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The Inaugural Ball at Southampton's Civic Centre

Men in tails and ladies in tulle elegantly glide around the dance floor in this 1934 film about an inaugural ball at Southampton's new Guildhall

Amateur film 1937 3 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Wessex Film and Sound Archive


This remarkable film captures an evening of local glamour featuring Southampton's elite in tails and tulle. Men and women dance to music provided by Bert Osborne and his band. We see a waiter bearing drinks on a tray while two young women, with shingled hair, sit on the plush carpet for an elegant smoke. Guest of honour at this inaugural dance is Duff Cooper, a prominent member of Neville Chamberlain's cabinet. The film ends with several views of Bert Osborne's dance band.

The inaugural ball featured in this film celebrated the opening of the Guildhall - a venue which was part of Southampton's Civic Centre. Originally a town hall, the building contains a large pipe organ of around 4000 pipes, with both a classical concert organ and a theatre organ. Today the Guildhall, now renamed the O2 Guildhall Southampton, houses three multi-purpose venues for a variety of events.