Created By: Cheltenham Local History Society
In November 1878 the Winter Garden and Skating Rink opened, designed by J. T. Darby – Cheltenham’s own Crystal Palace. Flanked by gardens, tennis courts and a bowling green, the Winter Gardens extended from the back of the present Town Hall almost to the Broad Walk.
The immense iron roof, which rose to a height of 100ft, was constructed by the Central Iron Works at Lansdown. The building housed one of the earliest roller-skating rinks in the country, measuring 15,000 sq. ft. Other attractions included recitals, circuses, flower shows, exhibitions and from 1912 the Cinema de Luxe 'the most luxurious picture palace in the west of England'.
Nearby residents could often hear concerts as clearly as those who had bought tickets and when it rained, concert goers complained they couldn't hear the music for the noise of rain on the glass roof.
Part of the building was used in WWI to construct DH6 and Bristol Fighter aeroplane fuselages.
Suffering financial struggles from the outset, and needing constant repair, the building was demolished in the early 1940s.
However, the chequered brickwork base of one of the towers can still be seen, beside the Imperial Garden Bar. The site still plays an important part in Cheltenham's entertainment, hosting the town's many festivals throughout the year.
Continue southwards to exit the gardens onto The Broadwalk which runs along the top of the square to the left of the Queens Hotel.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Public Gardens of Cheltenham