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The King's Theatre, High Street and Sunderland Road, Gateshead

Later - The King's Theatre of Varieties / The Empire Theatre / Essoldo Cinema

An early postcard showing the King's Theatre, Gateshead

Above - An early postcard showing the King's Theatre, Gateshead

A programme for a variety show at the King's Theatre, Gateshead for the week of the 15th of February 1909The King's Theatre stood on the corner of the High Street and Sunderland Road in Gateshead, and was designed by Stuart M. Mold, opening on the 9th of October 1905. The Theatre's exterior was constructed in the Spanish Renaissance style, and the auditorium, which could seat 2,000 people in its orchestra stalls, dress circle and galleries, was designed in the Art Nouveau style. The Theatre's stage was 42 foot deep with a proscenium opening of 28 foot, and there were 10 dressing rooms for artistes.

Right and Below - A programme for a variety show at the King's Theatre, Gateshead for the week of the 15th of February 1909.

Cast details from a programme for a variety show at the King's Theatre, Gateshead for the week of the 15th of February 1909.When the Theatre opened it was unlicensed and by November the same year several summonses had been issued against its Manager F. R. Yeulett for running the Theatre without a Licence. The Stage Newspaper reported on this in their 30th of November 1905 edition saying:- 'On Monday Mr. F. R. Yeulett, manager of the new King's, Gateshead, was fined ten shillings and costs on each of six summonses for keeping open the King's for the performance of stage plays from October 9 to 14 without a licence. Mr. Yeulett said the engagements he had made with theatrical companies made it imperative for him to open the theatre when he did, otherwise a number of people would have been thrown out of employment. The theatre was finished now, and he hoped to get the licence. Six more summonses ware granted against him for keeping open between October 16 and 21.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Stage Newspaper 30th November 1905.

Although the Theatre did eventually gain a Licence the King's was unable to attract major stars to tread its boards and by 1907 it was already screening films as part of its variety shows.

This situation was improved when Richard Thornton took over the Theatre in December 1917. He altered and renovated the auditorium and reopened the Theatre as the Empire Theatre in 1918.

The Stage Newspaper reported on this in their November 29th 1917 edition saying:- 'Mr. Richard Thornton, director of Moss' Empires, Ltd., and managing director of the Empires, Sunderland, Shields, and Hartlepool, has formed a company, with himself as managing director, to take over the King's, Gateshead, early next month.

After renovating and re-arrangement of the seating, the house will be opened under the name of the Empire, and will be booked in conjunction with his other enterprises, thus giving artists four weeks with practically no railway fares or trouble in securing trucks for scenery, which can be sent by road on the Sunday, to the great saving of labour in loading and unloading.

Gateshead, up to the present, has been greatly handicapped by the barring clause inserted in all Newcastle contracts, but, as the new house will now be associated with the Moss' Empires, the said clause, as far as they are concerned, will not be enforced in its entirety. The bookings for the Gateshead Empire will be in the hands of Mr. Thornton's general manager, Mr. Harry Esden, who also controls the bookings for Sunderland, Shields, and Hartlepool.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Stage Newspaper November 29th 1917.

 

The King's Theatre, Gateshead under construction in 1905 - Courtesy Nigel Hill.

Above - The King's Theatre, Gateshead under construction in 1905 - Courtesy Nigel Hill. The Caption for the photograph reads:- 'Main Girders and Rakers for Dress Circle. King's Theatre Gateshead-on-Tyne. Designed and Erected by Vaughan & Dymond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.'

The King's Theatre, Gateshead under construction in 1905 - Courtesy Nigel Hill.

Above - The King's Theatre, Gateshead under construction in 1905 - Courtesy Nigel Hill. The Caption for the photograph reads:- 'Main Girder and Rakers during Construction. King's Theatre Gateshead-on-Tyne. Designed and Erected by Vaughan & Dymond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.'

 

A Twice Nightly Variety Poster for the Gateshead Empire Theatre Circa 1920s - Courtesy Chris Cornwell. The Theatre faired better under its new management and new Empire name, and ran variety shows there for many years, although films were still part of the programing, and in October 1921 a projection box was installed at the rear of the stage to help with this. Sound equipment was also installed to enable the showing of 'Talkies' in 1932.

Right and Below - Twice Nightly Variety Posters for the Gateshead Empire Theatre Circa 1920s - Courtesy Chris Cornwell. On the Bill were Waldin's Gypsy Band, Young Bryn, the Milton Sisters, Sussex and Surri, Selwi & Saraina, Evelyn & Mildred Carroll, Hus Aubrey, and Della's Sixteen Canine Wonders. The Poster is also advertising a Grand Christmas Pantomime entitled 'Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp'.

A Twice Nightly Variety Poster for the Gateshead Empire Theatre Circa 1920s - Courtesy Chris Cornwell.

The Theatre closed as a variety Theatre on the 15th of May 1933 and was later reopened as a repertory Theatre on the 5th of March the following year. Repertory then played there with the occasional variety show until the outbreak of the War in 1939.

After the War the Theatre was taken over by the Essoldo Chain in 1946 who ran it as a variety Theatre for a few years until 1950.

After this it was renamed the Essoldo and reopened on the 1st of May 1950 with a new projection box at the rear of the now closed Gallery and a presentation of the full length Film 'Bomba'.

In its new guise as a Cinema the Essoldo was the first Theatre in Gateshead to screen 3D Films, and the first to show Cinamascope Films there too.

Despite all this the stage had been retained and it did put on the occasional live show but this ended with its last Christmas pantomime production of 'Jack and the Beanstalk' in 1965.

However, the occasional amateur production was still staged there for a while afterwards. There is a photo of the Theatre as the Essoldo here.

On the 30th of December 1967 the Essoldo was closed and the following year it was demolished for the building of a new viaduct for the A1.

Some of the later information for this Theatre was gleaned from the excellent Cinema Treasures Website.

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

 

The Metropole Theatre, High-street and Jackson-street, Gateshead

Later - The Scala Cinema

A sketch of the Metropolitan Theatre, Gateshead - Courtesy John West

Above - A sketch of the Metropolitan Theatre, Gateshead - Courtesy John West

The Metropole Theatre was the largest Theatre to be built in Gateshead, seating over 2,000 people. It was constructed for Weldon Watts by S. F. Davidson in 1896, and designed by the Newcastle architect William Hope, who was responsible for a great many Theatre designs around Britain in his time, although usually in collaboration with J. C. Maxwell.

The ERA reported on the imminent opening of the Theatre in their 19th of September 1896 edition saying:- 'The new Metropole Theatre, Gateshead-on-Tyne, is rapidly approaching completion, and the proprietors, Messrs Weldon Watts and Co., have arranged to open the building to the public on the 28th inst., with Mr Wilson Barrett's famous play, The Sign of the Cross. The building is of red brick with stone facings, and will comfortably seat an audience of 2,000 persons. Its entire length is 98ft., whilst its breadth is 60ft. From the back wall of the stage to the curtain line is 38ft., which, with its breadth of 60ft., gives possibilities for the production of plays on a large scale. The entire building will be lighted by electricity, and ventilated by the latest and most approved methods. There are six capacious exits, exclusive of those attached to the stage and dressing rooms. The architect is Mr William Hope, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, who designed the Grand Theatre at Heaton. - The ERA, 19th of September1896.

The Metropole Theatre opened on Monday the 28th of September with a production of Wilson Barrett's play, 'The Sign of the Cross' and the ERA were on hand to report on the opening in their 3rd of October 1896 edition saying:- 'The inhabitants of Gateshead have had to wait a long time for a theatre which would meet the requirements of the large and rapidly increasing population of the borough. Now, thanks to the enterprise of Mr Weldon Watts, their needs in this respect have been fully met by the erection of the handsome and palatial building, which was opened to the public with every token of success on Monday last.

It is little over three years ago since Mr Watts took over the management of the hitherto unsuccessful Queen's Theatre in this town, which he rapidly converted into a paying property, due in a great measure to his managerial tact and business ability. Since then it is really surprising to consider what Mr Watts has accomplished in so short a time. It is only recently that the Grand Theatre in the neighbouring town of Newcastle was opened under his management, and he is rapidly extending his operations to other populous centres in the north, and further afield, in the south and midlands. It is pretty safe to predict that the Metropole, Gateshead, will not be the least successful of his many ventures. The theatre would require to be twice its size to accommodate the crowd which presented itself for admission on Monday, pit and gallery being filled to overflowing by the early doors. The dress-circle presented an animated appearance, being occupied to its utmost extent by a gathering representative of the town, aldermen, town councillors, and corporation officials being strongly in evidence.

Brilliantly illuminated by the electric light, the theatre looked very pretty and the beautiful scheme of decoration, on which Mr A. R. Dean, of Birmingham, and his assistants are to be congratulated, elicited expressions of delight and admiration on all sides. For the opening week the management were fortunate in having booked Mr Wm. Greet's company in The Sign of the Cross; a more popular engagement could not be wished for. On the curtain rising for the first time, the entire company was found assembled on the stage together with Mr Watts. The orchestra, under the direction of Mr H. Hinchcliffe, struck up the National Anthem, and Miss Phebe Mercer advanced to the footlights and sang the solo, the audience upstanding and joining with hearty fervour in a repetition of the verse. After the enthusiasm had subsided the play was proceeded with, and was followed by the audience with rapt attention...

...During the evening Mr Watts took occasion to address the audience, and in the course of his speech said he wished to thank them on behalf of his partner, Mr Bacon, and himself for their patronage that evening. That was the second occasion on which he had opened a theatre in Gateshead. What a difference from the last occasion! However, it was necessary to commence in a small way, and work upwards by degrees. Without egotism, he thought he could say he had done so. When he came to Gateshead a perfect stranger he was received with a cordial welcome, although he was compelled to say his ardour was considerably damped, for many people said, "You seem a decent sort of fellow, but we are afraid you have made a mistake; a theatre never would pay in Gateshead." He replied that he was determined to make one pay, and he had done so. He thanked them for their patronage in the past, and hoped it would be continued in the future. It was his intention to bring companies just the same as those that visited Newcastle. These would all be provided at the reasonable prices which he maintained were charged at the door. He wished to thank the eminent architect, Mr Wm. Hope, for the way in which he had designed that building, Mr Davidson, the builder, and the other firms who had been engaged in the work. Mr Watts concluded by paying a warm tribute of praise to his acting-manager, Mr Sidney Bacon, who had never relaxed his exertions. He (Mr Bacon) was young in his business, but he predicted a bright future for him. Mr Seymour Hodges, the urbane and energetic manager for Mr Greet's company, then spoke, and said there was certainly not in any town in the United Kingdom of the size of Gateshead such a theatre as the one that was opened that night. They could all see that the arrangements in front of the curtain were admirable, and he had great pleasure in stating that he had found the provision made for the artists behind the curtain equally satisfactory. Alderman Dunn also spoke.

The performance concluded in good time, and the opening proceedings were in all respects eminently successful. The proprietors of the theatre are Messrs Weldon Watts and Co. Mr Watts is to be managing director, and Mr Sidney Bacon will discharge the duties of acting-manager, a position which he efficiently occupied at the Queen's for the last twelve months or so.

The theatre, which will hold 2,500 persons, occupies the principal portion of a handsome new block of buildings, faced with red pressed bricks, with stone dressings, at the corner of High-street and Jackson-street, a most central part of the town. The pit and gallery entrances are in High-street, and the dress-circle and stalls are approached from Jackson-street, the marble staircase leading to the circle being very fine. The pit is 60ft. wide and 60ft. long from curtain to back wall. The depth of the stage is 38ft., and its width is 60ft. The ceiling of the auditorium is beautifully decorated, representing cupids arranging festoons, and the fronts of boxes, circle, and gallery are elaborately finished in fibrous plaster, richly coloured. The dress-circle and stalls are fitted with tip-up chairs, and the pit has comfortable seats with padded backs. Each floor has separate suites of lavatories for ladies and gentlemen; refreshment rooms also being provided on each floor. The convenience and comfort of the artistes have been carefully considered, all their requirements being placed in a commodious block of dressing-rooms alongside the stage, fitted with hot and cold water and the latest sanitary arrangements. Hot water pipes are used for the heating of the building, while the lighting is done by electricity, the machinery for the installation being situated in a large cellar completely cut off from the rest of the house, so that no noise can be heard in the auditorium. A plentiful supply of hydrants is at hand in case of fire, and a most complete arrangement of exits is provided; there being two to each floor - eight in all - including two from the stage. Everything possible has been done for the comfort of the audience, and such ingenuity has been bestowed upon the arrangement of the seats, that even from the least acceptable position in the gallery a good view of the stage is to be had. The theatre has been built to plans designed by Mr Wm. Hope, architect, of Newcastle. Mr S. F. Davidson, of Heaton, was the contractor for the whole of the buildings, and he is to be congratulated on the speed with which he has accomplished a gigantic task - the entire building having been erected in some five months. The decorating and furnishing have been done by Messrs Dean, of Birmingham; the electric installation is by Messrs Rowland Barnett and Co., of Newcastle; the heating by Messrs Dinning and Cooke; and the plumbing by Messrs Tweddle and Co., also of Newcastle.

The above text in quotes (edited) was first published in the ERA, 3rd of October 1896.

The Building News and Engineering Journal also reported on the opening of the Metropole Theatre in their October the 2nd 1896 edition saying:- 'The new Metropole Theatre at the corner of High-street and Jackson-street was opened on Monday night. An hotel has been built at the angle formed by the two streets, and takes the place of an old public-house called the Masons' Arms. Both the hotel and theatre are faced with red pressed bricks, with elaborate stone dressings.

The theatre accommodates about 2,500 persons. The pit is 60ft. wide, and 60ft. long from curtain to back wall. The depth of the stage from the curtain line to the back wall is 38ft., and the width 60ft. The pit and gallery entrances are in High-street, and those to the dress circle and stalls are in Jackson-street. The dress entrance leads into a decorated hall, from which the circle is reached by means of a marble staircase with brass hand-rails on each side. The ceiling and walls of the hall are decorated, having a clouded ceiling and frieze. The other entrances and staircases all have concrete steps of easy ascent.

The ceiling of the auditorium and the fronts of boxes, circle, and gallery are finished in fibrous plaster, richly coloured. The ceiling is treated with cupids, and festoons, with clouds above. There are two exits to each floor, eight in all - including two from the stage. Each floor has separate suites of lavatories for ladies and gentlemen. Small refreshment rooms are also provided on each floor. A block of dressing-rooms is provided alongside the stage, fitted with hot and cold water.

The buildings will be heated by hot-water pipes, and lighted by electricity, all the machinery for the installation being placed in a cellar, cut off from the rest of the building, so that no noise can be heard in the auditorium. Hydrants have been fixed in the building in case of an outbreak of fire. The dress circle and stalls are fitted with tip-up chairs, and the pit with seats with padded backs. Mr. Wm. Hope, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, was the architect, and Mr. S. F. Davidson, of Heaton, the contractor for the whole of the buildings.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Building News and Engineering Journal, October 2nd 1896.


An early photograph of the Scala Cinema and Metropole Hotel, Gateshead.The Metropole Theatre opened on Monday the 28th of September 1896 with a production of Wilson Barrett's play, 'The Sign of the Cross'.

The Theatre only had a short life in this form however, as in 1919 it was converted for Cinema use, and would later be renamed the Scala.

Right - An early photograph of the Scala Cinema and Metropole Hotel, Gateshead.

The Scala was the first Cinema in the Country to use rear projection. The films, which were silent at first, were accompanied by a large orchestra, but later a Cinema Organ was installed in the Theatre, costing some £3,000, and played by Albert Evans.

Sadly the Theatre was demolished in 1960 although the Metropole Hotel which formed part of the building still survives today (see image below).


A Google StreetView Image of the Metropole Hotel, Gateshead, part of which formed the entrance to the Metropole / Scala Theatre - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Metropole Hotel, Gateshead, part of which formed the entrance to the Metropole / Scala Theatre - Click to Interact.

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

 

The Theatre Royal, High Street, Gateshead

Later - The Queen's Theatre / Queen's Theatre of Varieties / Hippodrome

The Theatre Royal was situated on the High Street in Gateshead and opened on Monday the 10th of October 1887 with a performance of 'The Unknown' by J. B. Mulholland's Company under the direction of E. Parker-Royston. Originally built as a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in 1815 it was later sold to the United Methodists in 1861. After this, in 1862 it was in use as a Music Hall, and then variously as a boxing hall, a market, and a Salvation Army Hall before becoming a Theatre.

The Theatre Royal, as it became known in 1887, could accommodate around 1,600 people and was leased by Turner and Bacon for the first three years. They encouraged small drama companies to visit the Theatre on their tours and put on regular Christmas pantomimes, one of which, 'Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp' was playing at Christmas 1891 when a terrible tragedy occurred. The pantomime employed about 60 people, including principles, corps de ballet, and 'supers', and there were around 1,250 people watching the show on Boxing night, Saturday the 26th of December 1891, including naturally, a great many children, especially in the gallery.

The Gallery Landing where the Bodies were found - - From Lloyd's Weekly, 3rd January 1892. Lloyd's Weekly of the 3rd of January 1892 takes up the story very dramatically saying:- 'The pantomime had gone smoothly and well until near the end, and the little folks had been enjoying it greatly. The eighth scene, called "The Illuminated Gardens of the Flying Palace - in which were introduced a children's Chinese dance and a "Ballet of all Nations" - had just been concluded when the lamentable accident occurred. Some one in the balcony, which is a semicircle immediately below the gallery, dropped a burning match down a crevice that separates the back of one seat from the front of another. These crevices have, in course of time, become the receptacles for old programmes, pieces of paper, and other rubbish. Some of this waste stuff caught fire, and the smoke curled up through the balcony floor. A cry of "Fire!" rang through the building, and there was at once a wild dash for the doors. Some women fainted, and others stood ringing their hands helplessly. Many were trampled under foot. The greatest pressure was at the top of the steps leading from the gallery. The checktaker, an old postman named Forster - was afterwards found dead beneath the superincumbent weight of bodies. The children who tried to make their way from the gallery were trodden down, and when the theatre had been cleared nine of the young people were found dead.

Right - The Gallery Landing where the Bodies were found - - From Lloyd's Weekly, 3rd January 1892.

Rescuing the People from the Gallery - From Lloyd's Weekly, 3rd January 1892. The actors tried all they could to arrest the panic. They shouted from the Stage that there was no fire, but in the wild confusion no attention was paid to their efforts to avert a disaster. Men, women, and children rose from their seats in uncontrolled terror, and rushed madly for the doors. In the struggle that followed people were trampled under foot, but so far as can be ascertained, no one was killed in the gallery. The terrified people fought furiously for first place, and scrambled down the staircase that leads to the street in desperate confusion. It seems the ticket collector, Forster, had locked the door. Hearing the cry of "Fire!" and the scrambling over the stairs, Forster rushed to the door and opened it. Scarcely had he done so when the Crowd rushed headlong upon him, and in a moment he was thrown down, the frantic people trampling over him. It was only the few in front who thus got over the unfortunate "checker," and reached the outlet to the street. Those behind stumbled over the body and went down. Others were forced on the top of them from behind, and in a moment or two the door was blocked by a pile of human beings.

Left - Rescuing the People from the Gallery - From Lloyd's Weekly, 3rd January 1892.

The struggle was awful. Men thrust aside the weaker lads, who were thus thrown down and trodden upon in the fight. Frantic efforts were made by those behind to pass the struggling people on the ground, and as others pressed down from the stairs above, and fell in their turn, the staircase was further blocked, until people lay upon each other, as is stated by eye witnesses, to a height of 6ft. The shrieks and groans of the sufferers went up to the gallery, and added to the terrible consternation of those who saw no chance of escape by the stairs. The windows looking from the gallery into the street were smashed open to restore ventilation, and one man in his excitement sprang from a gallery window down to the roof of the shop underneath. The fall was one of about 30ft., and the man went through the roof. He was found with a broken leg and bruised. His condition, however, is not considered to be dangerous. Another man soon followed his example, jumping from another window into the street. A coat was held out below to break his fall and though it did so to some extent, he sustained painful injury.

A List of those killed in the panic at the Theatre Royal, Gateshead in 1891 - From Lloyd's Weekly, 3rd January 1892. Meantime the fire had been put out. It had been confined to a wooden Partition, and was extinguished by a few buckets of water. Mr. Turner, one of the lessees, who was taking his part, Abanazar, had without changing the costume climbed from the stage to the gallery, and was rushing among the people imploring them to retain their seats as there was no danger. Planks were passed from the stage to the pit and raised to the gallery, and by sliding down these several made their way to the pit and into the streets. While all these scenes were taking place a crowd of roughs broke into the dressing rooms of the actors and stole even their clothes.

Right - A List of those killed in the panic at the Theatre Royal, Gateshead in 1891 - From Lloyd's Weekly, 3rd January 1892.

The sad accident has created a feeling of sorrow over the neighbourhood, where it quickly became known. The catastrophe resembles in some respects that which occurred a few years ago at the Victoria hall, Sunderland, where, as the result of a panic, some 180 children were crushed to death while descending the gallery stairs.' - Lloyd's Weekly, 3rd January 1892.

Surprisingly it wasn't any time at all before the Theatre Royal was reopened after the Boxing Night Tragedy, as on Wednesday the 30th of December 1891 performances of the pantomime were resumed, although the proceeds were announced to have been given to the wife and family of the checktaker, Forster, who had died in the panic. The families of the deceased children seem to have been left out of this compensation however.

A few years later the Theatre was reconstructed and reopened as the Queen's Theatre on the 26th of December 1894. The Queens' was not very successful however, and closed shortly afterwards, and remained so until it was reopened on the 22nd of August 1898 as the Queen's Theatre of Varieties.

In 1914 the Theatre's name was changed to the Hippodrome and it continued as a home to variety shows and film presentations. But the Theatre's history caught up with it again when it was seriously damaged by fire on the 19th of December 1922 and never reopened. The Theatre was subsequently demolished and a Woolworth's store was built on the site.

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

 

The Palace Theatre, Sunderland Road, Gateshead

Formerly - Black's Palace

The Palace Theatre was situated on Sunderland Road, Gateshead and originally opened as Black's Palace on the 27th of December 1909. The Theatre was operated by George Black at first, as a cine variety Theatre with a small stage, 30 foot deep, with just two dressing rooms. In 1911 however, the Theatre's stage was enlarged so that it could put on grander variety shows.

In 1919 the Theatre was taken over by the Thompson and Collins Circuit of Theatres and was renamed the Palace Theatre. This lasted for 10 years until it was taken over by Gaumont British and began to screen its first talking pictures in May 1930. The Theatre then went on to screen 3D and Cinemascope Films.

Eventually owned by the Rank Organisation the Theatre was closed in September 1960 with the last screening of 'Up the Creek' being shown on the 24th of that month. The Theatre was then sold in 1962 and became a warehouse.

Some of the information for this Theatre was gleaned from the excellent Cinema Treasures Website.

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

 

Tudor's Empire Circus, Sunderland Road, Gateshead

Later - Tudor's Circus of Varieties / The Standard Theatre

Tudor's Empire Circus was situated on Sunderland Road, Gateshead. It was a wooden construction capable of holding around 2,000 people and opened in Gateshead in 1894 after having been dismantled in South Shields where it had been running for the previous two seasons. William Tudor had a well known Jockey Act in which he performed juggling whilst riding a horse bare back, and had already run his own Traveling Circus in Durham and Stockton-on-Tees in 1891. The seasons seem to have usually been for three weeks in each location. By 1894 Tudor had Circuses in both Blyth, and Durham although he had had a fight on his hands when he tried to open in Blyth as reported in the ERA of the 28th of May 1892:-

A CIRCUS BATTLE

Mr William Tudor has been fighting a stiff battle with the Cowpen Local Board in regard to his new circus at Blyth, and has, we are glad to say, come off victorious. The new building is a wooden one, and after much discussion the board had ordered Mr Tudor to pull it down. At the last meeting of the board Captain Whiteman presented a memorial signed by over 200 ratepayers and property owners, who expressed their conviction that the circus constituted a great boon to the inhabitants of the district, and strongly deprecated the intention of the board to spend the ratepayers' money in what they regarded as a questionable prosecution of a person legitimately catering for the amusement and entertainment of the public. The reading of the memorial was followed by a resolution, moved by Captain Whiteman, authorising the rescinding of the motion giving the surveyor power to prosecute Mr Tudor.

Ultimately the resolution was carried by a large majority on the condition that Mr Tudor obtained a certificate from the City Engineer of Newcastle-on-Tyne, as to the safety of the building.

A summons having been issued against Mr Tudor, the matter came up before the Blyth Bench on Monday, when the Clerk to the Board (Mr M. W. Sidney) informed their worships that the board had decided not to proceed, and the case was accordingly struck out. - The ERA, 28th of May 1892.

 

An advertisement for the Opening of Tudor's Circus, Gateshead - From The Stage, 11th October 1894.William Tudor opened his Circus in Gateshead on Monday the 29th of October 1894.

Right - An advertisement for the Opening of Tudor's Circus, Gateshead - From The Stage, 11th October 1894.

The ERA reported on the opening of the Gateshead Circus in their 3rd of November 1894 edition saying:- 'The inhabitants of Gateshead are indebted to the enterprise of Mr William Tudor for this latest addition to their not too numerous places of entertainment, which was opened for the season on Monday. The building is a large, substantial wooden erection, capable of holding about 2,000 persons, and is situated in Sunderland-road. The interior is prettily decorated and well lighted, and the seating accommodation is all that could be desired.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Gateshead were present at the initial performance, which was in every way highly successful, and the clever and varied entertainment was received with loudly expressed manifestations of approval. Mdlle. Becket was the first to appear, and proved an expert equestrienne. The Locals were the next "turn," and performed some clever hand-balancing and tumbling feats. Mr Wm. Tudor introduced his high-leaping pony Billy and the horse Black Eagle. Both animals are trained by Mr Tudor, and the precise manner in which they went through their paces reflected great credit on that gentleman. Mr Clarence Welby Cooke in his daring act of horsemanship, "The Newmarket Jockey," fairly brought down the house, and Nemo's musical performance was applauded. The charming presence of Miss Rebecca Daniels soon captivated the large audience, and her clever barebacked trick act well deserved the applause with which it was greeted. The Stellios merit praise for their clever performance on the flying trapeze. Wallacini was well to the fore in some novel acrobatic work, and Mr Rowley Harrison, a local comedian, created plenty of laughter by his witticisms.

The acting-management of the circus is in the hands of Mr C. H. Reed. It only remains to be said the whole entertainment was well managed, and if Mr Tudor can maintain the high order of excellence which marked his opening performance, there can he no doubt but that he will have every reason to congratulate himself on the pecuniary results at the end of the season.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 3rd of November 1894.

The article above suggests that the Circus would be very successful but the following year William Tudor announced his intention to alter the building by converting it into a Variety Theatre. The Circus closed on Saturday the 9th of February 1895 and was then reconstructed and reopened just two weeks later as 'Tudor's Circus of Varieties' with a reduced capacity of 1,500 people. The ERA reported on the reopening in their 30th of March 1895 edition saying:- 'The alterations which were necessary to adapt this building to the variety form of entertainment which Mr Tudor intends to carry on here have now been completed. These consist principally of the erection of a well-constructed stage and proscenium, and a rearrangement of the seating accommodation. A fairly good combination has been got together for the opening week, and the large audience assembled on Monday augured well for the future success of the venture. The bill is headed by Mr Arthur Farren, whose female impersonations are entirely successful; the Merry Muriels are well received in their duets and dances; Blitz performs some clever feats of plate manipulation; and the dancing of the Sisters Armytage is admired. George Erno's Combination in a comic sketch; Mons. Le Clair's troupe of fox terriers; J. W. Rayne, vocalist; Mabel Blanche, transformation dancer; and Carl Norman, song and dance artist, complete the programme. The band is well conducted by Mr Percy Woodroffe, who has been appointed musical director.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 30th of March 1895.

This venture seems to have been unsuccessful as by August the same year Tudor had put the Theatre up for sale, see cutting from the ERA below.

A Sale Notice for Tudor's Circus of Varieties, Gateshead published in the ERA, 12th October 1895

Above - A Sale Notice for Tudor's Circus of Varieties, Gateshead published in the ERA, 12th October 1895.

Whether the Theatre sold or not at the time is unknown but it was later taken over by James Lovett and renamed the Standard Theatre, opening on the 3rd of August 1896. Lovett was also the proprietor of the Queen's Theatre, Chester-Le-Street at the time. The ERA reported on the opening of the Standard Theatre in their 8th of August 1896 edition saying:-

STANDARD THEATRE (LATE TUDOR'S CIRCUS)
Lessee and Manager, Mr James Lovett.

'This place of entertainment was reopened on Monday under the management of Mr Jas. Lovett, the attraction being Mr Lloyd Clarance's vaudeville coterie, which includes Sardou, assisted by Mdlle. Sardou, illusionists; Knotella, contortionist; Jenny Belmore, serio; Will Ford, comedian; Bretton in his skating act; Marie Rivers, balladist and serio; Walter Brambam, comic vocalist; The Mays (James and Jenny), entertainers and dancers; and Mr Lloyd Clarance and Miss Kate Clarance, humourists and vocalists.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 8th of August 1896.

The Standard Theatre opened on the 3rd of August 1896 but details after this are extremely sketchy. There is mention of a Dramatic Season opening with Charles Fisher and Company in 'My Sweetheart' in late August 1896, and the Theatre appears to have still been open as late as 1899 as there is a mention of a boxing match being presented there whilst Thomas Landreth was proprietor, but after this the Theatre disappears completely from newspaper reports and is presumed to have been demolished.

There is some interesting information and a plan of the Gateshead Circus online here.

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

 

The Alexandra Music Hall, Corner of Oakwellgate Chare and High Street, Gateshead

The Alexandra Music Hall was opened in Oakwellgate Chare on the 14th of November 1870 and was very short lived due to an incident which occurred there in 1871. The Theatre was Managed by a Mr. Edwins at the time, and on the 2nd of February 1871 a performance featuring Laura de Braham's Troup of four dancers was staged there in a production entitled 'The Can Can'. Unfortunately for the cast Gateshead's Mayor, J. M. Redmayne, who incidently is the Great Great Grandfather of the Oscar winning actor Eddie Redmayne; and the Chief Constable, Elliot, were both in the audience, and were very disapproving of what they witnessed. The Mayor said that he had never seen 'anything more beastly' and the Chief Constable judged it 'immoral'. The production was officially banned, and Mr. Edwins had to apologise for the cancellation of the show and offer everyone their money back.

The Alexandra closed as a result, only four months after opening, and the building then became a place of worship for the Gateshead Salvation Army and Baptists. The building was demolished in 1954.

Some of the above information was kindly sent in by Richard F. Stevenson from his research for his book (co-written with Jo Bath) 'The Gateshead Book of Days' availiable at Amazon.co.uk here.

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

 

The People's Music Hall, Bottle Bank, Gateshead

The People's Music Hall was situated in Bottle Bank, Gateshead and could accommodate 400 people when it was opened by George Handyside in 1874. The Hall closed a few years later however, in 1880, and was demolished in 1924. George Handyside would go on to build the Handyside Arcade in Newcastle.

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Webb's Theatre, Gateshead

Webb's Theatre is said to have opened in 1896 and closed in 1906, according to the Theatre's Trust Guide, who also say that it was demolished in 1968. I have been unable to find any more information on this Theatre however. Perhaps you can help.

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Some of the archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.

 

You may find the following pages from this site of interest: