I came across this photo taken prior to the erection of the first of the buildings to occupy the site at the junction of the Royal Marine Road and the Queen’s Road which we all affectionately came to know as the ‘Pav’
The first of the structures, and the most impressive was built in 1903 but the ideas of such an entertainment venue were laid down some 30 years previously in 1870. Then like today ideas were shelved and it wasn’t until December 1902 that the committee of the newly formed Pavilion Gardens Company met in the Royal Marine Hotel and decided to resurrect the venture. By February of 1903 plans were laid before Kingstown Urban District Council, passed and work began immediately on the structure.
The most amazing thing about the structure for me anyway, even though I knew it was made of timber, steel and glass, was that it opened its doors to the paying public in June of that same year and what an impressive building it proved to be.
The building had a roof top garden. At each of the four main corners were ‘belvederes’ a castle type structure offering uninterrupted views from the mountains to the sea. The main building consisted of a concert room, smoking rooms and reading rooms. Outside the gardens consisted of flower beds, waterfall, shaded spaces for deck chairs and a band stand. A large lawned area was also a feature and was to serve as a bowling green and for lawn tennis and badminton.
Nothing has changed much in nearly 100 years because the very next day, less than 24hours after opening a letter to the Times no less complained about subscribers having to pay to gain access to some of the advertised performances and by the 30th of June the good aul Corpo stuck their little knife in as well because they objected to the gates and they had to be repositioned. One year after the opening a crowd of 4000 people attended a Viennese evening which was followed by a fire works display.
The next biggy was a visit by the Atlantic Fleet to Kingstown and that was in 1906. The Pav, or to give it its full title ‘the Pavilion and Winter Gardens was to host a Ball to honour the officers of the Fleet. The Town Hall was also to play a part in the celebrations and for ease of passage between the two venues a covered in footbridge was erected across the Marine Road
John McCormack sang there in 1908 and by 1911 the subscribers had resolved their differences with management as it was now very fashionable to be mentioned in the newspapers as having attended a function there.
Gawd, there was some effort in laying out the seats for the concerts and taking them in for the dances.
Disaster struck on the 15th November 1915 when in the space of 4 hours the building was razed to the ground. When the fire was first noticed by a Mrs Page of Corrig Avenue at 1 PM a large crowd began to gather and a company of the Royal Irish Rifles were brought in to keep order. The new building lacked many of the original features, gone was the roof top garden and what I see as a three story building was reduced to two. When the work was completed I cannot find out but the next bit of information I did find concerns permission being granted to allow the Pavilion to give cinema performances in 1920 so the hayday at that stage had long passed The cinema could hold 850 people and the house was full for the first showing of a talkie in 1929.