The Tin Tabernacle at St Annes

Before and after

This month and next month, we are going to look at buildings that have either been demolished or have had a change of use. The photos (from DDHS archives) are of the building that was once there and what the building/space looks like today.

The Tin Tabernacle at St Annes
The Tin Tabernacle at St Annes

The first photo above shows the Tin Tabernacle which was the hall of St Anne’s Church for many years. The building stood at the top of Parsonspool and has been replaced by the bungalow in the 2nd photo.

Bungalow where St Anne’s Hall used to be (James Herring).

You can read more about Tin Tabernacles, many of which were temporary churches prior to a permanent church being built, here. DDHS member Stephen Bunyan has written about St Anne’s and the hall, and he notes “The temporary building was purchased second hand in Falkirk. It cost £27 10/-.The cost of erection was £85 10/8. A subscription of £70was raised/. The hall was surveyed in 1930. It was reported that it would last a further ten years and possibly thirty if looked after. On that basis an extension was built, a porch, a W.C and Kitchen was added at a cost of £52 17/-“. The hall was used by local groups such as the scouts in the 1940s and 1950s and concerts were held there in the 1950s an 1960s. Stephen also notes that the hall was the venue of a nursery in the 1970s. Jim Herring has gathered some memories of the hall and these include pipe band practice from IM It was also there in the hall that we practiced marching for the first time, to start with we would march round the hall in circles in single file, then progress in rows marching up and down. It wasn’t that big a hall. We practised on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. TB remembers a table tennis competition in the early 1960s. He won the competition and went on to represent Dunbar in the East Lothian wide contest in Tranent. Many people remembered going to the nursery and some remembered The Tufty Club  which was formed to encourage road safety. Other memories were of highland and tap dancing, practice for the band Barney, whist drives and later discos.

Victoria Ballroom near the harbour

Where the Victoria Ballroom used to stand

The Victoria Ballroom was originally built as a gymnasium for the soldiers billeted in the nearby barracks. The gymnasium was built in 1913 for soldiers who were housed for certain periods. In WW2, the barracks was used by the Officer Cadet Training Unit (good photos and interviews) and the soldiers did some training and fitness sessions in the gymnasium. There were dances during the war and particularly after the war in what was still the gymnasium. In researching his book Dunbar in the 1950s, Jim Herring interviewed band leader Toe Gillan who often played there. In the interview, Toe Gillan said that, because the gymnasium had been built by and for the army, it probably had the finest dance floor in Scotland in the 1950s and beyond. The late Jean Brunton remembered going to dances when the OCTU soldiers were there and Toe Gillan’s band was playing. The gymnasium was converted into the Victoria Ballroom in the early 1960s after the County Council took control of the barracks. In the 1960s, quite a few DDHS members will remember going to the dances there, and seeing local group Nick and the Sinners and popular Fife group The Mark V who once appeared on the BBC’s Juke Box Jury – alas without success. Very famous groups appeared at the Victoria Ballroom, such as The Bachelors, The Yardbirds, The Tornadoes, plus The Searchers, who had afternoon tea at the St George Hotel, as well as dinner and overnight accommodation at The Roxburghe Hotel. In the 1980s, the ballroom  became a venue for professional wrestling which was popular on TV at that time. The building deteriorated and was demolished in 1989. You can see some of the adverts for the Victoria Ballroom here.

Trampolines at The Palace of Pleasure

Playpark at Lamer Street where the trampolines once were

The first photo above – a proof copy – shows children enjoying the trampolines at the amusements which were situated near the East Beach. The Palace of Pleasure or Johnny’s as it was known locally, was a hub for tourists and many remember going there, where people would play on slot machines, play bingo, visit the monkey house – recalled as being smelly – or take their children to the carousels and trampolines – see the enlarged photo. Johnny’s was particularly busy on wet days or when the haar rolled in for 3 days at a time. People could also buy snacks, drinks and ice cream at the REFRESHMENTS SHELTER seen in the photo. The heyday of Johnny’s was in the 1960s when Dunbar’s population doubled (at least) with the influx of tourists. The busiest times were in July in the first fortnight – Edinburgh Trades Holidays – and second fortnight – Glasgow Fair holidays.