The Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl has celebrated its milestone 90th anniversary with an afternoon tea party, where guests were entertained by senior members of Bridgend Youth Theatre performing a selection of favourite show tunes from nine decades of musical theatre.
To mark the special occasion, a new wall display which documents some of the most memorable moments from the Grand Pavilion’s history since its opening in August 1932 to date, has been unveiled in the theatre’s foyer.
Throughout the week, theatre practitioner Jenny Lockyer and a team of volunteers met visitors on the seafront and in the café to collect people’s personal memories of the Grand Pavilion. These have also been put on display in the theatre.
The memories demonstrate how the Grand Pavilion has cemented its place in the heart of the community over the last 90 years, and how the theatre has become entwined in people’s lives from meeting future spouses at dances, to performing on stage and seeing some famous names.
One reads: “The Grand Pavilion has many special memories for our family. My mum used to dance here as a teenager in the 1950s, her and my Dad watched all the grandchildren perform on stage with BYT and school shows, and happy retirement years having coffee with friends.”
Another recalls how Rob Brydon, who regularly performed at the Grand Pavilion alongside fellow actor Ruth Jones, advised students attending a school presentation that if they listened to their teachers, they too could be the voice of Toilet Duck!
Richard Hughes, Chief Executive of Awen Cultural Trust, the registered charity which manages the Grand Pavilion on behalf of Bridgend County Borough, said:
“For 90 years, the Grand Pavilion has been at the heart of arts and culture in Porthcawl and across the county borough of Bridgend, and we are immensely proud that Awen is now playing a part in its fantastic history. So many people have special memories of the venue, from miners’ fortnight, meeting their future husband or wife at the weekly dance, taking part in the school productions with some now famous names, to family traditions of attending the annual pantomime or Elvis festival!
“Our anniversary celebrations have given Awen and Bridgend County Borough Council the opportunity to thank the local communities who have been so loyal and supportive of the venue, the performers and backstage crews who have brought so many fantastic events to the stage over the years, and the staff – past and present – who work so hard to make the Grand Pavilion such a wonderful place for everyone to enjoy.
“This milestone anniversary has been a chance to reflect on the past, but also look ahead to an even more exciting future for the Grand Pavilion, as we await the outcome of the application to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund, which will help protect and preserve the theatre’s cultural heritage and period features, whilst also meeting the needs and aspirations of the people who live, work and visit Porthcawl with more accessible and inclusive facilities.”
Council Leader, Huw David said: “I was delighted to be invited to the celebratory event to mark the 90th anniversary of the Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl. So much has changed since 1932, when this Grade II listed building was built, but clearly what hasn’t altered, is the pavilion has remained at the very heart of this community, continually enriching the cultural life of the town.
“Over the decades local audiences have been fortunate to witness some of the country’s greatest talents rise to fame and became international superstars and household names, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sir Tom Jones, Rob Brydon, Ruth Jones, and Eddie Izzard to name but a few. They learned their craft and entertained many audiences along the way from this very stage.
“We are proud that Bridgend Youth Theatre and Porthcawl Comprehensive School continues to develop and nurture young talent in the county borough for the next generation of artists.
“Just as we invest in our people, we are also keen to invest in this cherished, iconic building. We are excited to be working with our partners at Awen to develop a vision and plans for a major £13m investment in the Grand Pavilion, which will not only safeguard, but extend and renew this jewel in the crown for future generations to come.”