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Thursday, 14 July 2016

A First Meeting at the Winter Gardens - Sepia Saturday

Each week, Sepia Saturday, provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.
A Picture Palace Cinema features as this week's prompt photograph and I was immediately reminded  of the frontage of the Winter Gardens at Blackpool - the place where my parents first met. 
The Winter Gardens in the  north west seaside resort of Blackpool in Lancashire 

The Winter Gardens  was a major entertainment complex, with theatre, ballroom,  bars etc.  The Empress Ballroom was built in 1896 and with  a floor area of 12,500 square feet (1,160 sq. metres),was one of the largest in the world.  It was regularly the venue for major political party annual conferences.  

 The view from the famous Blackpool Tower, looking down  down onto the side entrance of  the Winter Gardens  - the white building with the arched roof. 

My mother (Kathleen Danson) was born in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, a few miles from Blackpool.   At the age of 14, she was apprenticed to be a tailoress and was still making her own clothes in her 80's.  In the 1930's, Mum  and her sister, Edith,  often went dancing in the Winter Gardens Ballroom and in Blackpool Tower Ballroom. 

Mum (Kathleen)  - modelling one of her dresses
                              Mum (left) & Aunt Edith       

Dad (John Weston) was new to  Blackpool, moving there in 1936 with his work as a commercial traveller.  Here is his story as told in his "Early Memories"

Dad on the left with his brother Charles. c.1930's
"One Saturday night I went to  the Winter Gardens when I saw a young lady sitting on a settee. She got up and we said "Hello". I tried to find her again in the evening without success, even going to the exit door to watch people leave."  
Dad's account continued:  
"Two weeks later I was at the Tower Ballroom and who should come along but two ladies - and you have guessed that was your Mum and Aunt. Mum stopped to say "Hello" and we started talking and had a good chat. I asked if she would come to the cinema the next night and offered to come for her and take her home. She agreed. I thought it was rather brave of her to come with me when we had only just met to talk together.   The date was 13th October 1936 and we married 18th April 1938." 

My parents John Weston and Kathleen (Kay) Danson on their wedding day

Dad, Mum, Edith and Charles

Mum and Dad celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in 1998,
 opening the telegram from the Queen.

Blackpool Tower from the North Pier

Copyright © 2016 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Click HERE to see entertainment hot spots from other Sepia Saturday bloggers.  


  1. What a wonderful post about your parents and the ballroom, not to mention the romantic angle!

  2. A lovely story with photos to match. I checked online and see that the Winter Gardens still exist and have been preserved in all their splendour.

  3. A nice romance for sure! Like Jo, I checked out the modern Winter Gardens and it's huge! The grand ballroom has a capacity of 5000 and the concert hall seats 3000. Your parents were very lucky indeed to find each other in a crowd like that!

  4. I've always loved this story about how your parents met. We have a wintergarden shopping centre in Brisbane where there used to be a wintergarden theatre - sigh.

  5. Such a lovely story. Your Mum looks so beautiful in her lovely dress, elegant, tall and slim. It must have been lovely to go for dances at the Winter Gardens. Real dancing, waltz, tango foxtrot etc.

  6. A lovely story. And I swear before I die I need to see Blackpool. I'm fascinated to see what is special about the place because so many people seem to love it.


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