People turned out in their dozens yesterday to welcome the return of an old favourite to the Dorset seaside landscape. After an extensive 5 year restoration the former Royal Asturias Empire Pavilion (aka in the 1950s the "Municipal Entertainment Centre") opened as The Hornimint International Business, Commerce, Conference, Media and Entertainment Center (or more colloquially "The People's Palace").
Situated on the promenade near the centre of Bridport, the famous landmark has been in a near derelict state since the local council ran it into the ground in the 1960s. Once the pride of the town, if not the county, the Royal Asturias Empire Pavilion attracted huge crowds - especially in the summer - when artists of the calibre of Sid Sodd and even Ziggy Osmington regularly graced its famous stage.
The reopened "Palace of the People" is now a popular rendezvous for old and young alike. [TOP] Before and after the renovations - the Hornimint sponsored restaurant can be seen extreme right;
[BOTTOM LEFT] in its Edwardian heyday the so-called "Royal Asturias Empire Pavilion" was popular with young and old alike; [BOTTOM RIGHT] by the 1950s the council run "Municipal Entertainment Centre" was a shadow of its former self and a source of embarrassment to young and old alike. When money for lightbulbs finally ran out in the mid 1960s (the council voted to open a pop-up citizens advice bureau instead) the facility closed for what would be nearly 60 years.
Yesterday's ceremonies which featured a massed children's choir as well as local Fernando Mediantepieza tribute band Wilf Throbes and His Thé Dansant Rhythm Men, was opened by local author, celebrity and chat-show host Shelley Lulette-Sizemore. Speaking after the event Ms Sizemore - former horizontal jogging partner of "the late" Professor Brian Thrupiece (whose still unexplained disappearance from a hotel room in Geneva in 2005 remains the subject of ongoing inquiries by L'Authorités Suisses) - expressed joy at the reopening: "I would like to express my joy at the re-opening" she told the assembled press.
Plans for the newly opened venue (the refurbishment of which was made possibly by generous donations from both the Hornimint Company and the Threadbone Corporation) remain vague, though rumours of a Christmas-time concert by The Studland Bay City Rollers have already led to jammed switchboards at the newly renovated state-of-the-art HIBCCME media centre. Head of communications, Meg Afone, confirmed today that staff had been pushed to the limit: "They've been pulling plugs in and out all day and they are completely and utterly fooked" she said.
In 1959, the "Municipal Entertainment Centre" qualified for an entry in the Hornimint Book of Records when its interior fish and chips concession served 58 tons of chips, 14,300 portions of mushy peas and 25,600 medium-sized battered cod fillets in a 8 hour period. "It wasn't planned", a local historian notes, "they were just open for business when 340 motor-bike riders from the Lulworth Cove Chapter of the Hellsbelles turned up and placed a substantial order".
Heyday of the Municipal Entertainment Centre". Musicologist and Classical Music Historian Ant Iffonal believes that the photograph accidentally records the presence of Russian composer Dmitri Probonovich (insert) then on a UK tour with his Yakulele All-Stars Ensemble.