St.George's Hall/Ballroom

St.George's Hall built in 1874 became the best Ballroom of the Midlands

St.George Hall Ballroom
Artist's impression of St.George's ballroom shortly after its opening in 1935

1874 St.George's Hall was built by William Trivett who was the landlord of The George Inn. The Hall was built on a site adjoining the hotel at the rear, it was built with enough space to hold 500 people. It was put to many uses such as meetings, theatrical performances, 'animated pictures' etc. Until the purpose-built police court was built in Stockwell Head in 1878, the Petty Sessions (Magistrates' Court) were also held here.

During the 1890s Hall began to show films, and in 1910 became Hinckley's first full-time cinema.

4th July 1910 The grand opening of The Electric Picture Palace (St George's Hall), at the rear of the George Hotel. Several days later in The Hinckley Times there appeared a notice 'In consequence of the plant not being powerful enough, the proprietors have decided on a new installation of plant, and will re-open at the earliest possible date.' This was an electric generator as there was no electric power supply in the town at this time. The Hall was used as a cinema only until 1911.

1926 The old St.George's Hall was converted into a Palm Lounge.

14th May 1935 The foundation stone for the new ballroom was laid. The architect was E.H.Crump who was the surveyor to the Hinckley Urban District Council, the contractors were Ottey and Clegg of Leicester.

This important extension to the George Hotel, which was a calling house for the stage coaches between London and the North had been the subject of many favourable comments, both from the Hinckley UDC and the Justices who approved the plans. The Justices expressing the opinion that it would add considerably to the social amenities of the Hinckley district. With the Hall at 57ft by 97ft it was one of the finest in Leicestershire, when completed the new ballroom would be second to none in the Midlands.

28th November 1935 The St.Georges Ballroom was opened by Sir William Edge MP, crowds flocked to the opening dances. The hall had been erected over the yard of the George Hotel, so as to provide an excellent and capacious covered area which would be used later as a car park. The whole building having been built with ultra-modern lines with a floor that is without a superior in Leicestershire.

The first floor in addition to the ballroom itself was a kitchen, a Gentleman's bar as well as cloakrooms. On the second floor there was an excellent balcony with a view of the whole ballroom, there was another bar and a Ladies cloakroom. The ballroom itself accommodated 900 people with a dancing space of 99ft by 57ft, the floor was of the best maple procurable. A modernist bandstand occupies a position at the head of the hall.

St.George Hall Ballroom
Dickie Valentine at The George in 1952. Sadly he was to loose his life in a car crash in Wales in 1971

In keeping with the progressive spirit of the town, the building presented an imposing exterior, while the interior possesses all that the modern requirements demand. It was a place of distinction which provided a much-needed addition to the social amenities of the town. The main entrance to the ballroom was in the private road at the rear of the hotel that lead from Station Road to Regent Street. Sir William Edge asserted at the opening that there was no more beautiful hall in the country than the one Mr Hartopp who was the proprietor of the George Hotel had placed in Hinckley.

20th January 1939 Miss Madeline Stokes of Coventry Road, was chosen at a dance at St.George's Ballroom, as Miss Hinckley No.1. A reporter called her a 'brownette', he could not make up his mind whether Madeline was a blonde or a brunette. Madeline was described as tall, with a nice smile and looks and it was said she would make a nice Carnival Queen. Madeline worked at Atkins Bros., in Lower Bond Street.

20th June 1944 Ivy Benson and her all Girls Band who were very famous during and after the war, played at a dance at St.George's Ballroom. A photograph that was taken at the time showed Briqet Barrios as one of the instrumentalists with Ivy Benson. In a letter from General Montgomery, he expressed the hope that soon Briqet would be back with her family in France.

5th January 1945 To tie in with the showing of the Rita Hayworth film 'Cover Girl' at the Hinckley Odeon cinema, a competition was held at St.George's Ballroom to find a local 'Cover Girl'. The winner was Dorothy Goddard who was an attractive young lady, with dark brown hair and a rosebud complexion. Dorothy was chosen by the judges, Arthur Kimbrell, Martin Taylor who was the Manager of the Odeon and two vocalists of the famous Oscar Rabin Orchestra which was appearing at the venue.

Dances were held at St.George's Ballroom, which had a very good dance floor. The Ballroom was considered to be one of the best in the Midlands during the 1950s.

31st March 1950 A great attraction at St.George's Ballroom was the appearance of Ralph Sharon and his Sextet, they are still a great attraction today.

ritzy nightclub in 1987
Lofty from Eastenders at Ritzy nightclub on 08-May-1987

13th March 1953 Julie Andrews and Norman Wisdom appeared live at St.George's Ballroom. They were both appearing in 'Jack and the Beanstalk' at the Coventry Hippodrome.

1960s The Ballroom was used for plays, band concerts, bingo, etc. before the old theatre front was demolished to make way for part of the new Edwards Centre.

13th November 1968 The Hinckley Concordia opened their most ambitious production with 'My Fair Lady', it cost £2,000 to produce, which was said to be worth every penny. The show was presented in St. George's Ballroom, the husband and wife David and Nanette Goodman played Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle.

The rear portion of the building that was built in 1935 and which the foundation stone remains to the left of the doorway, became a bingo and social club, later a nightclub called Tiffanys in the 1970s and then in the early 1980s changed to Bubbles nightclub.

6th June 1986 There was a big fire at Bubbles nightclub, which was St. George's Ballroom, in The Horsefair. The blaze caused £50,000 of damage. Firefighters from Hinckley, Nuneaton and Leicester were called to fight the blaze. The Bounty (that used to be The George Hotel), was also affected. Smoke poured in through a fire exit that was shared by The Bounty and Bubbles nightclub.

May 1989 The Hitman Roadshow came to what was now the Ritzy nightclub. Seven Stock, Aitken and Waterman acts came along to perform to a packed crowd. The acts included Sinitta, The Reynolds Girls, Girls Talk, The Shooting Party, Johnny Otis and Big Fun.

2012 After many years of St.Georges Ballroom being used as a nightclub, it was finally closed with Elements nightclub being the latest nightclub to close.

2014 The St.Georges Ballroom was purchased by George Denny who is the proprietor of The Bounty. There are plans to remove all the modern nightclub fixtures and fittings and to bring St.Georges Ballroom back to its once former glory days of being a Ballroom.

St.George Hall Ballroom St.George Hall Ballroom
Pete Watermans Hitman Roadshow at the Ritzy nightclub in May 1989
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