Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Blackpool (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SD 30538 33490


SD33SW 44/3/10040

SOUTH SHORE PROMENADE (East side) The Casino Blackpool Pleasure Beach 23-NOV-01

II Pleasure beach and former casino building. 1937-40 to the designs of Joseph Emberton for Leonard Thompson; restored and altered 1972, 1977-9 by Keith Ingham. Reinforced concrete in the International Modern style. Circular plan, the circle broken by three principal projections marking the main entrance and foyer, the main exit and the main public stairs. The key to the plan were the central kitchens on the ground and first floors, serving (on the former) a number of restaurants and (on the latter) a banqueting room. Kitchens now on first floor only. The result is a sequence of intriguingly curved rooms; originally there was no public access to this inner core area or directly across the building, but this has now been provided. The basement contained stores, a billiard room and sports facilities, now in mixed use. Between ground and first floor is a mezzanine office range, with private flat over (see below). Top floor built as roof garden, provided with a glazed curtain wall in c.1940 by Emberton and largely infilled as an extra floor in 1972.

Exterior, now three floors and basement, but still dominated by the vertical accent of the thin spiral tower which, with a lower rectangular plan tower (with 1970s external lift) flanks the main entrance - it is similar to, but antedates, that built for the 1940 Olympic Stadium in Helsinki; long curved window bands extend either side of the entrance, left as far as the projecting exit block, right as far as the glazed semi-circular-plan spiral cantilever stair. Fenestration to the remainder made up of individual window openings of varying sizes, some with metal casements. Various recessions at second-floor level add variety and a tall chimney, like that of a ship, adds a nautical air.

Interior: main bar and restaurant parts designed to be flexible and have been considerably altered, though much is in appropriate 1930s' style, and reflect the form of the building with its wheel-like ceiling beams and occasional columns. Main semi-circular staircase with glazed metal balustrading and semi-circular stair. Offices retain panelling and built-in cabinets, with doors of similar grained verneer and some big vertical door handles. Above, the private manager's flat is unaltered, reached up narrow curving stair lined with ply panelling, and with stepped balustrade of similar curved timber. Figured burr maple verneer doors and matching linings to narrow hall. Main living room with built-in burr maple bookshelves, seating and drinks cabinet matching dado panelling; bedrooms with fitted wardrobes, cupboards and drawers matching dado panelling; bathroom with vitrolite cupboards and fixtures; kitchen a later addition.

Joseph Emberton was the first British-born architect to design convincingly in the Modern Movement style, and the only one included in Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson's ground-breaking New York exhibition of 1932, `The International Style'. Emberton came to the Modern Movement through shop and exhibition design, and this is the last of just three major works by him to survive, the others - Simpson's of Piccadilly, City of Westminster, and the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham-on-Crouch, (Maldon) Essex, are grade II*. This is more altered externally, but its basic elements survive remarkably well, with its thrusting stairtowers and sweep of glazing, and the best of the interiors are intact. This is a building designed to be changed according to entertainment needs, and designed to be flexible; yet its principle parts after sixty years show a resilience and style that defy changes in fashion. It is the north's answer to the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill (grade I).

Included for both architectural and historic interest, particularly for its fine surviving manager's flat.

Sources Architects' Journal, 10 January 1935, pp.55-7 Architect and Building News, 28 July 1939, pp.97-105 Rosemary Ind, Joseph Emberton, Scolar Press, 1980 Blackpool Pleasure Beach, A Hundred Years of Fun, 1999 Colin Stansfield, Blackpool, Thirties Society, unpublished, 1986

Listing NGR: SD3053833490


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Blackpool Pleasure Beach: A Hundred Years of Fun, (1999)
Ind, R, Joseph Emberton, (1980)
'Architect and Building News' in 28 July, (1939), 97-105
'Architects' Journal' in 10 January, (1935), 55-7


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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