Monday, 17 August 2009

The End...of the Pier Show

As mentioned in an earlier post, this is the Programme from the final Summer Season show at the Pier Pavilion, Llandudno, 'Startime Follies of 1984'. After 98 years of orchestral concerts, variety shows, guest stars...and the legendary Alex Munro, the theatre closed at the end of the 1984 season due to falling audiences, increased maintenance costs and fire regulations. The theatre remained unused and empty until it was destroyed by fire in 1994....apart from its basement (see below):

The basement? Well, that was turned into 'The Llandudno Dungeon', a walk through horror waxworks exhibition, featuring scenes from the more gruesome aspects of human history, all built at a cost of over £100,000. Scenes depicted included a full size replica of a Victorian London street, complete with Sweeney Todd's barber shop, Mrs. Lovett's Pie Shop and an opium den, 'Horrors of the Rack', Execution of Charles I, the 1665 Great Plague of London, body snatchers at work and a full size model of a guillotine This novel attraction proved successful for a few years but closed at the end of 1990, when the entire exhibition was sold and shipped to France:

I went round the Dungeon a few times...and it was great fun! Does anyone else remember visiting it? I remember the man that ran in on behalf of the owner saying that it used to make a fair few pounds on a busy day.


Trojan said...

Never went to the dungeon under the pavilion unfortunately, but I do remember the vintage car attraction - seem to remember they had two steering wheels, which didn't really work, as the electrically driven cars were on a track.

Been to the London Dungeon in South London a few times, which is based along similar lines according to the Llandudno advertisement from the '80's. There's also dungeon attractions in York, Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Edinburgh.

I wonder if the Llandudno one was the pre-curser?

Chameleon said...

Am I right in thinking you started the Vintage Car ride outside the Pavilion and then went in down this long ramp, then eventually emerged again the other side of the main entrance? I remember it but cant remember how it all worked. I wonder if anyone has any pics, surely there must be some somewhere?

When you went into the Dungeon, you walked down this long, winding ramp and I have an idea the rails for the Vintage Car ride were still in place.

Trojan said...

That's right, all the cars were lined up outside, then went down, the ramp into the basement on a 'track', then came back out up the ramp on the other side. Standing facing the pavilion on the pier, they went in on left, and exited on the right.

I'm trying to remember what was inside at the time."Around the world in 80 day's" rings a bell, but that may have been a different attraction.

Chameleon said... was the Vintage Car ride the same as the Round The World Ride? I think it might have been.

Not strictly relevant, but I remember that the area on the left of the Pavilion main entrance that used to be the starting poiint for the Ride was the outdoor seating area for the shortlived 'Cambria' cafe when I first started on the pier (about 1988). Later on, it became the home of the SuperX Simulator (manned at times by me).

On the right hand side of the Pavilion entrance, there was a variety of shortlived shops and attractions over the years - the only one I really remember is 'Panning For Gold', which had these large trays of water you had to sift through to try and find some gold. Unsurprisingly, little was ever found!

Carrying on past that slightly (but before you got to the Grand Hotel), you came to Frank's Newspaper Kiosk, which was built underneath one of the external iron stairways, to the left of which was a back entrance into the Pavilion (may have been a Stage Door originally, as it led straight into the dressing room area).

Anyway, this door led to a little room that was full of chest freezers containing ice cream - I remember one of my first jobs was lugging case upon case of Cornettos over to the Ice Cream Kiosk at the front entrance. Later on, the Pavilion's owner, Anthony Bagshaw, let it out to a Fortune Teller.

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