Over 4000 visitors came to celebrate 80 years of the De La Warr Pavilion on Saturday 12 December 2015. Living up to its name The People’s Palace, the foyers, balconies, café bar and staircases were thronging with people – many of whom dressed in glamorous 1930s style.
The Retro Swing Quartet entertained the crowds under the South Staircase with tunes of the era and the glittering girls from Debonnaire Entertainment danced the rumba – the dance craze of 1935. Later on in the day we were treated to a performance by ESSPA students, the youngest of whom re-created the famous Ovaltinies advert. Visitors were fascinated by the 1934 original model of the Pavilion, borrowed from Bexhill Museum as well as some of the original plans, drawings and a poster for the opening concert on the walls. In the Auditorium Foyer we screened two of the most popular films of 1935 – The 39 Steps and Top Hat -and at midday Pavilion expert Julian Porter gave one of his informative and engaging behind the scenes tours.
On the first floor in the north staircase we displayed our “cake” made with local groups in workshops led by artist Beccy McCray, whilst outside Gallery 2, the Bexhill Classic Cycle Club displayed their beautiful bicycles. You could sample 1930s inspired cocktails from our cocktail bar such as The Mary Pickford and The Sidecar as well as Pavilion35, the new beer especially created for us by Franklin’s Brewery and which we are now selling as draft behind the bar. Our 1930s menu included liver and bacon –enjoyed by Danny Pike of BBC Radio Sussex broadcasting live on the day – fish pie and corned beef sandwiches. Lunch was accompanied by the London String Quartet playing the popular music of the time.
On the rooftop foyer, families were treated to Geoff Felix’s Punch and Judy, as well as a display of tin plate toys from Bexhill Museum (which runs until 31 January). Legend Photography were also taking glamorous shots of people dressed in costume on the balcony.
Outside we created a Concourse d’Elegance of vintage cars courtesy Bexhill 100.
As on December 12 1935 speeches were made at 3pm. The Mayor of Bexhill, Cllr Watson, read out some of the original speeches that were made 80 years ago and Stewart Drew, Director of the Pavilion thanked everyone for coming and listed some of the amazing artists and performers that have exhibited and performed here. But the real stars of the show were Honorary Patron Eddie Izzard and his father John who, as a boy, took part in the opening in 1935. Their speeches of reminiscence fo the past and support for the future of the Pavilion were greeted with loud cheers from the crowds.
At 5pm the doors opened to a magnificent Tea Dance by the Ragroof Players and Michael Law’s Piccadilly Dance Orchestra. Over 200 people tripped the Light Fantastic to tunes from the first half of the 20th Century.
The building itself looked spectacular with its new branding prominent in all displays. And hats off to La Collina Gardens for their classic and beautiful displays of flowers and greenery throughout the whole Pavilion.
12 December 2015 was a truly memorable day in the story of the De La Warr Pavilion.
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