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Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

Theatres in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland

Adelphi Theatre / Princess Theatre - Theatre Royal - Empire Theatre

The Adelphi Theatre, Coatbridge

Later - The Princess Theatre

Iron ore, coal, canals and railways met in Coatbridge making it the Iron Town, and it was this growth that attracted the popular showman and magician David Prince Miller to set up another Adelphi Theatre. His first major one had opened in 1842, the immense and packed Adelphi Theatre, Glasgow, on the edge of Glasgow Green but fire had consumed it in 1848, not long after he had been sequestrated. Thereafter he appeared in Scotland and England in new shows and most often his own show called Through Fire and Water, or The Ups and Downs of a Showman`s Life. Now in 1863 he built again.

In his book, 'From the Rise and Progress of Coatbridge', published in 1864, Andrew Miller, one of the ironmasters, writes:- “The Adelphi Theatre, which may now be considered an established institution, was erected in September 1863. The proprietors are Messrs David Prince Miller and Walter Edwin. The structure is built of wood and stands on that site locally known as “Robin Boss`s Haugh.” The whole building is 120 feet long by 45 feet broad, and fitted up with a gallery, pit, and side boxes, giving accommodation to about 1500 of an audience. The stage is 30 x 45 feet, well fitted up, with internal arrangements for machinery etc.'

The decorations, painting and other scenery were executed by Mr F Fisher of Glasgow, and Mr William Preston of Manchester, the latter being the scenic professional to the establishment for the season. The drop scene (the work of Mr Fisher) represents a local sketch of the iron bridge of the Caledonian Railway that spans the Monkland Canal.

For the past season the theatre has been liberally supported, a sufficient indication that such a want previously existed. The drama has been creditably maintained by the company of artistes engaged, and the management all that the most fastidious could desire. The success hitherto augurs well for future seasons, and that even here

“A little nonsense now and then
Is relished by the most of men.”

As well as performances the theatre held the meetings of the Scotch Iron Trade, some 800 attending on such occasions. However in February 1865 Miller and Edwin (real name Edwin Brown) were sequestrated because they were unable to pay all the monies due to the theatre`s builder, John Dykes of Calton, Glasgow, and other suppliers. They also had an Adelphi Theatre in Dumbarton and the wooden building, erected there in 1864, and its scenery and fittings, were also auctioned off to pay creditors.

By 1873, a year after David Prince Miller died, the PRINCESS THEATRE was operating, and it is likely that this was the new name borne by the Adelphi under new direction, until being replaced by a very substantial Theatre Royal.

This Article on the Adelphi Theatre was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by him in January 2013.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre you are willing to share please Contact me.

The Theatre Royal, Main Street, Coatbridge

Later - The Regent Cinema

A postcard showing Main Street, Coatbridge and the Theatre Royal - Courtesy Graeme Smith

Above - A postcard showing Main Street, Coatbridge and the Theatre Royal, the image also shows some of the chimneys from the iron works opposite the Theatre - Courtesy Graeme Smith

After planning and construction lasting almost two years the Theatre Royal opened in September 1875. Its architect was William Randall Quinton, of Glasgow, and the detailed descriptions of it in the Glasgow Herald on its opening day convey an idea of its size: - "The theatre is 100 feet long and 52 feet wide, with seating for 2000, and space for 500 more... in its pit, two horse-shoe shape galleries, the circle also having boxes at the rear. Topped with a Pompeian style dome... The act drop is a representation of Lago D`Orta by Mr A Henderson of Astley`s London and the principal stage scenery has been produced by Mr Mapleson of the Theatre Royal,Covent Garden. Upholstery and crimson Utrecht velvet is supplied by the eminent firm of Wylie & Lochhead of Glasgow.”

It was a busy venue for pantomime, dramas, and variety, and received annual visits from the Arthur Lloyd's Company in the 1880s and 90s. In 1907 when Fred Karno`s Mumming Brothers appeared they included a young Charlie Chaplin.

It was also used for political and franchise meetings, and of course by the Scotch Iron Trade.

In 1890 an accident at the Theatre Royal occurred when part of the gallery collapsed due to dry rot, the ERA reported on the event in their 18th of October 1890 edition saying: - 'On Friday night, 10th inst., a rather serious accident occurred at the Theatre Royal, Coathridge, but one, fortunately, that was unattended with any fatal result. It seems at the conclusion of the performance, while the occupants of the gallery were dispersing, those in front, on reaching the fourth landing, found it giving way, and before they were able to retreat were precipitated to the bottom amid the debris. Fortunately the attendance in that part of the house was not large, and the cries of those that fell alarmed those behind, who, as they proceeded, were greatly alarmed as they saw the gaping abyss in front. A general retreat was made to the gallery, and loud cries soon brought Mr Charles Melville (Crimes of Paris company) from his dressing-room. The curtain was rung up, and those on the stage made aware of what had taken place. Mr Jones, stage carpenter, immediately went to the assistance of the gods, and brought them down through the flies. It was found that one man named M'Ewan had his leg broken, while several others had cuts about the face and head. Their injuries were attended to by Drs. Thompson and Rennie. Captain Dods, superintendent of police, was soon on the spot, inquiring into the nature and cause of the accident. It seems that when the theatre was erected, some fifteen years ago, the various landings on the gallery stairs, instead of being made to rest on iron supports, were simply placed on wooden ones. These at the locus of the accident had been affected with dry rot. Captain Dods took possession of the broken woodwork with a view of submitting the same to the Procurator Fiscal. On Saturday a special meeting of the Coatbridge Dean of Guild Court was held. The members, consisting of Dean of Guild Wilson, Vice Dean Gilchrist, Mr Mitchell (master of works}, and Mr J. M. Alston (town clerk), visited the scene of the accident. Leaving this, a most minute examination of the supports on the other landings was made. All were more or less affected with rot, and, under the circumstances, the Court had no alternative but to declare that the wood in every case should be removed and that iron girders must be substituted; that the gallery should be closed in the meantime; and that after these alterations had been carried out an examination of the theatre should be made - The ERA, 18th of October 1890.

The interior of the Theatre was later reinstated after a fire in 1900.

In 1938 the Royal changed to being a cinema until its closure in August 1958, being demolished in 1966, one hundred years after David Prince Miller first set the scene.

There is a nice early image of the Theatre Royal, Coatbridge on the Scottish Cinemas website here.

This Article on the Theatre Royal was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by him in January 2013.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre you are willing to share please Contact me.

The Empire Theatre, Main Street, Coatbridge

Later - Odeon Cinema

The Empire was a smaller theatre, also in the Main Street, near the Telephone Exchange. It presented variety from its opening in October 1912, becoming mainly a cinema in 1920 when it was bought by the early Singleton circuit who later sold it in 1936 to the Odeon group and after remodelling became known as the Odeon.

It closed in 1976 and was demolished.

There is a nice early image of the Empire in its guise as an Odeon Cinema on the Scottish Cinemas website here.

This Article on the Empire Theatre was written by Graeme Smith and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by him in January 2013.

There are some images of Coatbridge Theatres here.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre you are willing to share please Contact me.