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West Pier Picture Post 14

Concert Hall Band Programme, Friday and Saturday 13th/14th September 1935

By 1935 the Concert Hall had been a feature of the West Pier for almost two decades. In the early years, the hall was home to the pier’s own orchestra specialising ‘mainly in high-class music’. Fashions and economics changed, and particularly during the summer months military bands featured in the 1920s and 30s. 

This programme detailed the musical offerings of the orchestra and band of H. M. Royal Artillery (Portsmouth). Performances were three times daily, at 11.15am, 3.15pm and 8pm. Each of the six performances featured a totally different programme: no tunes were repeated.

The musical fayre was popular and light. Some pieces transported the audience to other lands and times including ‘Waltzes from Vienna’, ‘Moorish Rhapsody’, ‘Blue Danube’ and ‘Ballet Egyptien’ (sic). It was equally appropriate to emphasise patriotism, with the Friday evening, for example, featuring a cornet solo of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. Perhaps heralding a boozy lunchtime, the Saturday morning show finished with a ‘Selection of Drinking Songs’. 

Apart from detailing the music, the programme advertised local and national business and also advised visitors to the Concert Hall that ‘Before leaving the Pier [they should] Consult Madame Stellar, the Celebrated Palmist and Advice Specialist.’ The red seal wrapped around the booklet was a security feature. The programme could only be opened once the seal was broken; someone buying a programme with a broken seal would know it had already been used.

Madame Stellar would not have foreseen the history of the building housing the Boots Café advertised on the seal. The café was in the large store at 156-162 Western Road, purpose-built for Boots in 1927-28. The building survives and still displays on the first and second floors the imposing Classical-Revival architectural style. Writing in the late 1920s, Harold Clunn (1879-1956) thought Western Road was fast developing into a fashionable shopping parade with department stores: he later described it as ‘Oxford Street-by-the-Sea’. Boots left the premises in the late 1970s and the building currently houses McDonald’s and the empty Argos store.
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Brighton West Pier Trust · West Pier · 103 - 105 Kings Road Arches · Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2FN · United Kingdom 
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Brighton West Pier Trust · West Pier · King's Road · Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2FL · United Kingdom

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