Tower Gardens Pavilion has played an important role in the history of Skegness and the growth of the town as a seaside resort in the late 19th century. In the early 1870’s, Skegness was just a small coastal village, but formed part of the 9th Earl of Scarbrough’s plan to transform it into an ‘aspiring watering – place.’ By the late 1870’s plans had been drawn up which included a Pleasure Garden to cater for the Victorian day tripper, who demanded the simple pleasures of strolling, listening to a band or playing a gentle game of tennis or bowls.
The original proposed layout was designed by the Earl’s land agent Henry Tippet. The identified site was a coal yard, previously used for dumping Tyneside cargoes after they landed on the Skegness sands. The proposed Gardens were seen as “an Eden springing from the dark places of the earth”.
In 1877, the Skegness Pleasure Gardens Company Limited was formed with the Earl of Scarbrough as patron and principal shareholder. The design was laid out between 1878 and 1881. An early guide to Skegness notes of the Gardens:
“A more pleasant place cannot be imagined for a lounge when the band is performing, and the grounds are clothed with their summer garb of green. Great care and good taste have been shown in the planning of these grounds, and a more pleasing effect is created by the artistic arrangement of arbours and seats, grassy slopes and winding pathways, and the trees, flowers and lake.”
The Pavilion opened in 1879, and provided Skegness’ largest accommodation for party catering, dances and concerts, and other special occasions in those early years. In an 1883 publication ‘The Skegness and Neighbourhood – a Handbook for Visitors,’ E A Jackson wrote:
“On the north side of the ground is the Pavilion, where every evening throughout the season hundreds thread the mazy dance. Adjoining is the concert room where entertainments are held at intervals. In connection with the Pavilion is a well-appointed refreshment department, conducted on temperance principles, and the arrangements permit of accommodation being provided for large parties”.
During the early part of the 20th century the Pavilion was a venue for choir outings, Sunday School treats, whist drives, bazaars, public meetings, as well as local wedding receptions. Since the Second World War, the Pavilion has been used for a variety of purposes, including an auctioneers sale room, a flag factory, a diner and latterly, as a public house. This is illustrated in the chronology of owner / occupiers and uses below:
For over 100 years Tower Gardens and the Pavilion have provided recreational and entertainment facilities for the local community and visitors to Skegness. The Gardens continue to host several events throughout the year and are also the central point for most of the events during Skegness Carnival week in August of each year. The bandstand is a key focal point in the Gardens and draws large crowds who take advantage of the free entertainment each weekend from May until the end of September. At present, the Pavilion remains unoccupied and requires a decision on its future.
Source: Modified version Options Appraisal Report 2009 – Focus Consultants (UK) Limited
Consultants (UK) Limited