The Spa, Bridlington

Infobox Theatre
name = The Spa, Bridlington

image_size = 200px
caption = The Spa, Bridlington during renovation
address = Bridlington Spa Theatre and Royal Hall

South Marine Drive


East Riding of Yorkshire

YO15 3JH

Telephone – Spa Box Office 01262 678258

Spa Offices 01262 678255

Spa Fax 01262 604625
city = Bridlington
country = England, UK
designation =
latitude = 54.088
longitude = -0.2004
architect =
owner = East Riding of Yorkshire County Council
capacity = 950
type = Traditional
opened = 1896
yearsactive =
rebuilt = 1932
closed =
othernames =
production =
currentuse =
website =

The Spa complex in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, was named the New Spa and Gardens when it was built, together with the adjoining sea wall, in 1896 by Whitaker Brothers of Horsforth, Leeds. After paying at the turnstile people could enter five acres of flower beds, walks and grassed areas, have meals in the refreshment rooms, go to the theatre or a concert, or simply sit and listen to the band playing in the glass domed bandstand. The lake was kept filled by the iron rich water of a chalybeate spring. Lit at night by multi coloured electric lights the spa had 80,000 visitors in one month. cite web|url= |title=Bridlington Guide |accessdate=2008-05-20 |last=Hirst |first=Gwendoline |date=2007 ] The theatre burnt down in October 1906, but was renovated and reopened in 1907 as the New Spa Opera House designed by W S Walker. It was used to show a new invention, the cinematograph.

The complex was bought by the Corporation in 1919 and it was decided to replace the old buildings in 1925 when the Spa Royal Hall was built at a cost of £50,000. This became a popular place along the East Yorkshire coast to go for dancing and concerts, with Herman Darewski and his Radio Band playing there from 1926 until 1937. Another fire in January 1932 destroyed the hall, but once again it was rebuilt, in the record time of 52 days, and reopened in July 1932.After the rebuilding there were two cafes, a Palm Court, a solarium and a dance hall. There was a charge at the turnstiles until the 1950s to enter the gardens. The Spa closed in 2005 for extensive renovation and is expected to reopen in 2008.


The complex opened on July 27, 1896, with the introduction of Herr Meyer Lutz's Grand Band and under the astute management of Henry Hague, proved to be an enormous success, with the Spa Theatre and the glass dome for ballroom dancing being the jewels in the crown. People could stay all day for sixpence. On the evening of October 20, 1906, at around 9 p.m. a fire broke out. The fire spread rapidly and the building was engulfed by the time the horse-drawn fire engine arrived from its depot in Ashville Street. The fire crew, led by Chief Captain Rennard, managed to save the famous glass dome adjoining the northern end of the theatre. Plans were drawn up for a replacement by Messers Whittaker Bros and the New Spa Company, under the guidance of the architect, Mr W. S. Walker. The general building contract went to William Spink, of Bridlington. Just nine months later on July 29, 1907, the opening ceremony was performed by Mrs Beerbohm Tree, a renowned actress of the British stage, and the wife of Mr
Herbert Beerbohm Tree, the actor and famous impresario. cite web|url= |title=Day Bridlington Spa Theatre burnt to the ground |accessdate=2008-05-19 |publisher=Bridlington Free Press ]

In 1914 the council took a lease on the Spa and in 1919 they purchased it. In 1925 the council replaced the last of the 1890s Spa with new Spa Royal Hall. It opened in 1926 and was built at a cost of £50,000 it was a flagship art deco building.On the night of 29 January 1932 it burnt down though fortunately the theatre was not badly damaged and able to reopen at Easter. In a remarkable feat of design and construction the new Royal Hall was designed by the borough architect Peter Newton and built in 52 days to re-open in July 1932.Before 1939 the Spa provided plays and variety in the theatre and dancing in the Royal Hall. Herman Darewski was the well-known and very successful musical director at the Spa from 1924 to 1939. After World War II the traditional holiday trade and entertainments continued but as the 1960s dawned, the motorcar, increased wealth and the package tour brought about changes. The British seaside resort was changing again, the Spa moved away from weekly shows, and the theatre and dances in the hall, to a new broader entertainment base. The Royal hall has been a feature of the British Rock circuit now for over 30 years with many famous artists playing it.The world darts championship used this venue before its refurbishment and the World Finals of the 2008 Winmau World Masters will return to The Spa [cite web|url= |title=World Darts Federation |accessdate=2008-05-20] . Conference and association use of the facilities has increased to balance the decline in traditional entertainments. cite web|url= |title=Spa History |accessdate=2008-05-19 ]


The facilities of the Spa at Bridlington include the Royal Hall, with a maximum capacity 3000, the Spa Theatre which seats 950 and the smaller Marine Room and Burlington Suite which seat around 100 people each.

Spa Theatre

This is an Edwardian auditorium with a traditional theatre layout of stalls and circle seating provides an environment for music, dance and drama. The Spa Theatre is equipped with sound and lighting systems and has the ability to fly sceneryAn earlier theatre burned down in 1906, the replacement theatre is basically intact today. The interior, with restrained ornament in what was described as Italian Renaissance style, consisted of a pit (with separate entrance) now seated and a single balcony, returned to the proscenium wall and divided into three areas: grand, upper and back circle. The proscenium arch is almost square with a central cartouche containing a female mask. In the ceiling is a round saucer dome with four relief plaster leaf scrolls and four smaller swags dividing the dome. The whole is surrounded by a moulded cornice. In the main part, above the stalls, there is an octagonal raised cornice. The balcony, supported on plain columns, has a panelled front with rich plaster scrolls. The walls at both levels are simply decorated with panels. The balcony is now divided into two areas separated by a barrier approximately two feet high. The disused entrance on the Esplanade (dated 1907) is in three bays, modestly detailed in classical style with a segmental pediment over the centre. The two entrance doors set in a projecting enclosed porch under a curved-fronted balcony supported on consoles.The entrance on South Marine Drive gives access to a good sized foyer nearly at circle level with the former main entrance on the Esplanade at stalls/pit level. In January 1932 the adjacent Royal Hall was gutted by fire. The Spa Theatre suffered minor smoke and water damage. An insurance settlement allowed rapid repair and full redecoration, the theatre reopening at Easter 1932. It remained open whilst the Royal Hall was reconstructed. cite web|url= |title=Spa (Bridlington) |accessdate=2008-05-19 |date=2005 |publisher=The Theatres Trust Theatres Database ]

Royal Hall

The 1930s decor of the Royal Hall/Ballroom provides the setting for dances and social functions - the dance floor is considered to be one of the finest in the country.The Royal Hall has hosted a number of prestigious events throughout the year including televised sports and major rock concerts.Overlooking the dance floor is a balcony with fixed seating. The Royal Hall holds a maximum of 3000 people for a standing concert or 1700 theatre style.

The Burlington Suite has views across the sea and a bar, and can be divided into two sections, it has a total seating capacity of 120.

The Marine Room is of a similar size to the Burlington Suite.It is a light and airy room with direct access to the street. It has a maximum capacity of 200 and regular uses include trade fairs, exhibitions, table tennis, training sessions and public meetings. [ cite web|url= |title=Facilities |accessdate=2008-05-19 ]


Bridlington Spa and Theatre is situated on the south promenade on the sea front adjacent to the harbour. Whilst the building is protected from the ravages of the North Sea by Bridlington Bay it has nevertheless been subjected to tidal flooding and sea air for almost 100 years. As a consequence much of the structural steelwork and concrete has been contaminated resulting in rusting, spalling and water penetration.

Bosa Contracts were invited by Hall Construction Limited and Wates to provide recommendations to overcome the specific problems in the structural concrete elements including beams and retaining walls within the original structure. With the assistance of Sika Ltd and EPMS proposals and costings were produced using Sika Monotop for concrete repairs, Icosit Activ Primers for structural steelwork and a Vapour-Proof Sika 1 Structural Waterproofing System for ground retaining walls. [ cite web|url= |title=Bridlington Spa |accessdate=2008-05-19 ]

Details of the £19.5 million refurbishment include:

* New main entrance and associated alterations to the South Marine Drive elevation

*Remodeling the north end of the building, involving the removal of the single storey offices and construction of a much more compact two storey conference suite

*Addition of new glazed bays to the promenade elevation (including replacement of the yellow brick section)

*New infill to the façade of the Royal Hall

*Wholesale repair, refurbishment and renewal of the external element of the building including doors and windows.

Spa Theatre

This two-tier Edwardian theatre has been stripped back to the bone and rebuilt with 650 new seats, a strengthened structure and modern backstage facilities for moving scenery.A larger lighting and sound box with state-of-the-art technology is now in place at the back of the stalls.

Royal Hall

The 1930s ballroom has kept its art deco character while being given an extensive facelift. Big changes include a new east-facing wall, modern technical facilities and new colour scheme, but most importantly the floor foundations have been entirely rebuilt and a new sprung wooden dance floor laid down. Unseen for years, having been blacked out, every pane of the Dome's arching, patterned, leaded glass canopy has been cleaned and restored to its original condition when it opened in 1932.It is now fitted with an electronically operated black-out curtain to shut out the light if that is what is needed.The ornate, circular frieze has been repainted in colours of the period and reaching out across the ceiling is sunburst gilding.

Harbour Suite

A new wing at the north end of the building houses conference and meeting facilities. The Harbour Suite has large bay windows with extensive sea views, as well as modern technical requirements from laptops and projectors to Wi-Fi, AV and video links to other rooms.


New equipment has been installed in much larger kitchens that will enable The Spa’s chefs to cater for up to 600 guests in one go. It has been equipped with hi-tech cookers, blast chillers and specialist tools.

It was hoped that work on the development would be completed by July 2007 but as the work progressed, it became obvious that the building needed more structural attention than had been planned and budgeted for. cite web|url= |title=The Bridlington Spa - Refurbishment |accessdate=2008-05-19 ] The cost of creating the new multi-purpose venue grew from an estimated £15 million to over £18.5 million. A contribution of £3.94 million of funding from Yorkshire Forward was part of a partnership funding programme between the regional development agency, European Regional Development Fund [ cite web|url= |title=Bridlingto Spa Redevelopment |accessdate=2008-05-20 |date=2007-02-20 |format=pdf ] and East Riding of Yorkshire Council. The contribution forms part of Yorkshire Forward’s commitment to the regeneration of Bridlington as part of its Urban Renaissance programme. The Spa project forms an important aspect of the Bridlington Regeneration Strategy, a 10 year programme to transform Bridlington with upwards of £50 million of investment and the creation of 2,500 new jobs. It is hoped that the modernisation of facilities at the complex, will help boost tourist numbers to the town, contribute to the regeneration of the economy. Additional European funding which takes the grant funding to £10.4 million. [ cite web|url= |title=Bridlington Spa set for makeover |accessdate=2008-05-19 |date=2005 |publisher=Yorkshire Forward ] The Spa’s opening week will run from May 31 to June 7 and will include a concert by rock band The Pigeon Detectives, business events and an open day, as well as more events yet to be announced. cite web|url= |title=A Peek Inside The Spa |accessdate=2008-05-19 ]


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