Working Wednesdays: Barman at Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre, England

I admit my working Wednesdays series is months behind – I was writing so much stuff recently about travel that I neglected my usual regular features and lifestyle posts. My return to the town of Bournemouth after a 5 year absence recently made me think of my time there working as a barman in Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre. I was actually the main barman in there from October 2007 until March 2009!! A job that I basically used the money from to live on, while my other jobs (working on car ferries and selling ice cream) paid for my travel at the time.

jonny blair on pavilion bar bournemouth

Working Wednesdays: Barman in the Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth, Dorset, England.

One admission I have about this job is that, although I loved the customers and the job itself, I didn’t like the company I worked for or the management. I’ll rant about the horrendous Red Eventful Cuisine company another time, this post I aim to keep a bit happier – the job itself. I did live and breathe this place.

pavilion theatre bournemouth

The front of the Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth, England.

As a barman back then in the Pavilion Theatre, I would be responsible for opening the bar, stocking the bar, serving in the bar, cleaning the bar, counting the bar stock, closing the bar etc. My hours of work would depend on what events were on. Each night there would be performances in the theatre of some kind. 90% of these required for the bars to be open. But there were lots of things going on and lots of bars. During the day there were meetings and set ups as well as a normal coffee shop. By night there was everything from comedy shows to pantomimes to rock concerts to private parties.

back of pavilion theatre

Rear entrance at Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre.

I was the general bar assistant so basically I got to work in every different part of the building over the course of those 18 months. My usual spot was ballroom bar for day time events, circle bar for night time events and daytime porter and delivery dude to keep the bars all stocked up. I won’t lie or be arrogant to admit it – I knew exactly what stock was in every bar, what stock we sold and what didn’t sell and how each bar was run. I was never promoted, but I knew more than the managers did. It’s a fact. Every day they’d have to ask me something about the job they should have known inside out 😉

I was king of the theatre...well I knew how the bars were run...

I was king of the theatre…well I knew how the bars were run…

Without me there’d have been no beer kegs for big events, no ice cream for pantomimes and lots of unsatisfied customers. To test the waters, one time I had 3 days off and when I came back the place was in turmoil!! One of the managers even had to phone me to ask me stuff on my time off!! One of the managers even let the ice creams run out completely around a week before Christmas time. I had to go in and work extra hours to sort his mess out! Imagine running out of Lager during a Frank Skinner show… Rant over – it was years ago!

pavilion theatre bournemouth

The view over the gardens from Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre.

The different Bars/Kiosks in Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre

I’ll give an overview of the different parts of the theatre that were bar related so you get a feel for the place. The Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth is an excellent building. It’s also “listed” which means it can’t really be altered much (at all)by British law.

bournemouth pavilion theatre auditorium

The main auditorium in Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre.

1. Piacetto Coffee Shop (also called Costa Coffee previously)

This was a coffee shop only for the most part. It also sold drinks and snacks. It was the only part of the Theatre to sell proper coffee. I rarely worked in here but often unofficially managed what was going on within, checking they had the stock, the consumables (cups, receipts etc.). This place was open 9am – 5pm every day as well as for all the events. A lazy Australian guy called Gareth Kalejs used to work in here. It’s sadly also the place where I met petite and pretty Hungarian dancer (my story is here). Here’s me doing an impression of Gareth…

piacetto bournemouth pavilion

Relaxing on a rare 9-5 in the Piacetto Coffee Shop. One of the easiest jobs ever.

2. The Kiosk

This was a small room which was only open during performances and sold soft drinks, sweets, snacks and ice cream. This was a very easy job, but also a short shift, as once the interval was over, the kiosk till and stock got counted then it closed. I did this a few times and tried not to fall asleep…

jonny blair bournemouth pavilion

Falling asleep on the job in the kiosk in Bournemouth Pavilion * photo may be staged to reflect real life.

3. The Circle Bar

The Circle Bar was normally the busiest bar as it was at the top of the stairs when you walked into the main entrance to the Pavilion Theatre. For big shows and events on in the theatre, this place would get busy enough. You’d also take pre-orders for interval drinks and prepare them early. I enjoyed working in this bar and had a few mates who worked here too like Alan Walker and Nigel Halligan. It wasn’t even shaped like a circle.

circle bar bournemouth

The interior of the Circle Bar in the Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth. Not really a circle shape!

circle bar bournemouth

A quiet moment while working in the Circle Bar.

4. Phoebe Bar West

At the far end of the theatre, past all the entrances to the main auditorium was the Phoebe Bar in two parts. Again, I spent lots of time working in the Phoebe Bar West. This was one of only 3 bars to have beer on tap in the theatre. It was normally John Smiths, Fosters and Kronenberg. With Strongbow Cider also. I enjoyed this bar – it was more lively than the circle and had friendlier customers.

phoebe bar west bournemouth

The Phoebe Bar West, sometime in 2008…

phoebe bar west

My view in work from the phoebe bar west.

5. Phoebe Bar East

Opposite the Phoebe Bar West was another bar called the Phoebe Bar East. This was also licensed but no beer on tap. It was only open as an overflow bar when the main Phoebe Bar West got busy. I rarely worked in the Phoebe Bar East but I often stocked it up and counted the tills.

phoebe bar east pavilion

The view from the Phoebe Bar East.

6. Ballroom Bar West

The ballroom bar west was inside the ballroom on the right hand side as you faced the sea. It was open for almost every ballroom performance and I lost count of the amount of times I worked in it. I even did the twice weekly tea dances and mojive parties in here. The Ballroom Bar West was also used for company events and private functions.

ballroom west bar view

View from the bar at the Ballroom West.

The Ballroom was also used for some mega international dance events, comedy shows and minor plays! I got to see all these shows for free while I worked.

dancing show in bournemouth pavilion

A dancing show on in the ballroom in Bournemouth Pavilion.

ballroom bar west bournemouth

The ballroom bar west.

7. Ballroom Bar East

Any time a large group booked the ballroom for a mega party, both bars would be open, including the Ballroom Bar East. It was an exact symmetry to the ballroom bar west and I’d have to re-stock it every time as the management didn’t like a lot of stock being held here since it wasn’t often used. For big events, this was the bar to get served at quicker if you were a customer.

ballroom bar east bournemouth

A major dance event viewed from the Ballroom East bar.

8. Lucullus Room

The Lucullus Room was only opened for private functions. It was basically just a room with posh chairs and tables in it, and an area where you could plug in a fridge if need be and serve beer, wine and cold soft drinks. It was a very easy place to work in so I rarely worked here – they’d normally put the new staff in this place the rare times it was actually used. It also had an exit and entrance leading onto the main road leading down to the sea front.

lucullus room bournemouth

Lucullus Room entrance in Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre.

lucullus events

The Lucullus Room, Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre.

9. Outdoor Coffee and Ice Cream Kiosk

In summer months I sometimes manned this random outdoor kiosk, which was also near Best Break where I used to sell ice cream. In fact when I first moved to Bournemouth there was a bar here called the Oasis.

bournemouth pavilion theatre kiosk

The outdoor coffee and tea kiosk outside Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre – not used much in winter months.

10. Private Function Rooms

There were some other rooms that were often used for council functions and tea events so I’d have to turn up now and then and prepare tea, coffee and biscuits for these events. Easy stuff overall.

A tea and coffee meeting in one of the rooms.

A tea and coffee meeting in one of the rooms.

11. Backstage

I got to work backstage a lot too – preparing drinks for the crew and celebrities. I got into their private rooms to do this, I also managed to do this a few times at the BIC (Bournemouth International Centre), where I also worked.

backstage at the pavilion

I also worked backstage sometimes preparing the drinks for the performers.

I met people like Daniel O’Donnell (singer), Derek Acorah (psychic), Alison Moyet (singer), Chuckle Brothers (actors) etc. I also worked in the Bournemouth International Centre where I once saw Avirl Lavigne’s knickers.

derek acorah jonny blair

I met Derek Acorah and a few other celebrities.

Completely unrelated but while serving in the Circle bar I also met Steve Fletcher, an AFC Bournemouth footballer and a hero down Dean Court way.

steve fletcher in pavilion

Meeting Steve Fletcher in work.

So that was pretty much all the rooms that I worked in, there were of course a load of other places inside the Pavilion Theatre, here’s a few photos of them:

The keg rooms and cellar:

Keg room and cellar.

Keg room and cellar.

The main auditorium:

pavilion auditorium

The auditorium inside the Pavilion Theatre – this hosted most of the bigger events.

The stage:

The stage.

The stage.

The kitchen:

pavilion theatre kitchen

In the kitchen in Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre.

The upstairs toilets:

toilets staff

Staff toilets – the highest room in the building, from here you could climb out onto the roof.

The lobby:

bournemouth pavilion theatre lobby

The lobby in the Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth.

The yard:

yard at pavilion theatre

The yard – where deliveries would come in and where we’d chuck the rubbish.

The fire escape:

pavilion theatre fire escape bournemouth

The fire escape from the cellar.

Here are the different events we had going on:

– Tea dances in the ballroom

– Comedy shows in the ballroom

– Music shows in the main auditorium

– Pantomime shows in the main auditorium

– Plays in the main auditorium

– Antiques shows

– Private functions

– Special events

– Private parties

– Balls and dances

Staff I worked with directly (only those I remember are listed – apologies if I missed you out) – Alan Walker, Krystal Shard, NL, Shona Mallinson, Hannah Harvey, Angelo Perez, Oggy, Mark Lucas, Thomas Cahoon, Valerie Baker, John Ellis, Nick Guy, Aneta Baran, Hayley Hughes,  (a lot of these people also worked with me in the BIC – I’ll write about that too in a future Working Wednesday).

Managers I worked with – Iain Odhams, Dan Hancock, Emma Christopher, Andy Middleton, Andy Perkins, Sean, Hayley

Other Cool Staff in the theatre who did other things – Holly Tomkins, Marie Davey, Martin, Dave (the main boss), Joan.

Some of my videos from working in Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre:

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