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The Carlton Theatre, Corner of Saltley Road and Nechells Place, Birmingham

Later - The Birmingham Coliseum / Coliseum Theatre

Birmingham Index

The Carlton Theatre, Birmingham - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 1899

Above - The Carlton Theatre, Birmingham - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 1899

The Carlton Theatre was situated on the corner of Saltley Road and Nechells Place, Birmingham and was designed by Thomas Guest who also designed the Alexandra Theatre, Hull.

The Theatre was built at a cost of £14,000 and opened on the 16th of July 1900 with a Variety performance including Chas. W. Poole's Grand Myriorama; the Boer War and Pekin and the Boxers, The Pooleograph, The Three Clifton Brothers, Mephisto, Reed and Lerne, The Moxon Family, Woodee Wonders, Tibbot's Living Marionettes, The Archilles, The Three Almos, Patter and Pate, and Bowker Andrews.

A Plan of the Carlton Theatre, Birmingham - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 1899.The Theatre's auditorium was constructed on three levels, Stalls and Pit, Dress Circle, and Gallery, and also had six boxes.

The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 1899 reported on the Theatre during its construction saying:- 'This building is being erected on an imposing site at the corner of Saltley-road and Nechells-place, at the penny steam tram terminus, Saltley - one of the suburbs, although within the city boundary. It will be conducted upon popular lines, and the prices charged will be those equal to such theatres.

Right - A Plan of the Carlton Theatre, Birmingham - From The Building News and Engineering Journal of December 1899.

The building itself will accommodate upwards of 2,000 - in the pit, which is 58ft. 6in. by 57ft., 700, the gallery 700, circle 400, stalls 100. The stage is 57ft. by 35ft., and is 22ft. to the fly-floor, and 41ft. to the grid floor. The proscenium opening is 27ft. wide and 28ft. high.

There are six dressing-rooms on the same level as the stage. Internally the theatre will be decorated in model plastic work, picked out in cream and gold. Complete electric-light installation will be put down, supplemented by a complete gas service. The front line of the site is one long sweep; in consequence of this the chief front has been treated independently of the main building, and is placed immediately at the corner.

On the left facing Saltley-road are the pit and gallery entrances, and on the right are the gallery and circle emergency exits. Next Nechells-place the site has allowed of four shops being erected.

The circle level in the front provides handsome staircase, foyer, manager's office, and refreshment room, with lavatories, &c., and access is provided from this level to the roofs of the shops, dressing-rooms, and pit refreshment-room, which are covered in with concrete flat, and will be converted into a winter garden illuminated with electric light.

The elevations are being carried out in Kingswinford facing bricks and buff terracotta from Hathern Station, and the work is being rapidly proceeded with by Mr. T. Johnson, of Great Brook-street, under the direction of the architect, Mr. Thos. Guest, Cobden Buildings, Corporation-street, Birmingham. The entire cost of the building, including furniture, is upwards of £14,000.'

The above text in quotes was first published in The Building News and Engineering Journal, December 1899.

TThe Carlton Theatre, Birmingham - From an illustration in the Playgoer of 1901 / 1902 - Courtesy Iain Wotherspoon.he ERA also reported on the Theatre shortly before it opened in their 9th of June 1900 edition saying:- 'Birmingham now has another suburban theatre, the Carlton, erected on a site at the corner of Nechells-place and Saltley-road, and intended to meet the requirements of Saltley and the people living on the Washwood Heath side of that locality. It will appeal to a population of considerably over 50,000.

Right - The Carlton Theatre, Birmingham - From an illustration in the Playgoer of 1901 / 1902 - Courtesy Iain Wotherspoon.

The house, which has been erected by Mr Arthur Carlton, a gentleman interested in five or six other theatres in various parts of the country, has an imposing appearance. The central portion is treated in a free Renaissance style, and is built in Kingswinford red facing bricks, relieved with buff terra-cotta. Over the dress-circle entrance there is a fine large window, which forms the main feature of the elevation. Around this sweeps a massive moulded arch, and radiating from it are keystones extending to the turrets on either side and the main cornice above. In the centre the building is surmounted by a massive gable in terra-cotta bearing the name of the theatre - "The Carlton Theatre" - in red terra-cotta. On either side there are octagonal turrets in buff terra-cotta, with ogee-shaped lead roofs, each of which bears a flag-staff. In the angle of the turrets appear four handsomely-moulded figures symbolical of music, art, literature, and the drama.

The pit is about sixty feet square, and provides seating accommodation for between 600 and 700 persons. Four gangways will add materially to the convenience of the audience, and not more than ten or a dozen persons are accommodated on each bench. In front of the pit is provided the best part of the house - the orchestral stalls - which gives accommodation for about 100 persons. The exits are good and well arranged, there being no fewer than six doors, all of which are fitted with panic bolts. The stage has an area of 60ft. by 38ft.

The dress-circle accommodates 350, and two distinct staircases are provided for purposes of exit. The gallery gives seating accommodation for over 700. There are six private boxes, two of them being on the pit level. Fire is provided against by numerous hydrants and corridor pumps, and the use of the granite fire-proof plaster in the walls and ceilings. The theatre will be lighted by electricity, but gas will also be laid on.

The interior of the theatre will be artistically decorated in Renaissance style. The draperies will be crimson in colour, and the seating in the circle and stalls will be upholstered in plush. The inclusive cost is over £14,000. Mr T. Guest, the architect, is to be congratulated on having produced an ornamental, and at the same time thoroughly practical, building. It is intended to open the theatre about the middle of next month.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 9th of June 1900.

The Theatre had a change of name in November 1910 to the Coliseum Theatre, the ERA reported on this in their 26th of November 1910 edition saying:- 'The Carlton Theatre, Birmingham, will, on and after Monday next, be known as the Coliseum, and important changes will be made in the conduct of the house. There will be two performances nightly at people's popular prices instead of the one performance nightly as heretofore. Mr. James Alexander, the lessee and manager of the theatre, will present well-acted dramas worked quickly, Mr. Frank Bateman's company in Where Angels Fear to Tread occupying the boards for the opening week. The change is necessitating a considerable outlay in the way of new scenery and appointments.' - The ERA, 26th of November 1910.

Eleven years later in 1921 the building was converted for Cinema use but it was destroyed by a bomb during the war in 1941 which killed 19 people. The Theatre then remained closed and derelict until it was finally demolished in 1945. A Fabric Warehouse was later built on the site.

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