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Theatres and Halls in Dover, Kent

The Tivoli Theatre, Snargate Street, Dover

Formerly - The Clarence Theatre - Later - The Theatre Royal / Hippodrome

The Tivoli Theatre, Dover - From the Dover Observer of 1898

Above - The Tivoli Theatre, Dover - From the Dover Observer of 1898

The Tivoli Theatre in Snargate Street, Dover was built on the site of the former 1790 Clarence Theatre and was designed by the eminent Theatre Architect C. J. Phipps, with A. Blomfield Jackson, of London, and was built by H. Richardson, of Dover. Phipps had just completed London's Her Majesty's Theatre and was returning from supervising the construction of the Tivoli Theatre on Saturday the 22nd of May 1897 when he took ill on the return journey to London and died the following Tuesday, sadly he would never see the Tivoli Theatre completed.

The Tivoli Theatre opened on Monday the 14th of June 1897 with an auditorium consisting of stalls, dress circle, pit, gallery and boxes, and a capacity of around 1,200 people. The ERA reported on the new Theatre in their 8th of May 1897 edition saying: 'The new Tivoli Theatre, advertised to open on Monday, June 14th, occupies the site of the old Clarence Theatre in Snargate-street, with the addition of the adjoining licensed premises the Princess Alice. It has an important frontage in Snargate-street, running right through to Northampton-street, with entrances and exits in both thoroughfares.

The auditorium consists of private boxes, stalls, dress circle, pit and gallery. The stalls are above the level of Snargate-street, and are furnished with plush upholstered chairs of the latest and best patterns of the same style as in Her Majesty's Theatre. The dress circle is provided with chairs of the same style as those in the stalls, and there is a spacious promenade behind. The pit, most excellently seated, is entered from the west side of the frontage, and the large and spacious gallery by an entrance next to the buffet.

The building has a holding accommodation for upwards of 1,200 persons. Between Snargate-street and Northampton-street there are a series of rooms, storage and cellarage. In Snargate-street there is a handsome and commodious saloon, luxuriously furnished and fitted. This saloon will be used, not only in connection with the theatre, but will be open during the daytime, and will supply a want that has always been felt in this busy part of the town. Provision has been made for fitting up a grill in this saloon. There are refreshment rooms to each tier, with every convenience for ladies and gentlemen.

The stage is divided from the auditorium by a brick proscenium wall, carried up through the roof, the opening being 25ft. wide. The width of the stage is 47ft., by a depth from the footlights to the back wall of 22ft., with the fullest possible dressing-room accommodation, provided with every up-to-date improvement. From curtain line to the front of the dress circle is 29ft., and from the curtain-line to the front of the galley 35ft (sic). There are two private boxes on either side of the dress-circle level.

The whole of the construction, from foundation to roof, is of iron and concrete. The interior decorations are of the highest order, and superbly furnished, fitted, and appointed, making the Dover-Tivoli one of the most elegant and commodious theatres in the provinces. The theatre has been erected from the designs of Mr C. J. Phipps, F.S.A., the eminent architect, and Mr A. Blomfield Jackson, of London, and has been built by Mr H. Richardson, of Dover. Messrs Jackson and Son have supplied the plaster decorations, Mr Edwd. Bell the painting and gilding, and Messrs Wadman are supplying the chairs. All these three firms, and also the architects, having been connected with the work at Her Majesty's Theatre in the Haymarket, London.

The new and handsome act drop and scenery have been specially designed by one of our leading artists, and executed in the most perfect manner by the well known scene painter Mr Julian Hicks, in his own studio. The fire hydrants and appliances are by Messrs Merry-weather and Co., and the constructional iron and steel work has been manufactured and executed by Messrs Walter Jones and Son, of London.

The directors have secured the services of Mr Amand A. Mascard as manager, late of the Strand Theatre and Trocadero, London, and who has already booked most of the London successes, amongst others being The Sign of the Cross, Gay Parisienne, Horace Lingard, A Night Out, Shop Girl, His Little Dodge, Artist's Model, Miss Fortescue, Monte Carlo, D'Oyly Carte, Rosemary, Pink Dominos, Betsy, &c.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 8th of May 1897.

In September 1898, just a year after the Theatre opened, the facade was altered so that the popular saloon bar could be more easily entered from the street and the Theatre was renamed the Theatre Royal at the same time.

In march 1910 the Theatre was renamed The Royal Hippodrome, a name it would retain until the building was destroyed by enemy action in September 1944. The shell of the building then stood empty for many years until it was eventually demolished in 1951.

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.

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