General Purposes Committee minutes of 14th July 1926 highlight concerns about various delays in the contract works, particularly for plastering and rendering.

 
 
 

The Winter Gardens Pavilion

The Winter Gardens Pavilion was opened on the 14th July 1927 by Sir Earnest S. Palmer, deputy chairman of the Great Western Railway. Hilda Ward and Her Ten Lady Syncopators, a popular dance band at the time, were booked to play at the opening ball and for the rest of the season.

A programme entitled ‘Souvenir of the Opening of the Winter Gardens Pavilion’ described the building as “an imposing and noble structure” with “a unique charm”.

After stepping out of their cars and passing through the sliding doors, visitors to the pavilion passed through an antechamber with a ticket office on one side and a manager’s office on the other. Large revolving oak doors “of the most up-to-date and approved pattern” led through to a foyer furnished with lounge chairs and tables and decorated with ornamental bay trees. From here visitors had access to ladies’ and gentlemen’s cloakrooms. In case of emergency double doors provided an exit onto the sea front.

The ballroom, as is the case today, is reached from the foyer through three sets of glazed double doors. The ballroom was decorated simply, with arches painted in a stone block pattern. The domed ceiling was left blank to accentuate volume in this large and elegant space.

The ballroom’s sprung dance floor is made of Australian Oak with patterned rubber on the balcony floor to help dampen the footsteps of spectators watching dancers on the floor below. The balcony was laid out with chairs and tables and a café service operated during the daytime.

A fixed, two-tier oak stage was positioned at the southern end of the room, opposite the entrance steps, and richly draped with royal blue and gold curtains.

The southern wing, behind the stage, included a second foyer which at the time held an American-style soda fountain capable of serving a wide variety of iced refreshments.

Typical entertainment of the era was detailed in the opening programme. Cabarets were presented daily in the afternoon and evening. When dances were not in progress the hall was used for concerts, when tip-up seats in purple plush were brought into the ballroom to transform it into a concert hall.

The venue’s lighting gave it one of its first nicknames – the ‘House of a Thousand Lights’. Designed and executed by local company Crowe and Green Electrical Engineers, the brass up-lights enabled the building’s dome to be free from hanging objects. The lighting could be controlled at the touch of a button to display a number of colour effects including ‘mellow sunlight’ and ‘moonlight shade’. Identical up-lights were installed by Crowe and Green at the same time in the Town Hall’s new Council Chamber.

Similarly high-tech was the building’s turbine ventilation, which continuously circulated fresh air throughout the pavilion.

As for entertainment: every morning (except Sundays) the pavilion opened between 10.30am and 12.45pm to serve refreshments and on payment of 3d it was possible to while away time listening to a resident quartet between 11.00am and 12.30pm.

In the afternoons, again excepting Sundays, a tea dance was held from 8.00pm to around midnight. A full cabaret performance was presented each evening between 9.15pm and 10.15pm.

Saturday evening was ‘gala night’, which included a variety act, and the pavilion opened on Sundays for ‘orchestral teas’, featuring a full orchestra. At 8.15pm there would be a concert featuring a prominent artist.

For those without dancing partners, patrons could hire a male or female dancing partner at a rate of sixpence for two dances. Private lessons were also available.

The first organisation to lease the Winter Gardens Pavilion from the council as a commercial venture was the Town Advertising Authority (TAA), which also ran the majority of Weston’s outdoor entertainment, as well as promoting the resort as a holiday destination.

 
 
 
 
 

From opening day one of the building’s main flaws became very quickly evident. As John Bailey, Weston Mercury editor and prominent local historian, wrote in his newspaper on 17th July 1981:

I was at the opening ball, and recall being shocked by the building’s major defect which was at once revealed. The dome construction resulted in extremely bad acoustics. At one moment when one was dancing the music was roaring in one’s ears, but a few steps onward one could scarcely hear it at all!

The TAA was not successful in its efforts to run the Winter Gardens at a profit, and after its short opening summer season income failed to cover winter losses.

Concerts were paid for on a subscription basis at £1 for four concerts. This raised £364, a mere £20,000 in today’s money. The venue’s dress code, which mandated evening dress for all attendees, also had a negative impact on the venue’s performance as it put off much potential local patronage

Acts started to move away from the Winter Gardens in favour of other venues, such as Knightstone Theatre, also controlled by the TAA.

In an effort to attract custom the council booked one of the country’s best light orchestras for three or four nights a week throughout the winter. Unfortunately local interest in music was just not great enough to sustain the venture. The well-meaning but essentially amateur TAA relinquished its managerial role and the council appointed Isaac Davies, a professional Entertainment Manager, to run the venture.

This appointment led to the resignation of the orchestra’s conductor, H. C. Burgess, in 1938. He went on to become musical director of the BBC Midland Light Orchestra.

Davies managed to almost balance the accounts by hosting successful events such as ‘Sunday Pops’. Later, George Locke, ex-timpanist in H. C. Burgess’ orchestra, formed a band which held hugely successful concerts. This led to a popular revival of old-time dancing

Though buildings to the north and east of the Winter Gardens were destroyed during two nights of heavy bombing in 1941 and 1942 the pavilion escaped all damage.

Children were not the only wartime evacuees sent from London to Weston. The BBC came as well and used the pavilion for entertainment transmissions, though to dampen the ballroom’s echo acoustic padding and curtains had to be installed.

After the war many original architectural features, including plasterwork, fixtures and fittings, were removed during several extensive renovations, with a resultant loss of grandeur, particularly in the ballroom.

The once ground-breaking lighting system was quickly overtaken by new technology, and the advent of electronic PA systems and stage lighting led to the installation of speakers and a lighting rig into the ballroom. The dome’s centre, which once let in daylight, was painted black.

An enclosing wall incorporating the columns at the front of the building was constructed in 1950 to create a café. About this time a sound and lighting control room was built in the middle of the stairs leading onto the dancefloor which afforded direct stage views.

The building thrived during the ‘50s, '60s and '70s, and was an important attraction both in the town and regional music scenes.

Starting with popular dances, such as Young Dancers’ Night (later called Teen and Twenty Dances) of the late 1950s, under Douglas Ashman’s management the Winter Gardens became known as ‘the Mecca of good dancers’. Advertised with the slogan ‘no squares allowed’ these dances ran on Wednesday evenings between 7 and 10pm.

Gene Vincent was the first rock ‘n’ roll icon to play in the pavilion. Billy Fury, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, and many more of the biggest names in music at the time played to packed houses.

In the 1960s, acts such as Cilla Black, Cat Stevens, The Troggs and The Small faces kept the pavilion buzzing.

In January 1963 Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, instructed his office to reject an offer for the band to play at the Winter Gardens and set the minimum fee to book the band at £150. The Beatles visited Weston in July that year and, like the Rolling Stones, played at the 1,000-seat Odeon Cinema in preference to the Winter Gardens Pavilion.

Although the nearby Odeon Cinema attracted high profile acts, the Winter Gardens, with its large sprung wooden ballroom floor and an absence of fixed seats, made it ideal for dancing.

Later that year the Starlight Room was constructed at the rear of the building offering additional catering facilities and an alternative smaller dance floor.

Chart-topping acts continued to perform weekly. In 1965 alone, the Animals, the Hollies, Manfred Mann, the Moody Blues, Herman’s Hermits, the Yarbirds and Van Morrison played on stage as part of the Top Twenty dances brought in under Ken Birch and Basil Flavell’s management.

Elton John, then known as Reg Dwight, played piano in one of the backing bands and Pink Floyd played a rare five piece set in 1968, featuring both Syd Barrett and Dave Gilmour in a line-up that lasted only a couple of months that year.

The late ‘60s saw new debate about the Winter Gardens’ future, though proposals to replace the building with a new road linking the seafront to Waterloo Street were swiftly rejected.

Later, in the 1970s, the premises attracted headline acts such as Black Sabbath, Roxy Music, Rod Steward, the Electric Light Orchestra and Status Quo.

When Marc Bolan of T. Rex saw the house band, led by Ken Birch, it is reported he ‘had the horrors’, but breathed a huge sigh of relief on realising the audience was there to see him! First appearing in 1970 during the band’s transition from acoustic duo Tyrannosaurus Rex to four-piece rock band T. Rex, the first half of Bolan’s set was acoustic and Marc sat cross-legged on the floor with percussionist Mickey Finn. At this time the old 1920s stage was still in use and, at just over two foot high, the first glimpse the audience had of the pop star was in the show’s second half, when he switched over to the electric guitar and was joined on stage by Bill Legend on drums and the newly enlisted Steve Currie on bass.

The stage in the ballroom was removed during the mid-20th century in an attempt to combat the room’s echo. At first it was brought forward, then placed in the middle of the dancefloor, and finally a movable stage was positioned at the eastern side of the hall, where it remains to this day. (Suggest just using ‘remained’ because I think this will be more flexible in the future?)

In 1972 £85,000 was invested into the building to glaze the northern left wing and add a mezzanine floor, allowing the building to become more multi-functional and “to keep pace with the increasing demands, especially for private catering.”

The development cut the wing vertically in half. A series of small rooms and offices were formed in the upper half allowing the ground floor to be transformed into a lobby area with reception and cloakroom.

Access to this new first floor was gained by an unsympathetically brash wooden staircase installed in the former foyer area, which necessitated removal of roughly half the ornate plasterwork.

The following year the Alpine garden was turfed over and planted up to create a rose garden.

1972 was the last full year of ballroom appearances. David Bowie played as ‘Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’, almost exactly a year before his iconic final performance with the group at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1973.

In 1973 the Borough of Weston-super-Mare became part of the new District of Woodspring. All amenities were handed over free from debt, including the Winter Gardens whose last account was said to have shown a positive balance of between £12,000 and £13,000 - £150,000 in today’s money. After this no further acts were booked.

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1980s

In 1979, seven years after the left colonnaded wing was glazed, the right wing followed suit and was opened as the Terrace Room Restaurant.

By 1981 fortunes had not improved and ‘Woodspring District Council’ started to discuss the then 54-year old building’s future.

The Winter Gardens was reportedly costing the council £1,000 per week to cover heating, lighting and water, and was losing the equivalent of nearly £310,400 per year in today’s money.

Six options, which varied from small improvements to major redevelopment of the entire estate, were released for public scrutiny.

The town’s Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association arranged a meeting at Weston College, attended by 200 members of the public, at which these various options were hotly debated.

The six options included: moving the Italian Gardens onto the pedestrianised High Street and constructing a conference centre and seven-storey hotel to attract business conferences; retaining the pavilion but demolishing its later extensions; keeping as much of the gardens as possible but extending the pavilion to cover the tennis courts and creating a 1,200 person two-storey conference centre at its rear.

The most radical option included the demolition of the entire pavilion and the creation of a new conference, exhibition and dance hall with space for restaurants and bars. Over 7,000 people signed a petition to save the building, and Council was urged to meet the deficit using a ring-fenced percentage of the rates.

The preferred option was to refurbish and re-equip the pavilion to cater for the resort’s current needs and potential future requirements. However councillors assured the public that major alterations could not take place for at least another five years, largely due to the lack of funds.

These six plans all involved some form of commercial development facing High Street, but consensus on how best to alter the open space and especially the Italian Gardens with its historic balustrade was not forthcoming.

Without this commercial element the town’s mayor, Cllr James Dickinson, speculated that it would be “very unlikely that a pavilion like the Winter Gardens would run at a profit.”

A decision was made to retain an unaltered pavilion but with a programme of maintenance and that no development would take place in either the grounds or on the Italian Gardens. 

A further report of July 1983, speculated that the Italian Gardens could be commercially developed to help fund a £2 million plan to create a conference hall big enough to seat 1,200 people. The report stated that retaining the seafront entrance to the building was “essential for a thriving sea front”, noting however that an additional entrance could be made to serve any new hall which might be constructed to the rear.

In 1989 the pavilion closed for complete refurbishment and the construction of a substantial extension. The 26-year old Starlight Room and adjacent tennis courts were demolished to make way for a large meeting and events space - the Prince Consort Hall, with three smaller function rooms alongside; all named after local parks - Ashcombe, Grove, Clarence -and embellished with tiled wall paintings specially commissioned from ceramic artist Rosie Smith.  

Three new bars were created: one looking out onto the newly-named Town Square in front of the Sovereign Centre shopping mall (opened 1992); one to serve the new Prince Consort Hall; and one in the northern colonnaded sea-facing wing - the Terrace Bar

This new suite of rooms was linked to the original pavilion by a gently ramped corridor into the former foyer. Meanwhile seafront access was replaced by a supposedly wind-free entrance set into a new foyer behind the ballroom next to the fish pond. It became very much ‘back door’ in appearance.

Although this development modernised the building and enabled it to function as a venue suitable for a wider range of events and business functions, this and the adjacent Sovereign Centre structure removed much of Mawson’s original garden setting.

During this rebuild the ballroom roof was fixed, however the process involved the removal of acoustic materials which proved most unhelpful for live music and public speaking performance. As part of the same package the original dancefloor was replaced, air conditioning upgraded, and lighting and sound systems improved.

The total cost came to £5.4 million and upon completion HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal gave the seal of approval at a re-opening ceremony on 21st January 1992.

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1993 - 2014

In 1993, the Winter Gardens featured in the final scenes of the Academy Award nominated film ‘Remains of the Day’, starring Anthony Hopkins

Queen’s visit in 2007

On 25th August 2007 whilst on a visit to North Somerset the Queen was entertained to luncheon in the Winter Gardens, the last time Her Majesty has visited Weston-super-Mare.

In 2014 North Somerset Council approached Weston College with the proposition of transferring the Winter Gardens to them for a nominal fee. At that time the college was looking for suitable premises in Weston in which to teach its new law provision courses. In some ways the redundant Magistrates’ Court looked ideal for conversion but this proved not to be the case

The Winter Gardens, with both space and room to rebuild or expand, was deemed preferable. The college put forward a double proposition:  to partially rebuild and convert the 1989 extension into a Law and Professional Services Academy, and enhance the 1920s Pavilion Ballroom and wings modern-day use by the wider community.

Before acquiring the premises Weston College was already heavily involved at the Winter Gardens hosting around half of the big-scale events, including its largest – the annual academic conference.

In January 2015 the Council agreed an asset transfer for a nominal £1, enabling the College to utilise the true value of the asset in a bid for partnership money from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for £11 million to fund the project. At this time Historic England approached conservationists and Weston Town Council asking for the pavilion’s protection under Listed Building legislation, not to thwart College plans but to ensure long-term recognition of worthy architecture. Since much original work had been destroyed in previous decades Historic England rejected the listing application in April 2015.

By October 2015 the College had secured planning permission for a number of changes to the building, and in spring 2016 received confirmation of funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership. The building was transferred to the College at the end of May, with contractors moving onto the site the following month.

Midas Group carried out structural surveys throughout June and discovered the building’s foundations to be sound and the structure strong enough to support proposed developments. During the following months the building was stripped in preparation for building work to begin. The college has worked within the existing footprint and retained much of the inherited configuration, but with a clear focus on improvement and modernisation.

An impressive new entrance was created at the building’s north east corner, opening onto the Italian Gardens. The café on the south east corner closest to the Sovereign Centre was retained and opened to the public, while the Ashcombe, Grove and Clarence suites were transformed into classrooms. Part of the Prince Consort Hall has been retained and now houses the college’s multi-storey library.

The original pavilion has been restored to a configuration similar to the early 1980s – with a lobby and entrance in the northern left wing and a restaurant in the southern right wing. The first floor above the bar has been opened up to create a seating area with views of both the seafront and rear fishponds. Above the left wing a series of smaller versatile function spaces and green rooms have been created. The entire building has been calculated to have a 54:46 per cent split between areas available to the public and areas dedicated to teaching and learning.

The 2016 partnership enterprise joining educational and community usage of the Winter Gardens for the benefit of the town and region marks new beginnings. After a twenty two month refurbishment by Weston College the Winter Gardens was reopened in September 2017. It is important to acknowledge the long history of the iconic seafront building as we all look forward to the new era ahead.

 

 
 
 
 

Thank you to John Crockford-Hawley and the Weston College Marketing team for researching and preparing the 90 year history.