West Park Pavilion
est Park Pavilion was for the best part of a century Jersey’s major entertainment venue.
It was built in 1886 to house Rowland's New York Circus, after which it became a skating rink .
In the early years of the 20th century the Triangle Park, between the Pavilion and the Grand Hotel was the venue for regular outdoor concerts, and if the weather was bad, they were moved indoors to the Pavilion, known at that time as the 'Tin Shack' or 'Tin Hut'.
The venue was rebuilt as a Ballroom in 1931, and interrupted only by the German Occupation this use continued until the 1960s, when it went into decline.
In 1971 the Pavilion was acquired by Hughie and Joyce Behan and the interior was refurbished to become a summer cabaret venue as Behan’s West Park, with live concerts in the winter.
In the early 1990s the venu was sold again, and run as a rave disco until 1999, when it finally closed down, to be demolished and replaced by luxury flats.
After the Second World War the ‘Pav’ was a glamorous venue frequented by the island’s elite and also by stars of stage and screen such as Gracie Fields and Alec Guiness. The house band was the Les Watson Band, fronted by Jersey singer, Stan Corfield. For seven years from 1947 he sang the hits of the day six nights a week.
He was quoted in a BBC Jersey web feature on the Pavilion:
- ”The place was so romantic. All the elite of the island went there and everybody was dressed in the most beautiful clothes.
- “The band leader always used to say to me: whether people are sitting out at the tables having drinks, or on the ballroom floor dancing, I want them to have a conversation.
- “The volume had to be kept right down low, and if he caught me singing too loud I would have been fired.
- “I enjoyed every minute of it. The thought of being paid for doing something I loved was marvellous.”
He described the music as evergreen, adding that the songs he sang all those years ago were still being played today.
He remembered a ball staged in honour of Countess Mountbatten.
- “St John’s Ambulance had built their new headquarters in Midvale Road and their patron was Countess Mountbatten. She was here to open the building and the States had a ball in her honour.
- "The place was wonderfully decorated with flowers. Half way through the evening the head waiter came up to the bandstand and said the Countess would like to talk to the vocalist.
- “I went to meet her and she thanked me for singing her favourite piece of music so beautifully.
- ”As you can imagine, I was quite chuffed. I felt like asking for a pay rise.”
By this time, Stan Corfield was at the height of his powers as a singer, and had become a household name in Jersey.
Stan had an opportunity to leave Jersey and join the Ted Heath Orchestra, but decided to remain in the island.
When the ‘Pav’ became Behans in the peak of the rock-and-roll years, it was managed by Chris Sparkes. It had an automated stage, which rose up from the dancefloor and a world class sound system. Behans attracted some of the era’s top acts, including Slade, Suzi Quattro, the Drifters, Led Zepplin and Leo Sayer. The venue would hold as many as 1,000 paying customers thrilled at the quality of entertainment on offer. Chris said:
- “Jersey was full to the gunnels with holidaymakers and seasonal workers with cash on the hip, looking for a good time. So it was the right place at the right time.
- "However, it was the Behans who made it what it was. They were so dynamic and astute.”
- “We played anyone who was anyone. The bottom line was every week there was always an absolutely superb line-up.
- "It was more a case of who didn’t play there rather than who did.
- “We were very, very lucky to be in a position to afford to bring top acts over.”
Inn on the Park
The Behans sold the venue, which was transformed into the Inn on the Park, a venue for the new phenomenon of rave dances. At first they were very popular, despite the delapidated state of the venue, and they were to switch from monthly to weekly.
This was probably a mistake, because the numbers attending dropped sharply, and the days of West Park Pavilion as an entertainment venue in its many guises were soon to end.
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