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Thread: The Showboat Maidenhead October 2018

  1. #1
    Join Date
    August 2014

    Default The Showboat Maidenhead October 2018

    The History

    Maidenhead's Showboat roadhouse was purpose-built as a fashionable motoring destination.

    As roads became more popular in the interwar period, it was seen appropriate that Maidenhead should be the location for a grand roadhouse with the rivers use being replaced by the London to Bath road. The Showboat, opened in April 1933, it was different to the existing “roadhouses” by being of a modern design, mixing aspects of modernist architecture and art deco styling, the whole place resembling the bridge of an ocean liner. Its architect, Eric Norman Bailey, had established his reputation in designing cinemas using similar themes.

    This was a highly ambitious development. Praise came from the local paper which promptly dubbed it '"The Palm Beach of Maidenhead " displaying the latest innovation in roadhouses.

    V. G. McMinnies described the Showboat as

    “A very modern building containing a fine sprung oak floored ballroom and restaurant decorated in two shades of green, chromium and black and a magnificent pool surrounded by built -up terraces and cubicles which effectively screen the bathers from the wind. The American bar has a club room, which resembles the deck of a ship, (and is) also ultra-modem in furnishing and decoration"

    The presence of nearby Edwardian buildings restricted the Showboat's size and facilities, it offered fewer outdoor sports than advertised by some other roadhouses. Its range of indoor facilities, however, was probably the widest in the country.

    The weekly news reels featured this strikingly new roadhouse, showing young couples and families enjoying the sun deck, sunbathers in their swimming costumes and variety acts performing in the ballroom.

    The owners of the Showboat recognized that the wealth and leisure time of residents of the Home Counties ensured steady patronage day and night throughout the year. By allowing women and children to use its facilities, the Showboat distanced itself from the gendered Edwardian atmosphere of the golf dub and created an updated version of Victorian domestic bliss.

    This you tube video shows the Showboat in its glory days

    In later years the Showboat became a place for service men to hang out, it then changed use completely and became a factory for the manufacture of Spitfire wings and then later still it has seen light industrial use up until 2016. Its amazing Art Deco frontage still remained in part although the extension to the right-hand side front has been done is such a way as to not look out of place.

    Since 2016 The Showboat has sat empty and unused except for the occasional squatter. It is now due to be knocked down to make way for housing, losing us yet another great art deco building.

    The Explore

    With the history The Showboat has and with its great external looks I was kinda hoping this would be something special inside.

    An external picture from 1934 shows The Showboat in its full Art Deco gloriousness.

    With its various alternations and extensions over the years, externally The Showboat now looks like this

    Still an awesome looking building, but sadly that’s where it stops..

    Inside has been pretty much gutted for its change of use.

    The original Crittall windows can still be seen on the later added mezzanine floor.

    In these pictures you can still see the pillars that decorated the corners of the original ballroom.

    Looking up at you can still see the original decorative ceiling hidden behind the modern suspended ceiling.

    Looking down from the mezzanine you can just make out what was left of the glorious sprung dancefloor of the original ballroom.

    On the lower level the curve walls and handrail give you a hint of what a grand place this once was

    The rest of the place is sadly modern and stripped out for factory use.

    Sadly not as internally epic as I had hoped but still a decent way to waste an hour.
    Last edited by mockney reject; 15th Oct 18 at 20:15.

  2. Thanks given by: 5t3tcv743, ajarb, etc100, Hugh Jorgan, jsp77, J_a_t_33, krela, Mearing, noiseboy72, Old Wilco, oldscrote, psykie, RedX_unleashed, risingdamp, rockfordstone, Rolfey, Rubex, smiler, The Wombat, thorfrun, Tigershark
  4. #2
    Join Date
    March 2018


    Nice looking place that. Liking the photos.

  5. Thanks given by: mockney reject
  6. #3
    Join Date
    June 2014


    Interesting never seen this before!
    What the hell am I doing, I mean really at my age!

  7. Thanks given by: mockney reject
  8. #4
    Join Date
    February 2015
    Aberdeen, Scotland


    A shame its going this way but I feel it still retains its originality, except for the flourescent lights. Looking at your pictures after looking at the British Pathe video still visualise the people dancing and sitting at tables. No swimming pool?
    When the going gets tough - the tough get going.

  9. Thanks given by: mockney reject
  10. #5
    Join Date
    August 2014


    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Jorgan View Post
    A shame its going this way but I feel it still retains its originality, except for the flourescent lights. Looking at your pictures after looking at the British Pathe video still visualise the people dancing and sitting at tables. No swimming pool?
    nope the pool looks to be long gone

  11. Thanks given by: Hugh Jorgan
  12. #6
    Join Date
    March 2013


    Nice sharp images there
    Interesting looking place
    Black cat exploring company
    & LSD - Leicester Super Derpers

  13. Thanks given by: mockney reject

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