Lowther Gardens cover an area of 5.65 hectares and were provided by Squire J Talbot Clifton in 1872 in honour of his wife, Eleanor Cecily Clifton (of the Lowther family in Cumbria) and in memory of her father, who died in 1868. They were designed and laid out under the supervision of Mr Tomlinson who worked on the Clifton Estate, for the benefit of the inhabitants and visitors to Lytham, on what was previously poor grazing land known as Hungry Moor.
They were given to the authority in 1905 and shortly after in 1921 the Pavilion was built and named after Eleanor’s family name as a continuation of the gift of the gardens.
It is rumoured that the roof originally stood on stilts and was designed to be used as shelter against bad weather as stated in the 9th July 1920 Lytham Times.
“Coun. Holden stated that the work on the Pavilion in Lowther Gardens was sufficiently advanced to be used in the event of inclement weather”.
Lytham Amateur Operatic society held it’s first musical there in 1928 “Highwayman Love” which brought about huge success which continued to grow.
There were also orchestral evenings which gained popularity as the visitors to the gardens has something else to come and see.
Another extract from the Lytham Times in September 1921 states that:
“the first sports and whist drive was held on Wednesday at the Lowther Pavilion. This proved to be a huge sucess – The whist was enjoyed and later in the evening refreshments were served and dancing was maintained until 2am. A program of delightful music being discoursed by Mr J.Walsh’s Bijou Orchestra”
It seemed as if the pavilion was really being shaped for it’s future as a community venue, one with high numbers of attendance and potential.
Throughout the years leading up to the 1950’s the Pavilion underwent a slight modification to it’s building design by the addition of a cafe on the side of the building. This was really a step forward in the attraction of further public attention.
Everything wasn’t so good for the pavilion however, as in 1976 the Lytham Express stated that:
“Fylde Councillors called on Thursday for an emergency meeting to discuss the uncertain future of Lytham’s Lowther Pavilion”
It had emerged that only after a car had collided with part of the building exposing the steel work that the stanchions that held up the roof were discovered to be rotting beyond repair and acro-jacks had to be placed inside to stop the roof and walls collapsing.
Lots of meetings were held as the future remained a mystery and by some twist of fate during a production of “Charlie Girl” at the Ashton Pavilion in St Annes a fire broke out completely destroyed the theatre and the operatic society were forced to move to the Pavilion which saved it from demolition.
It was clear money had to be spent on updating the facility so in 1982 that’s exactly what happened.
Only the roof and floor remain as original features from construction and new dressing rooms and a stage extension were built with a large extension to the front of the building providing a new box office and toilets.
To date the Lowther stands as the 1982 alteration inside and out and also stands as testament to the community spirit that surrounds it.
Written by Dan Creasey