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Two days before the Theatre opened the Scarborough Evening News reported on the Theatre in their 25th of June editions saying: The Pint has summer of bulldogs right now. Happy New Year Dream Tech. In I became the manager of Bristol Hippodrome the Theatre where the Minstrels had played a short season just before the show's legendary seasons in Scarborough. The walls on the ground and balcony floors are panelled with original treatments of lines and squares with a wing effect on the sides, all modelled especially and never repeating, forming frames to the many original paintings in oils which fill the spaces. Draft Beer 16 oz. Select Pints, Highballs 1 oz.
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What is not generally realised is the fact that the Spa Theatre was not purpose built. It was originally to have been a Grand Hall and Floral Lounge together with associated meeting rooms, bars etc. This late adaption to Theatre use has marred the Spa Theatre ever since. The auditorium is laid on three levels, stalls extending unusually deeply under the inserted balcony , side balconies which originally ran around three sides of the hall , and a steeply raked balcony added after the hall was completed, replacing the original rear and side balconies at the level of the existing side ones Above - The auditorium of the Spa Theatre, Scarborough - Courtesy Adrian Tonner whose grandfather, Moses Halladjian, took the photograph and was a freelance photographer in Scarborough from to Operationally the Theatre lacks adequate access to the stage, which itself is too small, has insufficient flying height and has a particularly awkward arrangement of dressing rooms.
It was slightly altered around the beginning of the 20th century when the proscenium was brought forward a small amount to enlarge the stage. Right - Above the stage of the Spa Theatre today, showing the surviving moulded ceiling from before the stage was extended into the auditorium - Courtesy Ian Grundy. The proof of this lies in the Adrian Tonner photograph shown above and my own photograph shown right which shows the ceiling above the stage behind the proscenium arch.
This is the rear corner of the stage and the moulded ceiling survives here. There is also the extreme awkwardness of the rear balcony and the lack of any sensible backstage layout and access. T ed Bottle, whose photographs of the Spa Theatre are shown below writes: Note the footlights, a forbidden word in the theatre business but I liked them.
They added warmth and an air of mystery when played on the tabs. Like many other theatres it is reputed to be haunted. At the evening performance prior to my photographic visit, someone in the audience was rather upset by the appearance of someone not of this world, so the management told me. A regular visitor to the site, Keith Hopkins, writes: I was thrilled to see my Chairman's table in the photographs of the Spa theatre.
A couple of photographs taken in at The Spa Theatre shown right and below show the original blue velvet swag curtain and the same table, only slightly changed. We did 3 changes of programme 1 modern variety, 1 O. You may like to visit the Theatre's own website here. T he Floral Hall, Scarborough was not so much a Theatre in its early days but a large open Conservatory housing entertainments such as the popular Pierrot shows of the time, see photographs below.
The Hall began life as the Alexandra Gardens, an open air venue, but quickly had a glass roof constructed over it to turn it into a theatrical space. The Theatre never reopened and it was demolished in More photographs from this set are shown below. Above - A selection of Photographs of Pierrots and Pierrettes performing in Scarborough - Courtesy Adrian Tonner whose grandfather, Moses Halladjian, took the photographs and was a freelance photographer in Scarborough from to The venue could have been the Floral Hall or the Spa Theatre.
T he Futurist Theatre was designed by F. Tugwell and was originally built as a Cine-Variety Theatre called the New Arcadia, opening in with a capacity of 2, The Theatre was constructed on the site of the former Kiralfy's Arcadia, later Catlin's Arcadia see image below , which had opened in July and was closed and demolished in to make way for the new Theatre.
This was under the rear stalls of the Theatre and in more recent times was the Arcadia Amusement arcade and is currently the Emporium. It threw open the doors at the start of the summer season show at the New Arcadia on 14th May and was described in the press saying: Tubular splatter lights with fantastic painted panels on a black and white check floor complete a scheme which is always different.
Two months later 'The Cinema Magazine' of July 7th carried a good description of the Futurist as it opened, described by Val Prince, the interior designer: The whole effect is obtained by the use of balloon lights, which I have found so harmonious where strong contrasts are to be dealt with.
Added to this, a range of concealed many-coloured lamps illuminate a cloud and star treatment in the dome, giving a soft and atmospheric effect with a feeling of distance. The proscenium and stage are constructed in moulded plaster in black white and gold stripes, surmounted by a pierced dome always emitting a pale rose light between the tracery.
The electrically operated curtains are black, painted with bold splashed of pink, blue, green and gold, making a suitable set for singer or concert party. The orchestra has an open rostrum giving a full view of the leader, a spot lime from the dome flooding him, or any section of the players, with multi coloured lights as desired, whilst a pleasing tone of blue and violet is thrown on the foliated background from a range of concealed lights.
On either side of the stage is a very fine organ, the pipes of which treated in dull silver, and flanked with fine plaster treatment in pink, turquoise blue and black makes a bold finish to the stage end of the house The Cinema Magazine's Val Prince article continues by saying: The walls on the ground and balcony floors are panelled with original treatments of lines and squares with a wing effect on the sides, all modelled especially and never repeating, forming frames to the many original paintings in oils which fill the spaces.
On the remaining walls and ceilings, designs in bold black line are made use of, with many coloured discs from which the balloon lights are suspended, always staggered and appearing as it were in mid air.
The handling of the lighting in the house has been a special feature, and I always advocate a coloured effect between the exhibiting of each picture, which gives a rest to the eyes, especially noticeable where long films are concerned, the soft colour being a great relief. This is automatically worked by the dimmers from the curtain control, which at the end of a picture slowly close over the screen and vanish in the same way on the opening of the curtains for a fresh picture exhibit.
The entrance and staircase are treated in a similar theme, and with the painted panels, the fine marble and wood setting giving a pleasing effect under the pierced vari-coloured grid which surmounts the ceiling. In the pay-box quite a feature has been made in the mingling of chased woodwork and specially designed leaded lights, also carried out in the entrance and barrier doors. T he decorative scheme for the Theatre was carried out by Val Prince Decorations Ltd, to the personal design and supervision of Val Prince.
Plaxton of Scarborough and carpets and draperies by Tonks of Scarborough. Two days before the Theatre opened the Scarborough Evening News reported on the Theatre in their 25th of June editions saying: Over the centre of the orchestra and in front of the circle is a perforated illuminated dome in which an impression of clouds and stars is created, but the main feature is the subdued lighting from a large number of various coloured hidden lamps.
Somewhat startling is the mixture of colours here and in other parts of the theatre, but the whole effect is one of subdued warm tones. Hanging from the roof are balloon lights, which are a good imitation of toy balloons containing electric globes. In keeping with the idea of non-conformity and complete irregularity these groups of balloons are not suspended at any regular distance from the roof nor are they in any symmetrical form.
They are what is technically known as staggered which is equivalent to saying they are in no form at all. Altogether there are between four and five hundred separate scattered lights in the theatre and not one white one. The blending of the coloured lights reacts on the more daring colours of the painted surfaces.
To turn to matters of more practicable importance, the comfortable tip-up chairs and especially the adequate space between the rows are sure to meet with the approval of patrons.
Every seat in the building is of the tip-up style and from all of them an uninterrupted view of the screen, which is set back a good distance on the stage, can be obtained. In the spacious circle and beneath it there are no pillars to shut out the view.
The super-cinema will seat somewhere about 2, people and though designed pre-eminently as a cinema, the stage has all the necessary appointments for light opera, plays and oratorios.
There are no less than eleven public entrances and exits to the building, all of which are of fire-proof construction with stairs five feet wide. It is claimed that the rapidity with which the demolition of the old Arcadia, the excavating and building of the retaining wall, in which 2, tons of concrete were used, and the erection of the new theatre has beaten all records and that Mr Plaxton with his staff, has achieved the almost impossible.
Labour of every sort had to be enticed by judicious advertising and imported from all parts of the country. In planning the building advantage has been taken of the most modern form of American construction and though in this country at the present time there are numerous very large theatres in the course of construction, there is nothing that embodies to such an extent the most modern features of moving picture theatre design.
T he above report states in one section that there were 'no pillars to shut out the view' but there were a small number of pillars in the rear stalls and it seems unlikely that they were inserted at a later date. As is recorded above and contrary to most reports the Futurist was a Cine-Variety Theatre and had stage shows most Sundays and on occasional other nights of the week.
It was fully equipped as a Theatre from opening and had a stage which Ian Grundy estimates was at least 18 feet in depth. In for example Ian finds an advertisement on Sunday the 2nd of October for 3: A somewhat surprising advert was published in December for a performance at 8: Entitled The Messiah it consisted of carols, organ solos and orchestral items and involved a full chorus.
On Friday 18th November Anna Pavlova and her company together with the corps de ballet and orchestra from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden presented for one night only an evening of Ballet. The first part was devoted to a series of dances based on Chopin's works — the members of the Corps de ballet were in the conventional white ballet tutus and a moonlight effect was created by the lighting. The Futurist stage with its dark curtain and no other scenery or properties accentuated the performance which relied entirely on its artistic atmosphere and adherence to classic ideals.
The remainder of the programme consisted of thirteen dances in character costumes to the music of some of the best known composers. The audience paid a warm tribute, recalling Pavlova many times. As a closing item Pavlova and Laurent Novikoff danced a serenade which again brought forth a storm of applause.
I n November plans were approved for a radical redesign of the Theatre which would include a new wider proscenium constructed 4 feet forward from the original, giving more room on stage, a new metal safety curtain and drencher system, the construction of six new dressing rooms on the Theatre's roof, and three new bars in the Theatre itself.
At the same time the Theatre's organ, which had been rarely used since the end of the war, was removed. The season show, 'The Cyril Stapleton Band Show' had finished on Saturday the 20th of September, presented on the original stage, and work began on altering the Theatre shortly afterwards, the work was carried out to the designs of architect Captain J.
Ritson, who would be associated with the Theatre for many years. The work took so long that the incoming show, the 'The Big Show', would only have time for one full rehearsal before it went live on the 13th of June , the headliners for this show were Cyril Stapleton again and Frankie Howerd. This included modernising the foyers, creating a 'Minstrel Lounge' within the old Arcadia space, and the 'Minstrel Bar' within the Arcadia Buffet. A nightclub was also created in what had formerly been the ballroom called the Top Spot, decorated by the theatrical designer Robert St John Roper.
At this time the exterior and interior were also radically altered, apparently against the wishes of Robert Luff himself. The Futurist had originally had an exterior faced with Italianate style faience which was now hidden behind a new exterior of yellow panels, although the former was still partly visible higher up the frontage.
The Theatre always had a large auditorium with a capacity of over 2, people, and consisted of stalls and one circle which was partly supported by columns, later the auditorium also included boxes either side of the proscenium even though they had no view of the stage, see paragraph below. Six large boxes were also constructed above the rear circle during the s alterations.
Unusually the stage of the Futurist Theatre was situated above the Foyer which meant that no traps were able to be fitted into the stage. A visitor to this site, James Bettley writes: Only intended as mock boxes, these were a way of making a feature out of the disused, arched openings high up in the wall from which showgirls like the Television Toppers and Tiller Girls once emerged to descend spiral glass staircases to stage level. The openings in the wall came with the new, wider proscenium in the late 'fifties and once the staircases were removed much later, the remaining apertures just curtained off looked very odd and the addition of moulded box fronts matching the front of the balcony made the obsolete openings at least look like part of the overall auditorium scheme.
The Futurist Theatre was demolished in , more details on this below. Some of the above information was kindly sent in by Ian Grundy.
W hen planned, the Futurist was to have been called the Majestic Super Cinema. My father remembered the concert parties which used to put on shows on the sands and he believes one such party was called The Futurists.
Will Catlin produced such a concert party of Pierrots and this may account for the late change of the cinema's name. I simply wanted to see the inside of the huge Theatre and vividly remember entering the auditorium and seeing what seemed like acres of red plush seats gradually filling and more stage lighting than I had ever seen in one venue.
The stage was still relatively shallow and was still without a fly tower but the show was nevertheless very colourful and spectacular. The safety curtain rose in two halves due to no flying height and revealed rich, red crushed velvet house tabs which opened sideways on a motorised track.
I subsequently saw most of the summer shows there during the 'sixties and by the early 'seventies I was the assistant manager of London's Victoria Palace Theatre and got to know Robert Luff, the "Minstrels" producer as the V. On discovering my York origins and my love of his Futurist, he very kindly asked me to consider being the Futurist's general manager - a post he was looking to fill. In I became the manager of Bristol Hippodrome the Theatre where the Minstrels had played a short season just before the show's legendary seasons in Scarborough.
From the late 'fifties to the mid 'sixties, the Futurist and adjacent Arcadia Theatres enjoyed a successful "exchange" arrangement with Blackpool's Opera House and Grand Theatre respectively. On being developed from the Palladium Picture House , the Arcadia Theatre started as the home of summer season revue but once the Futurist began presenting spectacular variety shows, the Arcadia presented comedy and staged summer-long farces starring some very famous names.
Like the big shows next door, these farces played twice nightly Monday to Saturday and the neighbouring Theatres must have constituted a gold mine for Catlins Scarborough Entertainments Ltd. The Futurist shows would play Blackpool's Opera House either the year before or after while the Arcadia comedies would likewise play Blackpool's Grand Theatre. A few years ago, the Futurist's last manager - the welcoming and enterprising Andrew Nisbet - very kindly showed me around the Theatre he and I loved so much.
Whilst on the stage, I recalled the erstwhile Arcadia , a Theatre he was too young to remember. He smiled as I described the smaller Theatre and then said "Come and have a look over here". We entered a store room on audience left which went even further back than the Futurist's back stage wall. He pointed out the brickwork on one of the walls at right angles to the Futurist stage and I found to my amazement that I was standing on what had been the Arcadia's stage.
The brickwork clearly showed the proscenium of the Arcadia from the actors' point of view. The opening had been bricked up but the outline of the arch was unmistakeably visible and vindicated my boyhood memory of just how it once appeared.
The revelation also showed that the enlargement of the Futurist stage actually took only a small part of the Arcadia, perhaps a fifth of its overall width. This would explain the former Arcadia's later use as an indoor market as so much spare space remained following the construction of the Futurist's new stage house.
The sight which faced me as I descended Bland's Cliff was one I never hoped to see. The stage house and proscenium arch were gone and there was the sweeping, handsome auditorium, open to the elements and being nibbled away by the demolition team and somewhat cruelly illuminated by the bright sunshine. I left Scarborough with a very heavy heart but with many wonderful memories of the vast and magnificent Theatre which played a significant part in both my life and career.
T he Futurist had the distinction of being the fifth largest Theatre in the country outside of London but for many years had been threatened with closure and demolition. In July plans to redevelop the Theatre's site were rubber stamped despite objections from locals and campaigns to save the Theatre. In November a petition signed by more than 4, people was handed to the Council in an effort to save the Theatre from demolition, and the Theatres Trust objected to the plans to demolish the building, which at the time was at number 12 on its Theatres at Risk Register , but despite all this in November it was announced that Secretary of State had refused to call in the Scarborough Borough Council's decision to demolish the Theatre.
The Theatre had closed in and all hope of it being saved was crushed when demolition of the Theatre was begun in the summer of Jason Mullen says that the photos record the 'sad end to a building that was one of the last surviving 's super cinemas and the destination of so many summer season performers such as Ken Dodd many times over the years and bands including the Beatles in When Kiralfy's Arcadia was closed and demolished in to make way for the building of the Futurist Theatre , the Palladium Picture House was renamed the Arcadia Theatre, and was then used for live Theatre until it closed in The Futurist Theatre next door, which was built as a cine-variety Theatre, had been used for live theatre and Cinema since it opened in , and was expanded in so that a new larger stage could be built over the site of the Arcadia Theatre, formerly the Palladium Picture House, and that was the end for the Arcadia Theatre.
T he Aquarium, Scarborough was built by Eugenius Birch, in and was demolished in Unlike the Brighton Aquarium , which still exists though much altered , almost nothing is left of the Scarborough Aquarium, which was sited beneath the Valley Bridge.
At 36 ft square, one of the tanks was the largest in the world and held tons of water; it was sometimes used for swimming exhibitions. The Aquarium buildings included a concert hall, reading room, dining room and fernery and, with its Japanese theatre and villages, the whole was something of a 19th century theme park. Red, buff and black encaustic tiles with a central hawthorn blossom pattern ornamented the dados, while those used on the floor were patterned with shells, seaweed, starfish and dolphins.
Amid this colourful mass of international motifs, English pastoral scenes in oils were intended to add light and interest to the concert hall A swimming bath was added in , a theatre in and a skating rink in , but the crowds stayed away; by the Aquarium was in the hands of liquidators.
Scarborough Council ran the buildings as Galaland between and , but demolition, and the loss of one of the best of the seaside pleasure palaces, came a few years later.. Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed at the Aquarium, Scarborough in The exterior consisted of five tall arched windows on the first two levels and a small attic level above with five square windows.
There was a wide ornate staircase leading from the left side of the ground floor entrance to the auditorium which was situated on the first and second floor of the building and had one horseshoe shaped balcony which was supported by cast iron columns and had three rows of seating down each side of the auditorium and eight at the rear, neither level was raked and the auditorium was much like many music halls of the period such as Wiltons , or the Britannia, Glasgow.
In the owners applied for demolition of the building which by then was in a very sorry state. The Theatres Trust along with English Heritage were alerted to the situation and the Hall was hastily Spot Listed Grade II but this didn't stop further applications for demolition in September of the same year.
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