Monday, 21 December 2009

Liverpool Dance Hall resource

Is there a source where I might find information of liverpool dance halls in the 40's during the war... bands that might have played there and movie theaters... I'm trying to write a romance novel and can't seem to find any info on what lovers did in the 40's during the war.

Thanks Britt


  1. Hello Britt,

    A number of theatres became dance halls during the war years. Some that come to mind our the Rialto in Upper Parliament St and Orrel ParK Hall not forgetting the famous Grafton Rooms and The Liverpool Olympia still going today. The Liverpool Olympia was first opened in 1905 as the Locarno Ballroom. Architect Frank Matcham modelled it on the Kirov Ballet in Moscow and the grade II* listed building is an important part of Liverpool’s heritage. The Grafton Ballrooms opened later in 1924 as a purpose-built dance hall. The venue has hosted some prestigious acts such as The Beatles, but is better known for its infamous ‘grab a granny’ Thursday nights, which started in the 1970s. There was also the very popular New Brighton Tower Ball Room known locally as the Tower.

    The Mersey Maritime Museum held an exhibition in 2006 of Liverpool Dance Hall posters. You could also try the link : about Liverpool`s Theatres. There is also Harold Ackroyd`s book , The Liverpool stage (Erdington, 1996). Detailed listing and description of Liverpool’s theatres since the 1750s, well illustrated with photographs, posters and other archive material. Also the LHS library catalogue may be of some help

    The best resource would be a Kelly's Directory for Liverpool covering the war years period as most dance halls would be listed.


    Rob Ainsworth
    Liverpool History Society
    Web Site:

  2. Is the Liverpool History Society correct in saying that the Olympia originally opened as the Locarno Ballroom. I have always understood it was opened as a theatre and also used as a circus. I could be wrong of course.

  3. Agreed' the comments made in Dec & May are correct. I don't remember the Olympia when it was a circus but I know it was a cinema---in fact the first 'Talkie' Al Jolson in the "singing fool"
    was shown there in the 1930's.

    It only became the Locarno in the war years

  4. I know it was at one time a circus as my father, borne about 1890 told me he'd been there. I think it had multi-uses.It is correct to say that it only became a dance hall in the 2nd World War years. (Considered at the time to be socially inferior to the Grafton, which was very respctable in those days).

    Denys Owen