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The Albert Theatre & Opera House, Huddersfield Road, Brighouse, Yorkshire

Later - Star Bingo / Kingsway Bingo / Barracuda Bar / The Calder Public House

A Google StreetView Image of the former Albert Theatre & Opera House, Brighouse in July 2021 - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the former Albert Theatre & Opera House, Brighouse in July 2021 - Click to Interact.

In the papers in early September 1899 reports were being published that John Walters, the well known theatre manager, had succeeded in obtaining the lease of the new Albert Theatre and Opera House in Brighouse. The Theatre had just been erected to the designs of the architects Sharp and Waller by a local company at a cost of £4,000. John Walters announced that he intended to open the Theatre on the 3rd of October and run it in conjunction with his theatre at Backup and the Town Hall, Todmorden. There were some delays to the opening but the Albert Theatre finally opened to the public under John Walters Management on Monday the 16th of October 1899 with Henry J. Hadfield's version of 'The Sorrows of Satan' and 'Time's Revenge'. However, an earlier production actually took place in the Theatre, perhaps as a try out, when the Huddersfield Amateur Operatic Society staged 'Iolanthe' there on Thursday the 12th of October 1899. The Theatre could seat 1,098 people in its Stalls, Dress Circle, and Gallery level, and was lit by electricity.

The Stage Newspaper reported on the Theatre's opening in their 12th of October 1899 edition saying:- 'This (Thursday) evening witnesses the opening of the Albert Theatre and Opera House, Brighouse, Yorks, a thickly-populated industrial municipal borough lying midway between the cities of Bradford, Leeds, and the boroughs of Haleford, Huddersfield, in the West Riding. The new premises have been erected by the Albert Theatre and Opera House Company, Limited, with the special object of providing the Brighouse 80,000 population with an up-to-date and thoroughly equipped place for theatrical performances, which hitherto have had to be given under great disadvantages in the Town Hall.

The new premises have been erected from plans by Messrs. Sharp and Waller, architects, Brighouse. The new theatre occupies a splendid frontage to the main thoroughfare in the borough, and is within two minutes' walk of the railway station. There are three shops in front, otherwise the whole of the building will be used for theatrical purposes.

The front of the house comprises stall and pit, dress-circle, promenade, and gallery. Seating capacity for 1,200, and holding capacity for 1,600 people. The dress-circle and stalls are fitted with tip-up velvet chairs, and the pit and gallery with comfortable backed seats.

The stage is fully equipped with all necessary appliances. The dimensions are - Width of stage, 50ft; depth of stage from fireproof curtain to back wall, 25 ft; height to grid, 40 ft.; height to fly floor, 19 ft. 6 in; proscenium opening, 28 ft. wide, 20 ft. high. Eight good dressing and super rooms are fitted with every convenience.

The cost of the premises has been about £4,000. The erection of the new theatre has caused a large amount of interest in the district, patrons of the drama having hitherto had to go to Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford or Leeds in order to see what they will now be able to witness at home.

To open the theatre, arrangements have been made with the members of the Huddersfield Amateur Operatic Society for a three nights' performance of Iolanthe, the proceeds to be devoted to the benefit of local charities. Mr. John Walters, of the Court, Bacup, has contracted to rent the theatre until after Christmas, and will arrange for performances to be given nightly. He will also produce a pantomime at Christmas. Mr. Walters commences his occupancy on Monday, and the first Co. to appear will be Mr. Henry J. Hadfield's Co. in The Sorrows of Satan and Time's Revenge. Mr. Joshua Hall is the secretary of the Co. for whom Mr. Martin (Brighouse), who is the licensor, will act as the responsible manager.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Stage Newspaper, 12th of October 1899.

The former Albert Theatre & Opera House, Brighouse in Novemner 2021 - Courtesy Philip Paine.

Above - The former Albert Theatre & Opera House, Brighouse in Novemner 2021 - Courtesy Philip Paine.

The interior of the Calder Public House, formerly the Albert Theatre, Brighouse, in November 2021 - Courtesy Philip Paine.The Albert Theatre and Opera House, Brighouse officially opened on Monday the 16th of October 1899 and would go on to stage plays and musical entertainments well into the 1950s. Films had become part of the programming as early as 1900 and by 1906 they had become more regular features. By 1910 the Theatre was showing Films only but later it would be home to regular cine variety performances.

Right - The interior of the Calder Public House, formerly the Albert Theatre, Brighouse, in November 2021 - Courtesy Philip Paine.

In 1930 the Theatre's auditorium was radically altered, the Dress Circle, Gallery and boxes were removed and a single Circle and stalls was constructed in their place, also using part of the space previously occupied by the Theatre's stage. The new auditorium was decorated in the Art Deco Style and although it was still equipped with a stage this was now much smaller than originally.

A Plaque situated at the entrance to the Calder Public House, Brighouse, commemorating the buildings original purpose as the Albert Theatre & Opera House - Courtesy Philip Paine.In 1953 the Theatre was equipped for Cinemascope presentations under its new management of the Leeds Star Cinemas chain. Run as a Cinema now with no live productions the Theatre finally closed in July 1971 and was converted for Bingo reopening as the Star Bingo Club. Later renamed Kingsway Bingo club this activity ended when it was closed again in 2007. After this some renovation took place and the old Theatre was reopened as a Public House under the name of the Barracuda Bar. Renovated again in 2008 it reopened as The Calder pub which is still running at the time of writing in December 2021.

Left - A Plaque situated at the entrance to the Calder Public House, Brighouse, commemorating the buildings original purpose as the Albert Theatre & Opera House - Courtesy Philip Paine.

Sadly after all the alterations to the building over the years little remains of the original building, although the fly tower remains externally, nothing of the stage house survives today, and the auditorium space now occupied as a bar has very little to show of its original purpose.

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