Villa Marina, Isle of Man

Villa Marina, Royal Hall and Gardens
Postmarked 1947
Publisher: Punch Bowl Press

Google Street View (approximate).

The Villa Marina is an entertainment venue in Douglas, Isle of Man, which forms part of the wider Villa-Gaiety complex. It is located on Harris Promenade, looking out onto Douglas Bay, and comprises the Royal Hall, Broadway Cinema, Promenade Suite, Dragon’s Castle and the Colonnade Gardens. . . . After unsuccessfully advertising the lease for continued use as a hotel, Henry Noble purchased the shares held by John Firth and set about turning the Villa Marina into his personal residence; although there was a degree of consensus at the time that the estate should have been bought and turned into a pleasure ground with a proposal put forward to raise £10,000 in £1 shares for the purchase. . . . The entire site was bequeathed in Noble’s will to the Henry Bloom Noble Trust. The site was used as the venue for several summer garden fetes and parties and provided a particularly good vantage point for the running of the Gordon Bennett Trials, first held on the Isle of Man in 1904. On several occasions the Villa Marina’s grounds played host to open air religious services, one such instance being the annual session of the District Synod of the Primitive Methodist Church (Liverpool District) which was held in Douglas in the Spring of 1906. Following Noble’s death there was a degree of uncertainty as to what would become of the estate, with a fear that it could be sold to property developers as this was the height of the Isle of Man’s tourism boom. However, the trust donated the entire site to Douglas Corporation which then redeveloped the site as an entertainment venue. Upon completion the venue was opened by the Lieutenant Governor, Lord Raglan, on 19 July 1913.

The original name of the venue was the Villa Marina Kursaal. In part this was seen as an attempt by the Corporation to address the town’s perceived lack of sophistication and to raise the town’s profile to visitors. The Germanic term for the venue was dropped at the outbreak of World War I and the venue was renamed the Royal Hall.

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