Letter: Felixstowe Spa is a seaside theatre with an eventful story

The Spa Pavilion in Felixstowe has a full line-up of shows for the next year

The Spa in Felixstowe holds a special place in Don Black's heart - Credit: SPA PAVILION

There cannot be a seaside theatre in the country that matches the eventful story of Felixstowe Spa Pavilion.

Its new owners’ intention to improve and expand facilities there is worthy of planning consent. 

The first theatre was built on the site in 1908; “Certainly a more attractive building than the present utilitarian structure,” wrote Suffolk historian Allan Jobson in 1968.

“The earlier building may well have been cosier in the winter months than the wind-swept auditorium today.”

Harsh words indeed, but his opinion was outweighed by our enjoyment of performances by such stage veterans as Sandy Powell, Tommy Trinder and Joyce Grenfell and gifted amateurs like Dennis Lowe. 

Nazi broadcaster William Joyce, “Lord Haw Haw” as we knew him, gave the 1938-built Spa wartime false importance exactly 80 years ago.

Felixstowe police inspector Claude Rush recorded in 1941 that, “on October 25th, 9.32pm, four HE (high explosive) bombs, one at least 500kg, dropped near coast below Hamilton Gardens. One scored direct hit on Spa Pavilion, badly damaging it. Next day German news in English announced that a large warehouse near Harwich had been bombed.”

Fortunately, no one was killed or hurt in that particular incident. 

About 70 years ago, after the Spa had been rebuilt, it was the venue for my wife and I to see each other for the first time in daytime; we had met at an old-time dance the previous evening. A few weeks ago, wrapped up for the cold August weather, we visited Felixstowe to find that it had lost none of its old magic.

Don Black