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Situated at the NW end of Rothesay’s famous Victorian Esplanade and commanding an unsurpassed view of Rothesay Bay and eastward to the Cowal Peninsula and Clyde coast, Rothesay Pavilion makes a striking contribution to Rothesay’s townscape, particularly from the ferries.
Its origin goes back to 1935 after the local Council had bought the Argyle Street site and
announced a competition for the design of a new pavilion. The successful architect, J.A. Carrick (J. & J.A. Carrick of Ayr), produced the winning submission out of 24 entries. One of the judges was Thomas Tait, a leading exponent and leader of the new modern style in Scotland and Britain, and designer of the Glasgow Empire Exhibition Tower. The Pavilion’s competition drawings survive in the National Monuments Record Of Scotland.
The design features a large main hall (clear span of 35m x 35m) with recessed dance floor and proscenium stage, a drum-shaped café, balconies (including cantilevered sun terrace), ancillary rooms, foyers, offices, and backstage accommodation.
Its value as an exceptional heritage resource was underscored in 2005 by its up-grading to a Category A Listed Bulding by Historic Scotland.
Many have commented over the years on the Pavilion's architectural qualities:
“...a unique Clydeside version of the
‘machine’ age aesthetic” (Simpson and Brown Architects)
“…uncompromisingly Moderne and stylish, the continuously glazed, bow-fronted cantilever of the first floor buffet, matched by a curving slab cantilevered over the open roof terrace, captures something of the boldness of Mendelsohn and Chermayeff’s only-just-completed Bexhill Pavilion”. “…International Style Modernism at its best with little if anything of its period to equal it in Scotland.”
Frank A Walker, ‘Buildings of Scotland’
“...Rothesay [Pavilion] is one of the few public buildings, and certainly one of the few remaining, which adopted the international style; and it was also one, if not the first, to be a fully fledged International Style Building, albeit one with a Scottish character.”
Simpson & Brown Architects
Carrick designed a pavilion that offered “…the Glasgow holidaymaker an experience at the forefront of style in Scotland”.
C. McKean, The Scottish Thirties (1987) p86
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