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photo of the old Ritz
Add your memory of Weymouth Pavilion

 

Film still outside Pavilion
Watch the Pavilion Past film

 

Thanks to Local History Unit, Weymouth Museum and Weymouth and Dorset Local History Forums for this information.

cover of an old programme

Weymouth Pavilion Key dates

skeleton of the new Pavilion
In September 1958, four years after the Ritz burnt down, construction on the new theatre and ballroom began after being delayed by a great deal of litigation and fierce argument.

On 12th March 1959 the council announced details of a competition to name the new building. Over 650 entries were received in all. After careful consideration between 'The Weymouth Pavilion' and 'The Normandy', it was decided on 'Weymouth Pavilion', with the first prize equally shared between Mrs Felton and Mr Pearce.

The architect of the new Pavilion was Samuel Beverley. In the 1920s he had joined Frank Verity, a famous theatre architect (he'd designed the Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly) as his partner. The firm Verity and Beverley is still going strong. Beverley died in May 1959 whilst the building was still going on and other members of the partnership took over. The total estimated figure for building the theatre was 154,000, which was increased by 25,450 because of changes demanded by the Royal Fine Arts Commission. The Council was able to use approximately 75,000 insurance on the old building to reduce the overall cost.

The ballroom, which was built on the same site as the old Palm Court, was opened first. On opening night the ballroom was packed to capacity, with scores unable to gain entry. The Mayor and Mayoress, Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Wallis declaring the ballroom open, were the first couple on the maple dance floor, which cost 7,000. Over 1,000 people then quickly filled the floor, dancing to Cyril Stapleton and his band. Later watching a display by dance professionals Harry Smith-Hampshire and Doreen Casey.

The official opening was delayed for a month until the theatre was complete and formally opened on 15th July 1960, with the show 'Let's Make a Night of It' starring Benny Hill. The new Pavilion was described as "Weymouth's most ambitious municipal enterprise", costing approximately 300,000, retaining Weymouth's reputation as a leading seaside resort.

We all now wonder what the future holds for this building.