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Leisure Centre And Ballroom, Esplanade, Aberdeen

A Category B Listed Building in Aberdeen, Aberdeen

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Latitude: 57.1552 / 57°9'18"N

Longitude: -2.0798 / 2°4'47"W

OS Eastings: 395271

OS Northings: 807152

OS Grid: NJ952071

Mapcode National: GBR SG1.D4

Mapcode Global: WH9QR.0FX2

Plus Code: 9C9V5W4C+33

Entry Name: Leisure Centre And Ballroom, Esplanade, Aberdeen

Listing Name: The Esplanade, Beach Ballroom

Listing Date: 12 January 1967

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 354996

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB20314

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen

Town: Aberdeen

Electoral Ward: George St/Harbour

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

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Thomas Roberts and Hume, Bathgate, 1926; Star Ballroom probably by George Keith City Architect, 1961-3; renovated 1970s. Unusual Art Deco large, single storey and raised basement, octagonal ballroom with set-back pantiled (vernacular) pyramidal roof crowned by arcaded lantern, and 3 projecting flat-roofed single storey wings with main entrance to S, bowed bay at SE and Northern Lights Suite below later Star Ballroom at E. Prominently sited on Esplanade overlooking Aberdeen Bay. Brick and stone construction with buff faience cladding; harled with raised margins to lesser elevations. Deep contrasting granite base course, mutuled eaves cornice and stepped blocking course raised into block pediment over Ionic columned doorpieces; stylised Ionic capitalled dividing pilasters and architraved keystoned windows.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: symmetrical 9-bay S (entrance) wing with 'THE BEACH' on pediment over centre doorpiece and steps up to deep-set 2-leaf multi-paned door with decorative fanlight. 5-bay SE wing angled to right with 3 large wide-centre tripartite windows to bowed centre bays flanked by single set-back windows. 8-bay E (Northern Lights) wing with slightly set-back pedimented doorpiece to right and distinctive stepped roofline of later full-width glass and timber Star Ballroom above.

INTERIOR: good decorative scheme in place retaining much original detail including plain cornicing, original 2-leaf swing doors both glazed and panelled, panelled dadoes, cast iron radiators and cast iron coat racks and hooks in cloakrooms. Variety of distinctive Art Deco style dog-leg staircases. Ballroom has sprung timber floor (altered) and domed ceiling (now enclosed) with ribs springing from giant order paired fluted Ionic pilasters supporting mutuled entablature; ground floor promenade below gallery with decorative plasterwork frieze giving way to plain railing punctuated by bellflower and paterae detail. Stage to NW and crush hall entrance to S.

Multi-pane glazing patterns throughout. Many original metal-framed tophopper opening windows remain to sides and rear, principal elevations have replacement timber-framed windows. Red pantiles. Cast iron downpipes with decorative rainwater hoppers.

Statement of Interest

The Beach Ballroom is an unusual design and a rare survival. It was built as part of the 'Beach Improvement Scheme', at a cost of £50,000, to the winning design in a competition held by Aberdeen Town Council. The official opening on 3 May 1929 took the form of a masked ball and carnival with costumes ranging from Louis XIV's Court to Sioux Indians and shepherdesses. During World War II the building was commandeered by the Military, and re-opened at 23 December 1946. The ballroom floor, which floats on 1400 steel springs, was originally made of maple and was re-layed after the war. Opened in June 1963, the Star Ballroom, with its distinctive roof form and use of timber and glass, was almost certainly designed by City Architect George M Keith. Square columns in the Northern Lights Suite were moved toward the outer wall in order to provide support for the new ballroom. During the 1970s a £150,000 renovation was undertaken; the work took two years to complete and included lowering the ballroom ceiling. A fire in 1993 caused damage to the stage which was originally semicircular, but was altered to its current rectangular form possibly during the 1970s. The dance floor shape has also changed from a central octagon it now extends to the stage.

When it first opened, the building was managed jointly by the town council and John Henry Isles from 1 June 1929 for three years, after which is reverted solely to the town council.

List description updated as part of the Theatres Thematic Study 2010.

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