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History Behind the New Pavilion

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23 July 2023

The New Pavilion had been at the heart of the Morley community since 1911. Now abandoned, the building whispers of couples falling in love, cheeky children tucking into ice cream, and clubbers’ rowdy dancing. 

Protesting against demolition, the local community successfully protected this cherished site. The project creatively transforms the building while it awaits a new future.

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1936 man who lived twice
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One of the earliest acts to grace the stage was Vulcana the Strongwoman and her partner Atlas. A feminist icon of her time, Vulcana championed exercise for women and lobbied against restrictive corsets. With just one hand, she could lift a man! 

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In 1938, 12-year-old Ernie Wise, later of comedy duo Morecambe and Wise, delighted Morley audiences with his tap dancing and jokes. Having accidentally lost a clog just before his performance Ernie took to the stage with odd shoes giving a performance that later one him first prize. 

Included in the artwork is an anecdote about the evening, where they describe usherettes selling chocolates from trays.   

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Fuelled by an interest in heritage and oral story-telling, I reached out to local people. A ripped cinema ticket, fish and chips after a cowboy film, a little child’s head peeping at Grandma’s bingo card – all are memories shared by the community. By depicting their own words and using local archives, I bring the building’s history back to life as local people and visitors walk past.


It was the 1950s and the New Pavilion was alive with performance and film. It was an era of smoking indoors and couples ‘courting’ in the back row. 

Morley residents shared their stories; Clive McManus reminisced how as a boy he would go to the Roy Rogers movies with his sister then be treated to a fish and chips on the way home. Another spoke about how he’d met his wife on a date at the New Pavilion - can you spot the love story woven into the illustrations? And others spoke of pretending to be cowboys and riding imaginary horses all the way home.

This was a joy to illustrate - adding tiny details from people’s stories and breathing life into the crowd scene! I wish I could own a pair of Roy Roger boots like that don’t we all!?

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Roy rogers riding trigger ca 1940s everett
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Trip to head office of Cooperative society by members of the Morley Co op
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Two little ducks, cup of tea, key of the door - anyone recognise these?

From 1968 the New Pavilion would have been alive with these bingo calls.

Based on old videos and archival photographs the illustrations depict an iconic time of perm hairdos and bingo players with a cigarette in one hand and felt-tip in the other.

Fun fact all the bingo cards are 100% accurate — if you look really carefully everyone on the table have the same numbers crossed off.

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Joan martin concentrates the edmonton journal edmonton alberta canada 11 august 1985
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Who would have guessed it but in the 1990s the New Pavilion was a techno club claimed to be on par with the Berlin scene! The After Dark nightclub, which hosted world-famous Orbit techno nights, attracted star DJs and clubbers from across the country. 

Did anyone go to these nights?

Each dancer is based on someone who was photographed by James Lange in 1994. Can you spot the people and match them to the characters in the crowd?

The abstract shapes and patterns were inspired by the iconic circular flyers.

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The building itself is included in the designs too: original stained-glass windows, ornate gates and the sculpted facade are reflected in the design’s large abstract shapes.

Hidden amongst the tallest windows is a mischievous theatre cat who used to wonder in and out of performances to warm herself on the stage lights. Oh and there’s a cheeky kiss hidden up there too!

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