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Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

The Broadhead Circuit

By Alan Chudley

The Palace Variety Theatre, BlackpoolWilliam Henry Broadhead was the founder of the Broadhead Circuit of around 17 Theatres in the Manchester area. He started life as a builder in Mansfield but later in life ill health forced him to relocate to Blackpool where he became a well loved citizen, and later a Justice of the peace and the town's Mayor. He died in Apil 1931 and his Theatres were sold off in 1932.

The Broadhead Circuit began with the Blackpool Baths which was later redeveloped as part of the Palace Theatre (shown right) and the Palace Ballroom, Lewis Retail shops now stand on the site. Later Alderman Broadhead, as he became, had a Circuit consisting of the following Theatres:

The Winter Gardens Morecombe, still standing but disused.
The Pavilion Liverpool, parts remain after a serious fire.
The Pavilion, Ashton Under Lyme. This was a dance hall.
The Hippodrome, Ashton Under Lyme. The auditorium was altered in the 1930s as an ABC Cinema but the Broadhead stage was retained, this is now the Tameside Hippodrome and the only still working Ex-Broadhead Theatre.
The Olympia in the Manchester Area, now demolished.
The Hippodrome, Bury, now demolished.
The Hippodrome, Salford, now demolished.
The Hippodrome, Hulme, still standing but disused.
The Hippodrome, Queens Park, Manchester, now demolished.
The Hippodrome, Preston, now demolished.
The Kings Palace, Preston, now demolished.
The Kings, Londsight, now demolished.
The Royal Osborne, Manchester, now demolished.
The Empress, Oldham Road, a Cinema, now demolished.
The Junction Theatre Hulme, still standing but disused.
The Metropole Theatre, Manchester now demolished.
The Crown Theatre Eccles, derelict.

The Tameside HippodromeIn my working life (1940 onwards) only the two Preston Theatres and the Hippodrome Salford were still in the Broadhead Circuit; the other Theatres being sold off in the 1930s. There were "Aquafantasia' shows held at the Bournemouth Pier-head baths during the 1950s and 1960s. The pier head baths were between the pier and the Bath Hotel and have since been demolished. William Broadhead was the man who opened the Blackpool Bath shows. In my days the Baths at Blackpool had long since gone and had stood more or less next door to what in my time was to be the well known Palace Theatre, Blackpool, and the Broadhead Circuit was reduced to the Hippodromes at Preston and Salford and the Palace at Preston. Other Broadhead Theatres existed under other managements, of which now only the Tameside Hippodrome (shown left) survives as a working Theatre.

The auction Catalogue for the sale of the Broadhead Circuit of Theatres in 1932

The auction Catalogue for the sale of the Broadhead Circuit of Theatres in 1932 - Courtesy K.R.

The auction Catalogue for the sale of the Broadhead Circuit of Theatres in 1932 - Courtesy K.R.

The auction Catalogue for the sale of the Broadhead Circuit of Theatres in 1932 - Courtesy K.R.

The auction Catalogue for the sale of the Broadhead Circuit of Theatres in 1932 - Courtesy K.R.

The auction Catalogue for the sale of the Broadhead Circuit of Theatres in 1932 - Courtesy K.R.

The auction Catalogue for the sale of the Broadhead Circuit of Theatres in 1932 - Courtesy K.R.

Above - The auction Catalogue for the sale of the Broadhead Circuit of Theatres in 1932 - Courtesy K.R.

This article on the Broadhead Circuit was kindly sent in by Alan Chudley for inclusion on the site in 2009 and added in 2012. The 1932 Auction catalogue for the Broadhead Circuit of Theatre, dated 1932, was kindly sent in by K.R.

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