Arthur Lloyd.co.uk
The Music Hall and Theatre History Site
Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

Theatres, Halls, and Cinemas in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Royal Aquarium / Hollywood - Windmill Theatre - Gem Theatre - Theatre Royal - Regal / ABC / Canon Cinema - Hippodrome - Regent Theatre / Stars - Empire Theatre - Britannia Pier Theatre / Pavilion Theatre - Arthur Lloyd in Yarmouth

See also in this area - The Gorleston Pavilion

The Windmill Theatre, Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth

Formerly - The Gem Theatre

The Windmill Theatre, Great Yarmouth in 2009 - Courtesy Paul Willetts.

Above - The Windmill Theatre, Great Yarmouth in 2009 - Courtesy Paul Willetts

The Windmill Theatre, Great Yarmouth in 2007 - Courtesy Charles Bowman.The Windmill Theatre in Great Yarmouth was originally built as the Gem Theatre and is one of Britain's earliest surviving Cine Variety buildings.

The Theatre was designed by Arthur S. Hewitt, who also designed the Empire Theatre in the town the same year. The Windmill was built for C.B. Cochran and opened on the 4th of July 1908 with the odd proviso that men and women had to sit on opposite sides of the auditorium.

The Theatre was built as a Cine Variety Theatre and in the early decades of the 20th Century was providing the number two variety bills in Great Yarmouth, and later, in 1948, when it was renamed the Windmill Theatre, it was regularly used for summer shows, a policy which continued into the 1960s.

Right - The Windmill Theatre, Great Yarmouth in 2007 - Courtesy Charles Bowman.

Theatre use did continue into the early 1980s but eventually the building went over to use as a children's play area, and later became known as the Odditorium which was an exhibition of weird and wonderful things similar to 'Ripley's Believe it or Not' exhibitions, although there was now a Cinema in the upper part of the building.

Currently the Theatre is in use as an Amusement Arcade and miniature Golf Course, and although the building is Grade II* Listed much of its internal decoration is hidden by false walls and hangings.

For some internal photos of parts of the auditorium see here, here, here, here, and here.

Much of the above information 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 Regent Theatre, 85-87 Regent Road, Great Yarmouth

Later - The Regent Cine Theatre / Top Rank Bingo / Mecca Bingo / Stars Showbar and Nightclub

The Regent Theatre, Yarmouth - From the Supplement to The Cinema News and Property Gazette of July 31st 1924

Above - The Regent Theatre, Yarmouth - From the Supplement to The Cinema News and Property Gazette of July 31st 1924.

The auditorium of the Regent Theatre, Great Yarmouth during its Bingo years - Courtesy Paul Willetts.The Regent Theatre, Great Yarmouth, opened on the 26th of December 1914 as a Cine Variety Theatre and was designed by the architect Francis Burdett Ward, and constructed by Crotch & Son. Included in the original design was a striking restaurant with wood paneling and ornamental plasterwork which had its own separate entrance on street level.

Right - The auditorium of the Regent Theatre, Great Yarmouth during its Bingo years - Courtesy Paul Willetts.

The Cinema News and Property Gazette carried a photograph of the Regent Theatre in their July 31st 1924 edition, (shown above) and a short article about the Theatre's Iron Canopy, saying:- 'The employment of artistic iron canopies for the dual purpose of decorative effect and the provision of protection for waiting queues is becoming more and more characteristic of the great super-cinemas. At one time the use of such canopies was regarded as something of a luxury; to-day it is looked upon rather as a necessity. But the erection of such metal and glass structures is a specialised art.

Our illustration is of the Regent Theatre, Yarmouth, and it will be noted that the canopy is of a particularly attractive description, and some beautiful ornamental ironwork is introduced. The canopy was made and erected by the Lea Foundry Co., of Bromley-by-Bow, who specialise in this class of light construction engineering, either from architects' designs or their own. Steel staircases and fire escapes for cinemas are other specialities of the Lea Foundry Co.' - The Cinema News and Property Gazette, July 31st 1924.

A Google StreetView Image which shows the Regent Theatre to the right of the image - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image which shows the Regent Theatre to the right of the image - Click to Interact

The auditorium of the Regent Theatre, Great Yarmouth during its Bingo years - Courtesy Paul Willetts.The Regent Theatre was taken over by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) in 1929. Surprisingly this Theatre, despite changes of use over the years including its Bingo incarnation, which began in 1982, have not altered the fine auditorium which was decorated in the Louis XVI style on two levels, stalls and circle with boxes, and seated 1,679.

The Theatre's stage house, 30 foot deep, is still intact and although there is a modern proscenium covering up the original, the building could be reverted to theatre use again without too much trouble given the will and finance. Consequently the Theatre's Grade II Listing which was applied to the building during its Bingo conversion in 1982 is well deserved.

Right - The auditorium of the Regent Theatre, Great Yarmouth during its Bingo years - Courtesy Paul Willetts.

Bingo closed at the Theatre in December 2011 but in 2014, after being boarded up for 3 years, the building was restored and reopened, on the 12th of April 2014, as the 'Stars Showbar and Night Club'. The venue, which was billed as a bar in the daytime and a cabaret bar and nightclub at night, had a capacity of 1,000 people including VIP booths and Boxes, and standing areas, and its website said that it planned 'to stage Singers, Dancers, Bands, Comedy Nights, Wrestling, Boxing Matches, Pantomimes, Ladies Nights, Plays, Cabarets, Burlesque Nights, and Named Acts, catering for all ages.'

In April 2016 however, the venue appears to be closed and its future use is currently unknown.

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

The Theatre Royal, Regent Road, Great Yarmouth

The Theatre Royal, Great Yarmouth, was originally constructed in 1778 and opened on the 4th of December that year with a prologue spoken by a Mr. Griffith. The Theatre was remodeled and almost entirely rebuilt in 1820, and appearing on its stage over the years were, amongst others, Kemble, Batley, Edmund Kean, Bellamy, Fisher, Charles Kean, Charles Matthew, Sims Reeves, and John Hollingshead's Gaiety Company.

The Theatre was again renovated and redecorated in 1869 by the Lessee W. Sydney and his manager J. F. Young, and reopened with a production of 'The Wife's Secret.' However, in 1888 the Theatre was offered for sale by auction.

In 1892 the Theatre Royal was extensively altered by the renowned Theatre Architect, Frank Matcham. The ERA reported on the Theatre's reconstruction in their 20th of February 1892 edition saying: 'At this theatre extensive alterations and additions are being carried out under the direction of Mr Frank Matcham, architect. New exits have been made from all parts of the theatre. The ground-floor will he fitted up with stalls with upholstered seats, and from here two separate exits to the side streets are made. The dress-circle has now two separate exits. The upper circle has been greatly enlarged, and a wide promenade added, with retiring-rooms and new saloons; this circle has now two separate exits. The gallery seating has been rearranged, and this part of the auditorium has been supplied with two separate exits. The principal structural alterations are near the stage end of the building, where four new shops have been erected. New dressing-rooms and property-rooms have been built, and every convenience for the artists has been provided. A new pay-office and manager's room have been built at one side of the vestibule, and a refreshment saloon at the other. Hydrants are to be fitted up, and the theatre will be entirely redecorated, the ceiling being panelled with mouldings and rich scrolled ornaments. The fronts of the circles and gallery are to be ornamented with raised fibrous plaster enrichments, and two new draped entrances to the stalls are to be formed under circular-fronted and canopied private boxes, handsomely decorated. The present side entry doors in the proscenium will be ornamented with mouldings, scrolls, &c., and draped with plush. A new act-drop and plush tableau curtains will he hung. The gas arrangements and fittings will be rearranged, and the whole of the auditorium and entrances artistically decorated and upholstered. The work is being pushed on rapidly, and will be finished in a few weeks.

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 20th February 1892.

The Theatre was eventually demolished and a new Theatre, the Regal, was built on the site in 1934.

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

The Regal Cinema, Regent Road, Great Yarmouth

Later - The ABC Theatre / Cannon Cinema

A photograph of the former Regal Cinema, Great Yarmouth, during the run of the Les Dennis 'All Laughter Show' in 1986 - Courtesy Martin Hough

Above - A photograph of the former Regal Cinema, Great Yarmouth, during the run of the Les Dennis 'All Laughter Show' in 1986. This was the last summer show to be staged at the Theatre, under the ownership of Cannon Cinemas. Also on the Bill were Roy Walker, Vince Hill, the Toby Tubs, Pavlovs Puppets, Ray Cornells, and Julie Hedley - Courtesy Martin Hough.

A Programme for 'The Dick Emery Show' at the ABC Theatre, Great Yarmouth in the 1970s - Courtesy Catherine Wall.The Regal was built as a large Cinema with stage facilities on the site of the former Theatre Royal, Great Yarmouth. The Theatre was designed by F. Howard and T. Darbyshire of the architectural firm Yates Cook and Derbyshire, and opened on the 1st of January 1934 with the films 'The Private Life of Henry VIII' and 'The Air Hostess.'

Although built primarily as a Cinema it did stage various live shows especially in the summer, and then later in its life it became host to a variety of music events and pop concerts.

The Regal was taken over by Union Cinemas in 1936 and then from 1937 it was run by ABC, and then renamed the ABC Theatre in 1961.

Right - A Programme for 'The Dick Emery Show' at the ABC Theatre, Great Yarmouth in the 1970s - Courtesy Catherine Wall.

By the late 1980s the Theatre was being run by Cannon Cinemas but closed in May 1988 with a final showing of the film 'Eddie Murphy Raw'. The Theatre was then demolished and shops were built on the site.

A Programme for 'The Dick Emery Show' at the ABC Theatre, Great Yarmouth in the 1970s - Courtesy Catherine Wall.

Above - A Programme for 'The Dick Emery Show' at the ABC Theatre, Great Yarmouth in the 1970s - Courtesy Catherine Wall.

Above - A Selection of Programme Covers for the ABC, Great Yarmouth - Courtesy Martin Clark.

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

The Hippodrome, St George’s Road, Great Yarmouth

The Hippodrome in 2007 - Courtesy Charles Bowman

Above - The Great Yarmouth Hippodrome in 2007 - Courtesy Charles Bowman

A postcard of the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome sent in 1917.The Great Yarmouth Hippodrome was built by the Circus showman George Gilbert in 1903 and designed by the Architect R. S. Cockrill. Since it opened the venue has been used for Circus with water spectacles, variety shows, Cinema, and Cine Variety, and during the war years as shooting range for the military.

Right - A postcard of the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome which was posted in 1917.

The Theatres Trust says of the Hippodrome: 'A building of outstanding importance. There are only two purpose-built permanent circuses in Britain still in full working order and probably only four or five operational pre-1950 circuses in the world... The Yarmouth example, like the Blackpool Tower Circus, is a true Hippodrome, whose traditional sawdust ring can be flooded for water spectacles.'

An early postcard depicting the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome.The Great Yarmouth Hippodrome has an auditorium formed into an arena with seating situated around a central ring of some 42 foot and because of its excellent acoustics it is also an ideal home for orchestral concerts.

The Grade II* Listed building also still has its original stables and outbuildings and can accommodate 1,200 people.

Left - An early postcard depicting the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome.

You may like to visit the Hippodrome's own website here.

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

The Great Yarmouth Hippodrome in 2009 - Courtesy Paul Willetts

Above - The Great Yarmouth Hippodrome in 2009 - Courtesy Paul Willetts

The Empire Theatre, Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth

The Empire Theatre, Great Yarmouth in 2007 - Courtesy Charles Bowman

Above - The Empire Theatre, Great Yarmouth in 2007 - Courtesy Charles Bowman.

The Empire Theatre, Great Yarmouth was built in 1908 and designed by the Architect A. S. Hewitt, who also designed the Windmill Theatre in the town the same year.

The Theatre's auditorium was built on two levels, Stalls and one Horseshoe shaped Circle which curves round to almost reach the proscenium.

Right - A detail of the facade of the Empire Theatre, Great Yarmouth in 2009 - Courtesy A detail of the facade of the Empire Theatre, Great Yarmouth in 2009 - Courtesy Paul Willetts.Paul Willetts.

The Theatre was equipped with dressing rooms and a band room under the stage which was 40 foot wide by 48 foot deep, and had a proscenium opening of 25 foot, and a fly tower with grid and fly rails which are all still in existence although the building is no longer used as a Theatre.

For a while the Theatre was being used as as a nightclub called Zen until that closed down in 2009. Since then it has been left empty and unused and apparently is full of pigeon mess, and the downstairs area (most recently used as a cocktail bar) has been repeatedly flooded.

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

The Royal Aquarium, Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth

Later - The Aquarium Theatre / 3 in 1 / Royalty Cinema / Hollywood

The Great Yarmouth Aquarium in August 1909 - Courtesy Colin Tooke.

Above - The Great Yarmouth Aquarium in August 1909 - Courtesy Colin Tooke.

The Aquarium, Britannia Pier, and the revolving tower Great Yarmouth - From a postcard c.1920sThe Royal Aquarium, situated on Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth, was designed by the Architects John Norton & Philip E. Masey and opened on Tuesday the 5th of September 1876. The first stone of the building had been laid on Saturday the 9th of October 1875 and it had been hoped that it would open six months later but delays with the foundations for the construction meant that it was almost a year before the building was completed.

Right - The Aquarium, Britannia Pier, and the Revolving Tower at Great Yarmouth - From a postcard c.1920s.

Originally an Aquarium for the display of fish, with a skating rink on its roof, the building was later converted for theatrical use by the Great Yarmouth Architects Bottle & Olley at a cost of £10,000, and reopened as the Aquarium Theatre on Monday the 2nd of July 1883.

An Advertisement for Operatic, Dramatic, and Variety Entertainments at the Great Yarmouth Aquarium in 1883 - From The Eastern Daily Press, September 4th 1883.The conversion work had been started on the 2nd of October 1882, and consisted of the construction of a 'Grand Hall', 115 feet long by 60 feet wide, within the walls of the original building. The roof was also raised so that the height was now some 44 feet instead of the 17 foot height of the previous building.

Left - An Advertisement for Operatic, Dramatic, and Variety Entertainments at the Great Yarmouth Aquarium in 1883 - From The Eastern Daily Press, September 4th 1883.

The aquarium's fish tanks were retained in promenades along the sides of the ground floor of the new auditorium, and behind were further promenades for the sale of 'Fancy Goods'. Promenades were also constructed above the stalls on either side of the auditorium and at the northern end. At the southern end the proscenium and stage were situated, the stage itself being 60 foot wide by 40 foot deep, with a 33 foot proscenium opening, which could be reduced to 26 feet for dramatic performances by the use of sliding panels.

Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed at the Royal Aquarium Theatre on the 16th of August 1886 in a variety show which included The Pinands, Saroni, The Teemo Troupe and Arthur's wife Katty King. Arthur performed there again on the 1st of August 1887 with The Lawrence Sisters, The Phydoras and Herr Limner.

Listings in contemporary newspapers for the Aquarium Theatre dry up in August 1925. Films had already been shown as part of the variety shows there since 1914 and by the mid 1920s it had gone over to full time Cinema use, although still under the Royal Aquarium name, with seating for 1,500.

A Google StreetView Image of the former Royal Aquarium, Yarmouth, today Hollywood Nightclub - Click to Interact.A smaller Theatre known as the Little Theatre was later constructed in the Aquarium's former restaurant at the rear of the building, but this was also converted into a Cinema, with 264 seats, in January 1970.

Right - A Google StreetView Image of the former Royal Aquarium, Yarmouth, today Hollywood Nightclub - Click to Interact.

For a while the main building was converted into a Disco called 3 in 1, and then in July 1982 it was back in Cinema use again as the Royalty Cinema with seating for 1,180. Today the building is in use as a Nightclub called Hollywood, and the building also has five small Cinemas. Amazingly parts of the original glass tank fronts of the Royal Aquarium are said to still remain behind the walls of the main auditorium.

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

The Britannia Pier Theatre , Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth

Formerly - The Pavilion Theatre

A Google StreetView Image of the Britannia Pier and Theatre, Great Yarmouth - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Britannia Pier and Theatre, Great Yarmouth - Click to Interact

A Programme for Norman Evans in 'Good Evans' at the Pavilion Theatre on the Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth - Courtesy Roy Cross.The Britannia Pier was first constructed in 1857 by A. W. Morant and opened on July the 13th the following year, 1858. The Pier was 700 foot long when it first opened but this was reduced after a collision with a ship in 1859 and storm damage in 1868. The Pier was later demolished in 1899 and a new Pier was constructed to replace it, designed by Joseph and Arthur Mayoh, and opening in 1901. This new Pier was longer than the first at 810 foot, and it also housed a Pavilion. The Pavilion was replaced in in 1902 with a larger structure but this was destroyed by a fire in 1909. Another Pavilion, designed by Douglass & Arnott, was opened in 1910 but this too was destroyed by fire in April 1914. Yet another Pavilion was then quickly constructed on the Pier, opening in July 1914, and again being destroyed by fire in 1954. The Pavilion was replaced again in 1958 and housed a Theatre called the Pavilion Theatre which is today called the Britannia Pier Theatre.

Right and Below - A Programme for Norman Evans in 'Good Evans' at the Pavilion Theatre on the Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth - Courtesy Roy Cross.

You may like to visit the Britannia Pier's own website here.

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

A Programme for Norman Evans in 'Good Evans' at the Pavilion Theatre on the Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth - Courtesy Roy Cross.

Above - A Programme for Norman Evans in 'Good Evans' at the Pavilion Theatre on the Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth - Courtesy Roy Cross.

Arthur Lloyd in Yarmouth

Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed in Great Yarmouth in 1870, most probably at the Theatre Royal, and then again in 1886 and 1887 at the Aquarium - The ERA writes:- "Mr Arthur Lloyd will Commence his Annual Tour of the Provinces on Monday, 15th August, at Yarmouth, with a Company of Select Artistes. Elegant Stage Fittings, Costly Dresses &c. No expense spared to render this the Best Entertainment travelling." - The Era.

Notice in the ERA of the 14th of August 1870 - Mr. Arthur Lloyd is accompanied by a select company of artistes, and will visit the following towns the ensuing week: - Yarmouth, 15th, 16th, and 17th; Lynn, 18th; Boston, 19th; and Great Grimsby, 20th. Business Manager, Mr W. Morton. - Courtesy Emmi Birch.

Above - A Notice in the ERA of the 14th of August 1870 - Mr. Arthur Lloyd is accompanied by a select company of artistes, and will visit the following towns the ensuing week: - Yarmouth, 15th, 16th, and 17th; Lynn, 18th; Boston, 19th; and Great Grimsby, 20th. Business Manager, Mr W. Morton. - Courtesy Emmi Birch.

Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.

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