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'Grand old lady' of Torquay harbourside celebrates her 100th birthday

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 23, 2012

  • heyday: The stage and seating area inside the Pavilion TORBAY LIBRARY SERVICES

  • campaign: Mrs James and Mrs Sheila Hardaway collecting names for the petition to save Torquay Pavilion from demolition in October, 1971

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ONE of Torquay's 'ladies' is celebrating her 100th anniversary today.

Completed in 1912, the new concert hall, cafe, smoking lounge, roof garden and promenading facility opened on the harbourside as The Pavilion.

Designed by the borough architect and engineer Mr H Garrett, the Pavilion was acclaimed as a high class meeting place and concert hall for use by residents and visitors alike who called it Torquay's Palace of Pleasure.

During the 1930s the iconic building was converted into a traditional theatre with its stage area backing on to what is now the Torquay Marina car park.

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Later in the 1930s a cinema was added and then an extension to enhance the theatre facilities.

Having survived World War Two, its use changed several times including at one stage an ice and roller rink and more recently shops and a restaurant.

During the early 1970s a forward-thinking Torbay Council decided it was the perfect site for a new conference centre for the town and multi-storey car park. A fight was mounted to preserve the building, led by Mrs Sheila Hardaway who created the Friends of the Pavilion group, which later forced the council to reverse its decision.

As chairman of the Friends, Mrs Hardaway was the first president of Torbay Civic Society which on Friday is planning the special celebrations.

An open coffee morning is being held at 10.30am in association with Torbay Council with an exhibition of pictures and presentations explaining the building's pictures.

The chairman of Torbay Council, Cllr Roger Stringer will officiate at the last event before the Pavilion is redeveloped as the public rooms of a four star hotel planned by the Nicolas James Hotel Group, which is currently finalising its designs.

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