In the back streets of Morecambe’s West End, usefully employed as a specialist community centre, lies a long-forgotten music hall.
The Devonshire Hall was built in 1899, seating eight hundred people, two hundred of them in the balcony.
It consists of a ground-floor that must always have been shops, and at first-floor level a flat-floored auditorium.
Dangerfield’s General Entertainment Guide (1901) informs potential letting clients of “Has no dramatic license [sic];… Platform permanent 14 by 12 deep with electric footlights; Terms one night 40s, a reduction made for a longer period; Extras electric light per meter; Has dressing rooms”.
The building was divided in the 1930s, the upper floor used a snooker hall while the ground floor became a paint factory.
In 1996 it became a music centre and rehearsal space, The Hothouse, for More Music, a community music and education charity founded in 1993: http://www.moremusic.org.uk.
The first phase of renovation by seven architecture [sic] [http://www.sevenarchitecture.co.uk/projects/category/id/1/project/2] was completed in 2011. The fine original timber and steel roof remains in situ but is invisible and inaccessible above a suspended ceiling.
The not-for-profit occupiers have put the building to excellent purpose – http://www.thevisitor.co.uk/news/morecambe-and-district-news/more-music-announced-as-chosen-charity-1-5471446 – and given it a better chance of survival than most of Morecambe’s entertainment heritage has had.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lectures on seaside architecture, Away from it all: the heritage of holiday resorts, Beside the Seaside: the architecture of British coastal resorts, Blackpool’s Seaside Heritage and Yorkshire’s Seaside Heritage, please click here.
The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2013 Lancashire’s Seaside Heritage tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £15.00 including postage and packing. To view sample pages click here. Please send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.