The Victorian tourists visiting Bridlington needed entertainment and in 1896 the New Spa and Gardens were opened as part of a development by the Whitaker bros.
The 5 acres included a theatre, concert hall, bandstand and refreshment rooms. In 1906 the original theatre was destroyed by fire and the current Spa Theatre and Opera House was opened in 1907 designed by W S Walker and in 1907 was used to show that new invention, the cinematograph.
The Spa is now owned and operated by East Riding council but it will probably come as a surprise that it was in 1914 that the council took a lease on the Spa and in 1919 they purchased it. In 1925 the council replaced the last of the 1890’s Spa with new Spa Royal Hall. Opened in 1926 and built at a cost of £50,000 it was a flagship art deco building. On the night of the 29th Jan 1932 it burnt down though fortunately the theatre was not badly damaged and able to reopen at Easter. In a remarkable feat of design and construction the current Royal Hall was designed by the borough architect Peter Newton and built in 52 days to re-open in July 1932.
Between the wars the Spa provided plays and variety in the Theatre and dancing in the Royal Hall. Herman Darewski was the well-known and very successful musical director at the Spa from 1924 to 1939. After the war the traditional holiday trade and entertainments continued but as the 60’s dawned, the motorcar, increased wealth and the package tour brought about another set of changes. The British seaside resort was changing again, the Spa moved from weekly shows and the theatre and dances in the hall to a new broader base. The Royal hall has been a feature of the British Rock circuit now for over 30 years with many famous artists playing it, while conference and association use of the facilities has increased to balance the decline in the more traditional entertainments.
The Spa still consists of the theatre and hall. The theatre with its circle and balcony can hold up to 683 people while the Royal Hall has a maximum of 3800 for a standing concert. It still fills the role it was intended to all be it in a modern way, it provides Bridlington with a venue for visitors to use, either as a conference or entertainment centre with over 400 performances, meeting and other events taking place each year attended by over 100,000 people.
Old Spa Programme