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New Brighton Palace #325527
3rd Jun 2009 8:53pm
3rd Jun 2009 8:53pm
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uptoncx Offline OP

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In June 1876 a new company was formed, it was called The New Brighton Palace Co and it had a share capital of £100,000. The aims of the company were to build a new entertainment centre in the up and coming resort of New Brighton.

Land alongside the beach was acquired and work started on laying the foundations for the buildings, however work soon came to a stop and it seemed unlikely that the project would be completed. A local resident, Mr Laurence Connolly saw the possibilities and bought the site, he completed the buildings and the Palace opened in 1880.

[Linked Image]

In the winter of 1880 a new salt water bathing pool was added. During the 1882 season, the Palace averaged 10,000 visitors per week

Major changes were made for the 1883 season. The Liverpool Mercury for 22nd March 1883 described it as follows:

Quote
The Palace, Winter Gardens and Grotto, which have been built by Councillor Connolly, promise to prove a highly popular place of recreation amongst the many holiday makers who visit New Brighton in the summer months. Extensive alterations and improvements have been carried out during the past winter, and every effort has been made to render the Palace and its accessories a thoroughly attractive pleasure resort. The whole covers an area of about three acres, a portion of this space being occupied by splendid sea water baths. In the Palace proper, the “great hall” which has an area of 22,000 square feet, has been completely re-decorated since last season, and has been converted into a charming salon for music and dancing. The walls have been painted by Mr T.W.Grieve, of London, who has depicted a succession of picturesque views of English and Irish scenery from Kildare to Richmond. The ceiling has also been elegantly decorated, and the columns and pilasters have been adorned with mirrors. In the Winter Gardens the greenhouses have been plentifully stocked with tropical and other plants, and they already look bright and beautiful with a variety of blossoms. A spacious open air skating rink has been constructed on the roof of the concert hall, and there also have been provided a recreation ground for children, a well stocked aviary and monkey house, and a smaller concert hall. The most attractive addition, however, is an agreeable grotto, which will afford a cool and refreshing retreat in warm weather. It has been constructed by Mr James Cross of Southport and Manchester, and measures 140 feet by 120 feet. The grotto contains a large waterfall, extending from end to end, a distance of 131 feet, and several cascades intertwined with enarchments. Between the archways play fairy fountains of Swiss design. In the centre is a recess constructed of coral and other grotesque formations, and in the middle of the recess a fairy fountain showers crystallised sprays of water. Rugged rock work, relieved with rich ferns, gives the grotto a charming aspect, and the effect is enhanced by the water-jets from many fountains of varied designs erected at different elevations. The crypt is supported by over forty iron columns, all richly embellished in rustic fashion to represent trees, and these have been surrounded with hardy ferns and mosses of various kinds, whilst the fountains and artificial rivulets have been abundantly supplied with mosses, lichens and aquatic plants, numbering altogether over 12,000.


[Linked Image]

Two advertisements were placed in The Era, a London based weekly paper covering theatrical matters, in January 1883, the first offering for rent 1,600 square yards at the Palace for a Circus or similar; the second advert was looking for “New and Sensational Entertainments and Side Shows” for1883 the season.

[Linked Image]

The opening on Good Friday 1883 was marked by a grand concert and a variety show. This was the pattern followed for many years with entertainment of all types being provided, from classical music to variety. As the reputation of the Palace rose, due in no small part to the quality of the sacred music concerts on Sunday afternoons, many famous classical musicians and singers; and many popular variety acts appeared.

In order to perform a play in those days, a licence was required. The Palace applied for a licence in 1887, but the request was turned down.

[Linked Image]

In 1896 the building was bought by a Manchester syndicate who planned to build a giant Ferris wheel on the roof. The wheel would have had 42 carriages, each of which would have held 40 passengers. This was never built.

When the tower theatre opened in 1898, business at the Palace was drastically affected but the theatre managed to keep going, in 1903 to increase the number of patrons, it became the first hall in Wallasey to show animated pictures.

[Linked Image]

In 1907, Wallasey Corporation used its powers under the Tramways and Improvement Act to buy the notorious ‘Ham and Egg Parade’ and most of the other properties, including the Palace, which fronted onto the river. A new, wider, parade and sea wall were built.

The newly formed Tivoli Company took control in 1913, their plan was to rebuild the Palace and build a new arcade and hotel, however these plans were abandoned when problems arose over the building of the Tivoli theatre. The next tenant was Mr Ludwig Blattner who renamed the building the Gaeity and carried out many improvements.


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Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: uptoncx] #325532
3rd Jun 2009 9:07pm
3rd Jun 2009 9:07pm
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uptoncx Offline OP

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Towards the end of the nineteenth century, a Birkenhead rope maker named George Wilkie joined a travelling fairground. After 12 years with the fair, he leased at least part of the Palace site and set up a fairground.

[Linked Image]

A Joy Wheel was located next to the theatre, Joy Wheels were a popular, though short-lived, novelty ride in the early part of the twentieth century. Riders sat on a low, conical disk in the centre of the enclosure, the disk rotated at increasing speed, gradually throwing the riders off. The wheel was surrounded by tiered seating to enable spectators to watch.

In 1916 much of the site was destroyed in a disastrous fire, only the theatre and the skating rink were saved.

There is little information on the Palace complex at this time, but it seems likely that the site was split up into a least two parts, the theatre being rum by Mr Blattner and rest of the site by Mr Wilkie.

There are also very few records as to what was in the fairground, although it is known that Mr Wilkie bought a second hand Burrell Traction Engine after the first World War.

The cinema, which by now had a separate entrance in Virginia Road, closed at the end of 1926.

In 1936 Mr Wilkie demolished what remained of the old Palace complex and put up a new building to house an indoor fairground. The building was called the New Palace and was completed in 1939.

[Linked Image]

While a new roundabout was being built on the promenade, workmen discovered some unmapped caves, Mr W Wilkie had the caves dug out and constructed blast proof rooms in the caves. A munitions factory was set up and production started in March 1942. The weekly output of the small factory under the promenade was 250,000 machine gun bullets, 25,000 shells and 1,400 press button switches for aircraft radios.

[Linked Image]

After the second world war, the indoor fairground prospered, and in 1949 the Wilkies opened a circus on a piece of land next to the New Palace (the area which would later be occupied by the Bright Spot amusement arcade).

[Linked Image]

Some of the rides remained in the New Palace for many years, one of the best known of these was ‘The Jets’. The Jets were an early example of a 'rider-controlled' machine, the rider used a lever to control a pressure valve which raised and lowered the arm. The machine in the New Palace was the third one built, and was bought new in 1955.

[Linked Image]

The Jets remained in the New Palace until 1995 when it was sold. Over the years the ride was ‘modernised’, the original ‘jet planes’ were replaced with ‘space ships’, and the lattice arms were panelled.

[Linked Image]

Another long standing ride was the Waltzer, this was originally built in 1938 and was bought second-hand by Mr Wilki, in 1950. This was the last Waltzer built before the second world war

[Linked Image]

The Waltzer was sold in 1997.

Both these rides are now in preservation, and it is a testament to the care given to these machines that they, and many other rides owned by Wilkie, are still in existence.

Other rides didn’t stay as long in the fairground, Wilkie bought his 1959 Autodrome second-hand in 1985 and it only remained until 1990.

[Linked Image]

In the 1960s, as with everywhere else in New Brighton, trade at the New Palace fell off. The fair struggled on for many years but by the 1980s things were getting desperate. In the late 1980s David Wilkie took over running the New Palace and much of the fairground was cleared out to make space for a go-cart track to be built. This brought in new customers and improved the situation.

[Linked Image]

The go-cart track was closed in 2001, and David Wilkie had the Bright Spot arcade and much of the New Palace demolished. The facade and the shops at the front remained.

[Linked Image]

The New Palace, now an outdoor fairground, continues still under the control of the Wilkie family.


Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: uptoncx] #325542
3rd Jun 2009 9:30pm
3rd Jun 2009 9:30pm
Joined: Jul 2008
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Birkenhead
diggingdeeper Offline

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Brilliant stuff, as always, Upton - well done mate!


The further you are down the pay scale, the more 'essential' you are when the s--- hits the fan... Sue Farbysmith 2020

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Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: uptoncx] #325543
3rd Jun 2009 9:31pm
3rd Jun 2009 9:31pm
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 218
Wallasey
topofthepops Offline

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Fantastic write up uptoncx on New Brighton Palace. Sounds like the grotto was an amazing place, it's a pity we can't have something like that nowadays happy

Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: topofthepops] #325554
3rd Jun 2009 9:49pm
3rd Jun 2009 9:49pm
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tranmere
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bert1 Offline

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Excellent Upton,


God help us,
Come yourself,
Don't send Jesus,
This is no place for children.


Bertieone.
Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: bert1] #325579
3rd Jun 2009 10:31pm
3rd Jun 2009 10:31pm
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 209
Pensby
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8HBob Offline
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I believe that the Gallopers which were located just inside the entrance nearest to the Floral Pavilion were also sold for preservation. These still had the original steam centre engine & organ, althogh being electrically driven when inside the building.
Does anybody know where the ride is now ?

Bob.

Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: 8HBob] #325587
3rd Jun 2009 11:00pm
3rd Jun 2009 11:00pm
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 683
Wirral
uptoncx Offline OP

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You're correct about the Gallopers, but see below:

From Preston Services site:

Quote

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

We are currently in the process of restoring our Thomas Walker 3 abreast steam gallopers to full working glory.
However...

In 1989, just before we bought our set (the ex. Joseph Smith/Bartletts/Chipperfields 3 abreast gallopers, made by Thomas Walker of Tewkesbuy in 1911) from George Wilkie at the New Palace in New Brighton, Merseyside; several items of irreplaceable carve-work were stolen.

And despite the best attempts of the Merseyside police at the time, nothing was ever recovered, although a casual employee at the New Palace was convicted of theft.

It's a long time ago, but presumably the items have all ended up in private collections, purchased quite legitimately through various dealers, etc. We would very much like the opportunity to buy any of the items back, so they can be reinstated on our gallopers. The items include:

1) A superb Gavioili style organ front figure of a girl diaphanously clad, about 36" high.

[Linked Image]

2) Another Gavioli organ figure of a male, savage-like figure, partially clad, about 36" high.

[Linked Image]

3) 2 Galloper horses, carved by Arthur Anderson of Bristol. Middle row and each approx. 65" long. May have ears pointing either forwards of backwards.

[Linked Image]

4) 3 inside row "dobby" style early horses. Each approx. 50" long. Very plain and earlier than the rest of the Walker ride - so presumably they came from Joseph Smith's first machine.

[Linked Image]

5) 9 carved wooden eagles, approx 25" wingspan. These were mounted on top of the domes, after abt. 1935, and came from the Bartletts earlier set.

[Linked Image]

6) 6 large carved, standing eagles, about 24" - fitted to the tops of bottom shutters. Like the smaller eagles, these were from Bartletts earlier set.

[Linked Image]


Last edited by uptoncx; 3rd Jun 2009 11:02pm.
Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: uptoncx] #325599
4th Jun 2009 1:30am
4th Jun 2009 1:30am

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PaulWirral
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PaulWirral
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Anyone wanting to know the full History of all the Wallasey Theatres then please visit my History site.

Link in my signature.

Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: ] #325892
4th Jun 2009 9:41pm
4th Jun 2009 9:41pm
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 2,326
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KevinFinity Offline

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Excellent report. I used to love going on the Jets and the Waltzer. I also remember hanging on for dear life on the easyrider.
Does anyone remember a ride there in the late 80s called the Concorde?. It was mostly orange and was adorned with pictures of glamorous women in spangly swim suites. It spun round really fast and the cars would fly outwads as it got up to speed. I heard that it got taken away because one of the cars flew off. It may not have been true though.

Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: KevinFinity] #325902
4th Jun 2009 10:07pm
4th Jun 2009 10:07pm
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tranmere
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bert1 Offline

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I don't want to take the thread away from New Brighton but you may be thinking of a young girl who was killed on a ride at a traveling fair at Moreton. The fair i think used the field opposite the Apollo club.


God help us,
Come yourself,
Don't send Jesus,
This is no place for children.


Bertieone.
Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: bert1] #326906
9th Jun 2009 2:59pm
9th Jun 2009 2:59pm
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 209
Birkenhead
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peodude Offline
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The go kart track can't have been built in the 80's, i was born in '86, and i remember the old rides that used to be there, before the go kart track was built. It may have been the early 90's that it was done.

I remember both the Waltzers and the Carousel being there, along with the (still standing, now outside) dodgems.

Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: peodude] #326931
9th Jun 2009 3:55pm
9th Jun 2009 3:55pm
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uptoncx Offline OP

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Wilkie's own website says that that the go cart track was built in the late 1980s.

Some of the rides remained after the go cart track was built, these definitely included the Jets (sold in 1995) and the Waltzer (sold in 1997).


Last edited by uptoncx; 9th Jun 2009 3:55pm.
Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: uptoncx] #327052
10th Jun 2009 9:08am
10th Jun 2009 9:08am
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Posts: 526
Wallasey
MerseyMan Offline

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I was more of a golden goose man, because of those 2 pence machince with the moving shelf. Though I loved the viking boat style swings where two people would sit either side and pull their rope to the the swing going as high as possible, even though my big sister always went one step further and made it go too high for me frown

Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: 8HBob] #333818
4th Jul 2009 9:48am
4th Jul 2009 9:48am
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Isle of Wight
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I was into fair organs in the '50s and I remember hearing one there, so it must have been the one in the Gallopers. The only other ones I recall were in the travelling fairs, like Silcocks, who used to visit the Show Grounds in Bebington Road.
Bri

Re: New Brighton Palace [Re: KevinFinity] #333825
4th Jul 2009 10:49am
4th Jul 2009 10:49am
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RUDEBOX Offline
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Originally Posted by KevinFinity
Excellent report. I used to love going on the Jets and the Waltzer. I also remember hanging on for dear life on the easyrider.
Does anyone remember a ride there in the late 80s called the Concorde?. It was mostly orange and was adorned with pictures of glamorous women in spangly swim suites. It spun round really fast and the cars would fly outwads as it got up to speed. I heard that it got taken away because one of the cars flew off. It may not have been true though.
i can recall that ride! Think the accident story is an urban myth though. I too heard it but dont know where and when.


Mia Mabel

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh! Jer-e-my Cor-byn

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