Hola Sunshine! The Spanish Hall is Open to the Skies Once More

02 July 2019 by Editor

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The beautiful Andalusian venue created by film set designer Andrew Mazzei is once again enjoying sunny days and moonlit nights following renovation works on the Spanish Hall’s roof.

For more than 15 years the ceiling of this stunning space has been covered by a canopy – but now that vital repairs have been completed to replace the room’s glazing system, visitors can once again dance beneath the sunlight, stars and sparkling chandeliers.

The painstaking and expensive task of restoring the Spanish Hall to its former glory was funded by Blackpool Council and Historic England, with work carried out by Conlon Construction.

Photograph courtesy of Conlon Construction: Neil Conlon with BBC North West's Dave Guest

The huge project also included the reinstatement of the clusters of clouds that were removed in the early 1990s and refurbishment of all six of the original chandeliers. Finishing touches included a new carpet and the re-varnishing of the dance floor.

As one of the Winter Gardens’ best kept secrets, the Spanish Hall with its elaborate “courtyard” was built in 1931 and provided a spectacular open setting for fine dining, afternoon teas and dances.

A “canopy of sky, sun and rainbow”

It was created during massive upgrades of the venue led by JC Derham - resident architect for the owner, Blackpool Tower Company. News reports at the time proclaimed it “the jewel of the whole scheme”, boasting decorative balconies in each corner and a soaring roof with painted clouds representing a “canopy of sky, sun and rainbow”.

Image courtesy of: www.arthurlloyd.co.uk

The extravagant theme is a rare UK example of the American “atmospheric design” which was popular during the Depression Era, when lavish architecture and Art Deco provided escapism from the grim 1930s.

Now that the canopy has been removed, those marvelling at the heady heights of the ceiling and the clouds above can easily imagine the bygone days when guests whirled around the floor at dances and sipped tea against the intricate backdrop - with its three-dimensional frieze featuring Andalusian villages and hills.

“The most beautiful hall in Britain…has perpetual sunshine by day, and in the evening the wonderful vista of Andalusian Hills and Villages with their tiny hamlets depict a panorama of scenic grandeur by moonlight…the magnificent gilded gates of a Grandee's mansion might have been transplanted from an old-world garden in Granada.” Taken from a caption in a 1938 Winter Gardens programme

Many have likened the hall to a Hollywood movie set, and today it provides a unique backdrop for banquets, conferences, weddings and exhibitions, with a capacity for 700.

Those who would like to see the hall in all its summer splendour can view the Spanish suite and learn more about its fascinating history and architecture on one of the Winter Gardens Tours. The next one is Monday 8th July, with tickets priced at just £10. 

Fact File

  • The Spanish Hall opened on the 28th May 1931.
  • The lavish Andalusian theme was created by film set designer Andrew Mazzei.
  • Made for fine dining, dancing and afternoon tea, the 1937 Grand Coronation Gala Dinner Dance was held there.
  • The hall is part of the Spanish suite, alongside the Baronial Hall, Windsor Suite and Renaissance Restaurant, with Art Deco cocktail bar.
  • The roof has now been refurbished with glass panels so guests can view the skies and stars.
  • Said to be haunted, staff have reported hearing footsteps chasing them when locking up.

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