Webpage created: October 15, 2020
Webpage updated: October 15, 2020
The Millbay Rinkeries was officially opened on Thursday November 11th 1909 in the premises in West Hoe Road previously occupied by the Millbay Soap, Alkali and Soda Company Ltd. The building was converted for this use by Messrs Rinkeries Ltd, who owned other such skating rinks in various parts of the country.
There were two rinks, one for the learners and a larger one for the expert and fancy skaters, between them accommodating a thousand people.
On top of a firm foundation of concrete had been laid an inch and a half of the best flooring wood, then a sheet of felt, and finally a very costly floor of maple wood, covering 36,000 square feet. Eight large outward-opening doors have been provided for exit in the event of an emergency.
A staff of eight gentlemen and two ladies had been engaged to give instruction and 1,000 pairs of Richardson's skates had been purchased, although participants could purchase their own and leave them at the Rinkeries free of charge.
There were to be three sessions a day: 11am to 1pm, 2.30 to 5.30pm, and 7 to 10pm, and a band of professional musicians had been engaged to provide music throughout the day from a position over the spectators' stand. Refreshments were provided 'by a well-known firm in Plymouth'. The rinks were decorated with a large number of palms.
The resident manager was Mr J Brock. On the Monday previous to the opening day, he had invited the residents of the Three Towns to visit and inspect the Rinkeries, which they did in very large numbers. So great was the crowd on the Wednesday evening that the doors were thrown open early.
During the opening week an exhibition of fancy skating was given by the Gandys, a troupe of juveniles who had recently been entertaining audiences at the Olympia in London. It was planned to hold carnivals, confetti fêtes and Sunday concerts by military bands.
On Wednesday August 7th 1912 Mr Brock organised one of his popular fancy and evening dress carnivals. The programme ran from 7 until 11pm and included musical chairs on skates, waltz and two-step dancing competitions, a tug-of-war by two teams of six people on live donkeys, an amusing boxing match between "Little Tich" and "Long Tom", and at 9pm there was a battle of confetti. Mr Brock even provided fancy dress free of charge for those who applied by the previous Monday evening.
In the early 1930s the owner was given as Messrs Smith Brothers but by 1939 the Millbay Rinkeries was owned by Mr Brock, the ex-manager.
Millbay Rinkeries was destroyed in the bombing of the Second World War.