Former Winter Gardens, Llandudno
Former Winter Gardens, Gloddaeth Street
well appointed B&B
located in the
heart of Llandudno
16 Chapel Street,
In 1934 the Rochdale-born brothers Zach and James Brierley, whose family fortune came from pork pies, acquired the site of a former vineyard on Gloddaeth Avenue. They owned the Creams Coach Hire Company and needed a new garage, which they built on the site of what is now Ormeside Grange.
Being enterprising, they decided that Llandudno needed a multi-storey car park which they proceeded to build over the garage. This proved unpopular, as there were so few cars about then that owners were quite happy to leave them parked on the road. So Plan B: they decided to convert the car park into a cinema. The talkies were just coming in. But they hit a snag – no insurance company wanted to know. A place of entertainment over a garage was potentially lethal!
So Plan C: out went the coaches and in came a spacious ballroom underneath the cinema. It became known as the Winter Gardens Theatre, Cinema and Ballroom. It was a massive building, much taller than any other in the town, designed by local architect Arthur Hewitt. James Yates, father of the famous television personality Jess Yates, did the electrical installation. The interior was Art Deco and a Christie Electric Organ was installed which would rise majestically out of the floor, glowing with multi-coloured lights, to amaze the audiences. Seating nearly 2,000, it was equipped for live stage performances and film projections. For the opening event in March 1935, Gracie Fields, who was now seen as a film star, gave a live telephone message of good wishes which was relayed to the audience through the speaker system.
After only 18 months the complex was losing money. The Brierleys sold it to Oscar Deutsch, owner of the Odeon chain of cinemas. He took over and renamed the cinema as an Odeon while the ballroom retained the Winter Gardens name. The Welsh National Opera was an annual visitor but probably the most famous live performers were the Beatles, who came in August 1963, at the start of ‘Beatlemania’.
Zach died in 1957. His grave is in the Great Orme cemetery. The complex closed in 1986 and was demolished in 1989.
With thanks to John Lawson-Reay, of Llandudno & Colwyn Bay History Society
Postcode LL30 2DF