Thousands visit De La Warr Pavilion for 80th birthday

A vintage car at the De La Warr Pavilion. Photo by Sin Bozkurt
A vintage car at the De La Warr Pavilion. Photo by Sin Bozkurt
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More than 4000 people to celebrate the De La Warr Pavilion’s (DLWP) 80th birthday on Saturday (December 12).

Living up to its name, the foyers, balconies, café bar and staircases of The People’s Palace were filled with people – many of whom dressed in glamorous 1930s style.

Music, games, speeches and dancing were abundant to help celebrate the anniversary of its opening in 1935.

DLWP director Stewart Drew thanked everyone who made the day so special and encouraged visitors to email their pictures of the day to

“Thank you to the community for your support of the day, especially those who were here at the opening,” he said.

“Here’s to the next 80 years.”

The Retro Swing Quartet entertained the crowds under the South Staircase with tunes of the era and the glittering girls from Debonnaire Entertainment danced the rumba – the dance craze of 1935.

Visitors were treated to a performance by ESSPA students, the youngest of whom re-created the famous Ovaltinies advert.

The 1934 original model of the pavilion was borrowed from Bexhill Museum as well as some of the original plans, drawings and a poster for the opening concert on the walls.

In the Auditorium Foyer, two of the most popular films of 1935 were shown – The 39 Steps and Top Hat.

At midday museum curator and pavilion expert Julian Porter gave behind the scenes tours.

You could sample 1930s-inspired cocktails such as The Mary Pickford and The Sidecar as well as Pavilion35, the new beer specially created by Franklin’s Brewery.

The 1930s menu included liver and bacon, fish pie and corned beef sandwiches.

Lunch was accompanied by the London String Quartet playing the popular music of the time.

On the rooftop foyer, families were treated to Geoff Felix’s Punch and Judy, as well as a display of tin plate toys from the museum.

Outside vintage cars courtesy Bexhill 100 made a Concourse d’Elegance and the Bexhill Classic Cycle Club bicycles were outside Gallery 2.

As on December 12, 1935, speeches were made at 3pm. Bexhill mayor Maurice Watson read out some of the original speeches.

But the real stars of the show were honorary patron Eddie Izzard and his father John who, as a boy, took part in the opening 80 years ago.

The doors opened to a magnificent Tea Dance by the Rag Roof Players and Michael Law’s Piccadilly Dance Orchestra at 5pm.

More than 200 people tripped the Light Fantastic to tunes from 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s.

More pictures can be seen here

Pavilion at 80 re-evokes the Golden Age

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