Formerly - Pullan's Music Hall
Pullan's Theatre was situated in Brunswick Place, off Westgate, Bradford (now Rawson Street), and originally opened as Pullan's Music Hall on Monday the 25th of October 1869. The Theatre's auditorium consisted of a Pit and Gallery, and could accommodate around 3,000 people. Constructed mostly of wood, but with a slate roof, the Theatre's flammable construction would prove to be its undoing some years later.
The Theatre was built for Henry Pullan who had previously built and run the nearby Coliseum in Westgate in 1849, often also refered to as Pullan's Music Hall. Henry Pullan would later go on to run the Star Music Hall and Prince's Theatre in Bradford in 1887. There is more about Henry Pullan's career below. A description of his new Pullan's Music Hall, and an advertisement for it, carried in the Bradford Observer in October 1869 is transcribed below:-
Pullan's Music Hall opened on the 25th of October 1869 with a Music Hall Bill including a variety of artistes. The ERA reported on the opening in their 31st of October 1869 edition saying:- 'This magnificent establishment was opened with great eclat on Monday, when more than three thousand people paid for admission. The National Anthem having been sung by the company, the first night's programme introduced a staff of artistes equal in every respect to the occasion; including the Chantrill Family, embracing the wondrous little Carl and clever little Dipplo, gymnasts; Katherina and Oscar Glinka, Circassian violinists; Athya, velocipedist and bicycle evolutionist; Mr and Mrs Coleman and Will Brown, the favourite Negro duettists; Mr and Miss Templeton, duologists; Lizzy Pearce, serio-comic vocalist; Miss Kate Thompson, soprano; Mr C. Clements, comic; and Mr W. H. Bishop, tenor vocalist. The band, numbering eleven performers, is under the direction of Mr Julius Akroyd.' - The ERA 31st of October 1869.
The Music Hall would later be renamed Pullan's Theatre but sadly the building was destroyed by fire on the 29th of June 1889 whilst under the ownership of George Taylor, who had bought it after Henry Pullan left to run the nearby Star Music Hall and Prince's Theatre in Bradford in 1887. Taylor had plans to rebuild the walls of the Theatre in brick and separate the auditorium from the stage as he couldn't obtain a new licence for it in its present form, but before he was able to achieve this the Theatre was burnt down. The Theatre had been unused for two months before the fire, so luckily no one was hurt, although the building itself was completely destroyed.
The ERA reported on the fire in their 6th of July 1889 edition saying:- 'On Saturday afternoon last the Brunswick-place Theatre, Bradford, late Pullan's Theatre, was burned to the ground. The house, which belongs to Mr George Taylor, of Bradford, has been without a licence for a long time, and was empty when the fire took place. The fire was first seen shortly before half-past five, at which time it had already obtained a considerable hold upon the interior of the building, having apparently originated somewhere near the stage.
The alarm was given at the Town Hall at half-past five. The firebell was rung, and some twenty-five or twenty-six firemen were upon the spot in about four minutes, and immediately got to work. The fire had obtained a complete hold in every part of the building, which, with the exception that the roof was slated, was constructed entirely of wood. The heat was intense, and as it was useless to attempt to enter the theatre and impossible to save it the efforts of the firemen were directed to preventing the fire from spreading, of which there was great danger, the surrounding land being covered with stabling and buildings, many of them of wood.
Immediately upon arriving the first body of firemen got two jets of water playing upon the flames, and when the tender and steamer arrived the latter was got to work, and delivered four powerful jets upon the fire. A large volume of water was poured upon the building, but it was burned to the ground in about twenty minutes, the roof and wooden walls crumbling into the interior, where the embers continued to burn and smoulder during a considerable portion of the night.
By Sunday morning nothing of the building remained except the site, covered with charred wood and an occasional iron pillar retaining an upright or semi-upright position. The fire attracted from 15,000 to 20,000 people into the adjoining thoroughfares. Some of the fragments of burning wood thrown into the air were carried a considerable distance, and the intense heat blistered and burned the paint on the doors and window frames of the houses facing the theatre, and cracked the window panes. The miscellaneous buildings behind and near the side of the theatre were imperiled, and a considerable number of them caught fire. The roof of the hayloft of a two-storey brick building behind the theatre was ignited, and over a ton of hay was burned or spoiled. The outbreak was subdued, however, before it assumed serious dimensions. A glass roof belonging to a coachhouse in the same yard was shattered by the heat.
The total amount of the damage is estimated at considerably over £3,000. The theatre was insured for a total of £2,000 in four different companies, but a Mr Kidd, of Keighley, holds a mortgage upon the building which will absorb about £1,500 of that amount.
The structure was erected about twenty years ago by Mr Henry Pullan, the present lessee of the Prince's Theatre and Star Music Hall, and accommodated 4,000 persons. It consisted of a pit and a gallery, in addition to the stage and its appurtenances. It was used by Mr Pullan for variety entertainments and dramatic performances.
About two and a half years since, having taken over his new house, Mr Pullan sold the building in separate lots to be pulled down. The building was partially pulled down, but the separate lots found their way into the bands of persons who rebuilt the theatre. On this occasion it was thoroughly renovated, and stone foundations were laid a yard thick. Soon afterwards the property was bought by its present owner, Mr George Taylor, and several fruitless endeavours were made to induce the magistrates to licence the building for dramatic performances. An application was also made early in June last before the Licensing Committee of the Bradford Town Council, in whose hands these powers have been placed by the Local Government Act, but it met with no better success.
Latterly agitation has been carried on for the purpose of getting the theatre opened. One of the objections which have been urged against the granting of a licence is that the building was merely a " wooden matchbox," but on the other hand, the means of exit from the place are said to have been good, there being five exits from the ground floor and four from the gallery. Recently there had been some talk of forming a limited liability company to float the concern, and of rebuilding the walls of the theatre of brick, besides placing a brick partition between the auditorium and the stage, and a meeting to consider the project was to have been held last Tuesday.
The last performance given in the building was about two months ago, when the Swiss Choir paid a visit to Bradford. Quite recently an application was made for another provisional licence - on behalf of the Prince of Wales's Amateur Minstrel Troupe, from the 8th to 13th inst - but it was refused.
The cause of the fire remains a mystery. So far as is known the building has not been entered since the 27th, when Mr. Taylor time looked round and found all right. Since that time it has been locked tip. This is the second theatre which has been burned down in Bradford, the Prince's Theatre being destroyed by fire in the summer of 1878.'
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JUBILEE CELEBRATION IN BRADFORD
There was an interesting gathering at Southbrook Lodge, Great Horton-road, Bradford, on Friday night, 29th ult., when Mr Henry Pullan, the lessee of the Prince's Theatre and the Star Music Hall, entertained at dinner the members of his family, a few of his old friends in the business, and the staffs of the two houses of entertainment, to celebrate the completion by him of fifty years of theatrical management.
The career of Mr, Pullan, who has attained the ripe age of seventy-five, naturally represents an important part of the history of Bradford amusements during the last fifty years.; In 1849 Mr Pullan built the Coliseum in Westgate, the building which, known later as St. James's Hall, has been amongst those recently pulled down in connection with the improvement of Westgate.
In 1858 Mr Pullan went to Manchester, and there for six years, was tenant of the Victoria Music Hall. He then came back to Bradford, and first returned to the Coliseum, which had now become known as the Protestant' Working Men's Hall, after which he built and opened, in 1869, Pullan's Theatre of Varieties in Brunswick-place, destroyed by fire about three years ago.
In 1886 Mr Pullan became the lessee of the Prince's Theatre and the Star Music Hall, which are now under the management of his two sons, Mr Charles Pullan, and Mr James Pullan, though Mr Henry Pullan still takes a close interest in the control of both establishments. Since 1873 Mr Pullan has resided at Otley, and Mr Charles Pullan occupies Southbrook Lodge.
The guests at Friday night's gathering numbered in all about 130, and after dinner an interesting presentation was made in the billiard-room, where Mr John Sheldon was asked to act as chairman. Mr John Wainwright, in the unavoidable absence of Mr Hobson, of the Theatre Royal, Leeds, handed to Mr Henry Pullan, on behalf of the bands and the staff "behind" and "in front" at both the Prince's Theatre and the Star Music Hall, a handsome writing cabinet, and, on behalf of a few of Mr Henry Pullan's old friends, Mr Sheldon presented him with a silver cigar-case and a silver match-box. Mr Pullan, in reply, made a short but feeling speech, and afterwards Mr John Hart, of the Bradford Theatre Royal, and other gentlemen made brief congratulatory addresses, and Mr Charles Pullan had to acknowledge a hearty toast in his honour. Subsequently several ladies and gentlemen belonging to the companies now engaged at Mr Pullan's places of amusement and others present entertained the company with songs and recitations, and one of the most enjoyable items of this kind was a capital elocutionary effort by Mr Henry Pullan himself, the fulness of whose vigour and life were reflected in his ample hospitality. - The ERA, 7th of May 1892.
Some of the archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.
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