THE TYNEMOUTH PLAZA
My sister, Pat Welford, wrote the following article for her church magazine, (St George's, Cullercoats'), about her memories of the Plaza and I thought members of Holy Saviour's would also like the opportunity to reminisce.
As I spent my childhood and young adulthood in Tynemouth. I have many vivid memories of the Plaza, both before and after the war. I am sure other people have different memories.
During the summer months of the late Twenties and Thirties, the Plaza was certainly the place to be. The huge crowds of day-trippers who came down every day made the whole area buzz with activity. It seems every day of the holidays was sunny.
The beach side of the building has a long row of shops at beach level, where you could buy just everything you wanted for a day at the seaside, buckets, spades, fishing nets, balls and even swimming costumes. There were sweet shops and ice cream shops and a place where they made sticks of fairy floss (candy. floss), and of course you could buy hot water for your teapot. Never for coffee. Immediately in front of all this and now under tons of sand was a roller skating rink and, around this area were swings and roundabouts. On the sea front level of the Plaza were more shops and the crowds moved from there to the park and back again.
Splashed right across the huge north-facing wall of the building were the words BALLROOM FANTASTIQUE. This was advertising the beautiful ballroom where many grand dances and events were held. On Wednesday afternoon (half day closing) and Saturday afternoons, there were always Tea Dances, and the dancers were regularly seen walking along the promenade, ladies in long dresses and clutching their dancing slipper bags. On a Saturday afternoon there was always a floor show, which we children called 'the Cabarets'. We were allowed onto the balcony overlooking the ballroom to watch the show at a cost of three pence (3d). When the war came, all that stopped, but the dances went on very regularly and were particularly popular with the various forces stationed around the area.
In the basement
of the Plaza was a roller-skating rink and an amusement area called 'Galaland'
During the war the open air rink at the back was also used for ballroom dancing on summer nights. This was to help to entertain most of us who had 'holidays at home'. The park tennis courts and Front Street were also used in this way.
There was a great crowd at 'The Ballroom Fantastique' to celebrate V E Day in May 1945.
At some time after the war, a Repertory Theatre was built in the basement. We had our own Resident Professional Repertory Company; they put on a different show each week and played to packed houses.