Ellen Loudon

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the pivvy

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This is the music hall I am researching as part of my PhD. In fact it is the reason I am doing my PhD. So, here is a bit of background.

The Pavilion (know locally as the ‘Pivvy’) on Lodge Lane was opened in 1908. Established in Liverpool 8 as a music hall with twice-nightly shows and a 2.30pm matinee, the Pavilion was a popular venue, able to seat over 2,500 people. The Pavilion was built in an area that had seen vast and swift economic, social and structural change. As the opening quotation illustrates Lodge Lane had, over a 40 year period gone from farm land with a ropery, waterworks, a few houses accommodating a small population and a small number of shops to what amounted to an extension of the city. By 1883 the area was a mass of terraced houses with all the amenities that a growing population demanded . The Lodge Lane Baths had been opened in August 1878, followed by the washhouse later that year . The establishment of the library around the same time was an additional benefit to the area. By 1885 the tramway was extended to the intersection of Upper Parliament Street and Smithdown Road allowing fast, regular transport to and from town (previously it had been possible to get the last bus back to Smithdown Road from town leaving from Pier Head at 10pm – but the trams ran late) .

The Pavilion was evidently a capital investment. When William Henry Broadhead applied for a theatrical licence on 11 April 1907, the Pavilion had not been built. As 14 JP’s votes for the granting of the licence and 13 voted against Broadhead was encourage to go ahead with building and the JP’s would keep an open mind as to whether the licence would be granted or not. Percy Baynham Broadhead was granted a Theatrical licence for the Pavillion Theatre, Lodge Lane on 11 Feb 1908. The Broadhead’s would not have gone ahead with such risky and elaborate plans if there had not been a business rationale for building a theatre on Lodge Lane. Broadhead was not new to the music hall business; he owned a chain of music halls in the North West. He considered himself as a ‘paternal’ manager, an image that is illustrated by the reported purchasing of homes in the area to provide accommodation for his staff. The Pavilion is 1½ miles from the city centre, a suburban development not unusual for Liverpool . However, this is a late development in a city with a lot of existing thriving music halls.

The Pavilion was intended to appeal to a varied audience (different classes, male and female, young and old ), a fact implied by the implementation of two nightly performances. Each of which would have appealed to quite different audiences.Thomas Skelmerdine, a Liverpool surveyor and theatre architect gave evidence to the 1892 parliamentary committee on music halls; he pointed out that the ‘twice nightly’ system appealed to different clientele, the later show appealing to a ‘rather different grade from the 7pm – 9pm; they were men who have not to be up at four or five in the morning’ .

The Pavilion boasted eight private boxes, stalls, pit, circle and balcony; the competitive prices ranged from stalls 1/-, circle 6d, pit 4d and balcony 3d. In other words the Pavilion clearly catered for a broad range of social class, at least broad enough to charge four times the cheapest price for some seats and sell them. The Gores directory for 1908 lists an extensive range of business and residents on Lodge Lane. Which suggests that the Lodge Lane area was not simply a ‘working-class’ area.

The Pavilion exists today as a bingo hall, despite a devastating fire in 1986 that destroyed much of the Edwardian interior and all of the backstage area.
It had remained a live performance venue until the summer of 1961; in latter years it had become known for its variety performances, glamour girls and elaborate costumes. The venue had remained in the hands of the Broadhead family for 25 years and then in 1933 ownership transferred to the British Theatres Corporation (a Merseyside company who also controlled the Royal Court Theatre). In 1951 a Manchester based company, Brennan’s Cinemas ltd took it on as a going concern. It wasn’t until 1960 that the venue shifted emphasis from variety to ‘glamour’ when a London Company, Success Plays Ltd leased the property. Mecca Ltd bought the Pavilion in Oct 1961 and the venue has served up bingo ever since. In 1992 Gary Armstrong who owns similar bingo halls on Merseyside, bought the site and the venue is now as the Pavilion Bingo club.


Written by ellenloudon

June 21, 2007 at 1:37 pm

Posted in Liverpool, PhD

4 Responses

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  1. EllenDid you say you have some music-hall footage?What is it? Is it available?RegardsPeter Davis

    Peter Davis

    July 24, 2007 at 4:05 pm

  2. Hi peter, no footage of the pivvi I ma afraid. Just footage of some music hall acts(none of whom appeared on the Pavilion stage). I have uploaded some onto youtube (see other posts on this theme). I am hoping to try to add more soon. Do you have a particular interest?

    Ellen Loudon

    July 24, 2007 at 4:36 pm

  3. Hi could i get details of the singers or compares that was on the pivvi in 60s upwards my father did both of the above and it would be nice to get some memoriabilia for him hes in a care home at present his name john kelly or was sometimes called paul any info would be brillthank youmargi


    February 20, 2008 at 6:52 pm

  4. margiI am sorry bit these dates are a bit our of my range. Are you in Liverpool – if so then central library has a lot of info an they may be able to help you. Sorry I can be of more help.

    Ellen Loudon

    February 20, 2008 at 11:10 pm

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