We are shocked to hear of the plans to knock down the ABC theatre in Blackpool and turn it into a car park.
This is sad news for a town that needs to celebrate its heritage and not see it turned into car parks.
The iconic venue hosted many music and comedy legends like the Beatles and Morecambe and Wise in the sixties and was the place where the Beatles first performed Yesterday live.
One of the great things about Blackpool was that it retained some of its old theatres unlike other seaside towns like Rhyl that lost the lot. There have been plenty of really bad planning decisions made in the seaside town which have left it with many pointless concrete blots on the landscape but not enough to totally ruin its heritage.
Losing the ABC would be really sad. The building is a shadow of its former self with the outer shell being an facade built by the Syndicate night club who took the place over in the nineties and turned it into hip nightclub. With a bit of work the venue could be restored to a classic look in a town that desperately needs a touch of the classic.
With the Winter Gardens being just round the corner and the new town square being in between the two it would be a great opportunity to have a heritage quarter in the town and a space for creative for arts and entertainment in a town that built its reputation on entertainment more than ar parks.
A little bit of history for you…
Originally built at a large ballroom/music hall called the Empire with a flat floor and gallery around three sides, and shallow stage it was converted a to circus in 1900 and renamed Hippodrome. In 1910 the arena was removed and the main floor raked for cinema use, with seasonal variety. After use as a TV theatre for live variety shows in the 1950s and early 60s the theatre was almost totally rebuilt in 1963, leaving very little of the Hippodrome. The outer side, front and rear walls follow the footprint of the old theatre and are probably three-quarters height of the original. Designed by C J Foster (chief architect for ABC), it consisted of a stalls and deep single balcony with a combined capacity of 1934. The ceiling was lit by hundreds of small individual lamps set in gold moulded panels concealing ventilation and sound. After many years of theatre usage the auditorium was split into three cinemas. The stage, orchestra pit and original (1963) proscenium and front stalls and dressing rooms all survive behind the screens of 2 & 3, but are nothing to excite. The cinema closed in 1998 and subsequently re-opened in December 2002 as a nightclub.