Dancing at Belle Vue
From its earliest days Belle Vue offered a wide variety of entertainment and music and dancing have been a part of it almost from the beginning. Across from the Firework Lake John Jennison built a viewing stand in 1852 capable of seating 4000 people.
Beneath the stand was a ballroom and in front of it was an outdoor dancing platform. The outdoor dancefloor continued to be used from the early 1850s until the Second World War. It was little used for dancing after that although it was used for roller skating for a while. In 1957 an old stable block near the Bobs was converted at the cost of £30,000 into the Bavarian Banqueting Suite with a sprung maple floor for Danicing. It was called the Bavarian Banquet Suite. At the same time the former Pagoda Restaurant was converted in to an Elizabethan Style Restaurant seating 300. Syd Lane painted murals on the walls of both facilities.
In 1958 a devastating fire destroyed the whole block that contained the former Pagoda Restaurant, the viewing stand and the outdoor platform. Provoked by falling incomes the company quickly began rebuilding and adding new attractions however construction delays, partly blamed on a shortage of bricks, held up progress on some of the planned buildings. The Elizabethan Ballroom wasn't ready for its grand opening until December of 1960.
In an article entitled "New Ballroom is tribute to youth" Stanley Siddall wrote about the new ballroom in the Evening Chronicle "..this new ballroom is really something worth shouting about. It is one of the largest ballrooms in Europe and probably the largest in England. It is 420 feet long and covers an area of more than 60,000 square feet. When in full use it will hold 3,800 dancers including 2,000 people circulating in the bars, lounges and balcony.... behind all the brickwork, the thick, soft carpets and the sparkling chandeliers lies a faith in youth. For youth has been behind the design of this £250,000 building."
....."From the main ballroom one walks into the Carlisle Lounge and bar and then into the Edinburgh Suite.....On the walls of the Edinburgh Suite are six delightfully painted Scottish scenes .... The artist behind all of this is Mr. Sidney Lane (see below), a free-lance painter who came to Belle Vue for a special job and has stayed for 12 years. The new ballroom will be open every weeknight. There will be three bands, Fred Bonelli and his Old Time Orchestra, Johnny Drake and his Crewmates and Bunny Baker and his Mainstreamers.