Holder's Grand Concert Rooms, 88, 89, 90, Coleshill Street, Birmingham.
Later - The Gaiety Theatre of Varieties / The Gaiety Picture House
Above - Holder's Grand Concert Rooms, Birmingham, later the Gaiety Theatre
It was known as Holders Hotel and Concert Hall on its opening but would later become Holder's Grand Concert Hall eventually accommodating some 2,500 people. It had many changes of proprietors during its time including Soward and Gardner who took over in 1863, John Soward junior in 1867, John Judd and Company in 1871, who changed the name to The Birmingham Concert Hall, and Phillips and Chowles who took over in 1876.
Right - A programme for Holder's Grand Concert Hall
during the management of T. Gardner & Co between 1863
and 1867. On the Bill were
Miss Crosley, Mr. Arthur Lloyd,
Lawrence & Manning, Mrs. Mears, and Miss Smythson - Courtesy Ian
Gibb whose G G Grandmother was Mary Ann Mears, who appeared on the Bill
of this programme - Click to see
In 1886 Charles Barnard became the proprietor, and changed the name, to the Gaiety Concert Hall.
Left - A Music Hall Entrance Token for Holder's Grand Concert Hall, Birmingham - Courtesy Michael Manwill who says 'On one side is a picture of the hall then on the other it says "To be spent in the concert hall the same evening as received." It cost 3d. This was in a box of my grandad's so it is amazing to think it could of been his parents who visited.'
Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed at Holder's Grand Concert Rooms on several occasions and also in its later incarnation as the Gaiety. You may like to read this Interview with Arthur whilst he was at the Gaiety in 1890.
In 1897 the building was reconstructed by S. A. Davidson and A. R. Dean of Birmingham at a cost of £30,000, to the designs of the architects Crouch and Butler, and William Hope. The ERA reported on the reconstruction in their 25th of September 1897 edition saying: 'The New Gaiety Palace, Birmingham, is arising Phoenix like out of the ruins of the old building, which has been partially demolished to make room for a new and more sumptuous edifice. Some £30,000 is being spent on the new building, and every effort is being made to make it one of the finest concert halls in the kingdom.
Right - A Music Hall Entrance Token for Holder's Grand Concert Hall, Birmingham - Courtesy Michael Manwill who says 'On one side is a picture of the hall then on the other it says "To be spent in the concert hall the same evening as received." It cost 3d. This was in a box of my grandad's so it is amazing to think it could of been his parents who visited.'
The holding capacity of the old hall was about 2,500; it is estimated that the new building will accommodate between 3,000 and 4,000. The better parts of the house will be approached by a magnificent marble staircase, the entrance to the pit and gallery being relegated to a side street. The decorating and upholstery will be on a lavish scale, and Mr. A. R. Dean, the well-known furnisher, is doing his best to make the hall his "show house." It is anticipated that the hall will be ready for opening early in November. The fine lounge and promenade on the first floor will include no fewer than 300 tip-up seats, with a promenade at the back. -The ERA, 25th September 1897.
There is more on the Gaiety Theatre of Varieties, as it would become known, below.
Above - A Token for Holder's Concert Hall, Birmingham which reads:- 'To Be Spent In The Concert Hall The Same Evening As Received' - Kindly Donated by Dylwyn Colbourne who found it in a field in Alrewas, Staffs whilst metal detecting.
Above - Both sides of an entrance token for Holder's Concert Hall, Birmingham with H. Holder's name on the front - Courtesy Lynn Stratton.
Above - Both sides of an entrance token for the Rodney Inn Concert Hall, Birmingham - Courtesy Lynn Stratton who says: 'If anyone knows what the Florets on the Token signify please let us know.'
Above - The front and back of eight Music Hall Tokens from Holder's Grand Concert Hall, Birmingham - Kindly sent in by Lynn Stratton.
Above - The Gaiety Theatre of Varieties, Birmingham - From the opening night programme, printed on silk, for the 8th of November 1897 - Courtesy Lynn Stratton - (See cast details below).
The Theatre reopened as the Gaiety Theatre of Varieties on Monday the 8th of November 1897. Seat prices on its opening were one shilling for tip-up chairs in the Dress Circle and 1s 6d for tip-up chairs in the Stalls, and altogether it was stated that the Theatre could accommodate some 3,000 to 4,000 people. The Gaiety Theatre opened with a variety show including artistes such as Katie Lawrence, the Brothers Edgar, Ford and Hanson, the Brothers Lang, Verno and Voyce, Reuben Hill, the Almontes, George Leyton, Massaco, Bessie Munroe, and Louis Gaslier.
The ERA reported on the opening week of the new Gaiety Theatre, Birmingham in their 13th of November 1897 edition saying: 'The opening week at the New Gaiety Theatre has been an unqualified success. The building was described by The Era last week. The assembly at the opening ceremony on Monday was a brilliant one, and the house was filled in every part. The band played the National Anthem, the audience rising, and then Mr Weldon Watts, the managing director, came forward and made a neat little speech. He said: - I sincerely trust you are pleased with the changes which we have made. It is the mere beginning of a new departure - a departure which I have made in other cities throughout the country with great success. We have provided you with a first-class theatre, and we intend to give you a first-class entertainment at reasonable prices. We give you tip-up chairs in the dress-circle for a shilling; tip-up seats in the stalls, which are second to none in the country, at 1s. 6d. We intend to give you, as we have given you a fine theatre, an entertainment in keeping with the theatre. I have to ask you to bear with us for any omissions which you may notice to-night, and you must not judge from what you see to-night of what we intend to do in the future. As you are aware, we were very much handicapped in getting the building ready for the opening, and we had to cut down to a very great extent the bill which we had intended to give you.
Right - The opening night programme for the Gaiety Theatre of Varieties, Birmingham, printed on silk, for the 8th of November 1897 - Courtesy Lynn Stratton.
I have to thank you for your kindness in coming here, and I hope you will join me in giving thanks to the various people who have been identified with the building of this place. First and foremost are the architects, Messrs Crouch and Butler; also Mr William Hope, the eminent architect of the north; also Mr S. A. Davidson, the contractor of the north; and Messrs A. R. Dean, of Birmingham, whom you ought to be highly proud of. Messrs Dean have done all the plastic and decorative work, and have also supplied the handsome furniture which you see. I must also mention Messrs Verity, who have furnished the electric light installation, and other people who have identified themselves in various departments.
The programme to-night is not perhaps as good as we could have wished; but in the course of a month or two we intend to provide you with the best talent that can be got in the market. As a matter of fact there was little reason for Mr Weldon Watts's apology for the programme. It included that talented artiste Miss Katie Lawrence, whose turn was enthusiastically applauded. The patter of the Brothers Edgar was extremely clever; Messrs Ford and Hanson made a great hit with their musical funniosities, and the Brothers Lang contributed a smart knockabout turn. The programme also included that popular pair Vern and Voyce, Reuben Hill, the Almontes, George Layton; Massaco, Bessie Munroe, and Louis Gaslier. - The ERA, 13th of November 1897.
The Theatre had always been a popular music hall producing productions which were held in high esteem by the Birmingham populous. The Theatre had its own organ, played by one Mr. Sola and it is said that the Theatre's patrons were expected to be properly dressed and sporting top hats before they would be admitted.
The Gaiety finally closed in 1920 whilst under the management of Ben Kennedy. It was then turned over to Cinema use, known as the Gaiety Picture House, and ran as such until it closed on the 29th of November 1969 with a final showing of the film 'The Killing of Sister George.' The Theatre was then demolished and the site was grassed over by the University.
Some of the text on this page and the Concert Hall image was gleaned from the excellent book ' Birmingham Theatres Concert & Music Halls' by Victor J. Price. And some later Cinema information was gleaned from the excellent website Cinema Treasures.
If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share, please Contact me.
Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.
Above - A variety programme for the 7th of July 1902 at the Gaiety Theatre, Birmingham - Courtesy Lynn Stratton. On the Bill were The Continental Troup of Lady Wrestlers with Madame Appolina, and also Florrie St. Roy, The Freans, Amy Elcock, Fred Hallam, Sidney Jones, Lava, the Three Woodbee Wonders, Groves Duo, T. C. Callaghan, and Herr Fritz.
Above - Details from a variety programme for the 14th of June, probably 1909, at the Gaiety Theatre, Birmingham - Courtesy Lynn Stratton. On the Bill were John Clempert, The Eeduns, Cribb & Cribb, Onda & Artell, Willie Stopit, The Davenports, Madoline Rees, The Saletos, Horace & Olgar, and the Gaietoscope.
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