North Pier Pavilion
An Art-Deco pier pavilion dating from the 1930s, now one of only five operating pier theatres in the country.
The Blackpool Pier Company opened the North Pier in 1863, and it is now the oldest of the surviving piers built by renowned promenade pier architect and engineer Eugenius Birch. The current Pavilion, in the Art-Deco style, dates from 1939. This is a popular local venue which forms part of Blackpool’s overall cultural offer. It is Grade II listed, and one of only six operating pier theatres in the country, and one of only four operating on the seaward end of the pier. The owner of the North Pier also owns the neighbouring Central and South Piers. Together these structures form an historic grouping of piers which the World Monuments Fund has recently included on its 2018 World Monuments Watch List.
Why is this theatre at risk?
In December 2013 the North Pier was severely damaged by strong winds. This caused the seaward end of the pier to close for health and safety reasons. It reopened in April 2014, however, there are still concerns relating to the safety of parts of the structure. During the storm damage, the orchestra pit was sucked out from underneath the theatre. This has caused a void directly under the front of the stage which has affected the usability of the theatre and is causing issues with water and weather penetration. Whilst the theatre has since been reopened and is currently operational, it is still considered at risk due to the condition of the pier.
During the winter of 2015/16 Blackpool Borough Council undertook a structural survey of the pier and has been engaging with the owners on a structural repair programme. It is noted that the survey did not include the theatre. The survey has led to a further review to examine options for the pier structure. The review is being led by Blackpool Council working in conjunction with the pier’s owners, Historic England, The National Piers Society, Victorian Society and Theatres Trust.
In 2017, and following a successful bid supported by Theatres Trust, it was announced that Blackpool’s three piers were to be placed on the World Monuments Fund (WMF) Watch List. This is a selective list of cultural heritage sites around the world that are at risk and helps raise visibility and public awareness, aids in fostering local engagement in their protection, and will help leverage for new resources for conservation.
The WMF together with Blackpool Council are arranging an international conference on coastal heritage and climate change which is to take place in Blackpool in September 2019.
Image: North Pier Pavilion, Theatres Trust