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The Olympia Theatre, West Derby Road, Everton, Liverpool

Liverpool Theatres Index

A Google StreetView Image of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool - Click to Interact

 

Variety Programme for the Liverpool Olympia Theatre on March the 2nd 1914. The Olympia Theatre in Liverpool's West Derby Road, Everton was built for Moss Empires Ltd., and designed by the renowned Theatre Architect Frank Matcham. The Theatre opened on Monday the 24th of April 1905. The auditorium was was huge and built on four levels, Stalls and three Balconies, and could accommodate nearly 4,000 people, whilst the stage had a 48' wide Proscenium, and was 41' deep, with a height of 68'. The Theatre's Arena also had a vast water tank which could be filled with 80,000 gallons of water for spectacular aquatic features.

Right - A Variety Programme for the Liverpool Olympia Theatre on March the 2nd 1914. On the Bill were Whit Cunliffe, Eight Lancashire Lads, the American Bioscope, and the play 'The Forest Fire' by Langdon McCormick.

A Plaque situated on the exterior of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool, dedicated to its Architect, Frank Matcham - Courtesy Alfred Mason. The Stage Newspaper reported on the new Liverpool Olympia Theatre in their 27th of April 1905 edition saying:- 'An event which marks a further stage in the progress of the music hall in Liverpool took place last Thursday, when a private inspection was made of the new Olympia. This is the latest edition of the modern variety theatre erected for the Moss Empires, Limited, from the designs of Mr. Frank Matcham.

Left - A Plaque situated on the exterior of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool, dedicated to its Architect, Frank Matcham - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

The building stands upon the site of the old almshouses of the Licensed Victuallers' Association, running from West Derby Road to Boaler Street. The building is quite detached, and occupies a most commanding position. The comfort and convenience of the public, seem to have been arranged upon a system at once ingenious and complete. Springing from an artistic and picturesque kiosk at an angle in Boaler Street are three ample reception rooms, leading to the popular parts of the house. In these will gather the public half an hour previous to the advertised time of the performance, thus minimising the open-air queue system. These rooms are said to accommodate the holding capacity of those parts of the auditorium to which each separately leads. They are so arranged that the outgoing audience of the "first house" leave the theatre without meeting the incoming "second house." There are no "early doors," nor are booking fees charged for any part of the place...

 

The Liverpool Olympia Theatre in August 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason

Above - The Liverpool Olympia Theatre in August 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason

The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt .

Above - The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt who says 'The following photos were taken when the Theatre was owned by a Greek gentleman who was using it as a wrestling, pop music, banqueting, cabaret, and circus venue. The stalls floor was flat, incorporating the flat stage area, with two staircases built to enable patrons to descend from the front of the circle to the stall dance floor level. We were allowed to wander wherever we liked, and I got onto the old fly floor and also outside onto the roof. I also went under the stage area and saw the circular water tank which was under the circus ring originally (like the Hippodrome in London).'

 

...In the auditorium such a sense of luxury pervades all parts that the theatrical epicure, from the humble gallery, etc., to the lordly occupier of a private box, has no grounds for a grumble. For twopence the "god" in the gallery has an upholstered crimson-cushioned seat in a noble gallery which uninterruptedly sweeps in one magnificent crescent from side to side of the theatre walls. Tier by tier, private boxes, arena, and orchestra stalls, a sixpenny grand circle, with tip-up seats one cannot go wrong in one's ideas of comfort wherever he may elect to sit. From his seat the visitor's eyes will fix restfully upon any part of the house and find a chaste, subdued, and regally artistic, system of decoration...

The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt.

The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt. The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt.

Above - The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt.

...The mechanical contrivances are all that modern engineering, in all its necessary branches, can devise, and in this, as in all other features of theatrical building, the summit of perfection seems to have been reached. The very mat on the arena, which has hitherto occupied the labours of about twenty-six men, is expeditiously and simply drawn upon a roller by touching an electric button. The arena itself sinks by means of a similar contrivance, and 80,000 gallons of water takes its place, ready for any aquatic display which may have been arranged. The stage rises, falls, and moves backwards and forwards at the will of the electrician. There is also a sliding roof, which will be moved for cooling and ventilating the house, so that the "second" house will find the same clear air and refreshing atmosphere enjoyed by the earlier audience...

 

The Liverpool Olympia Theatre in August 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason

Above - The Liverpool Olympia Theatre in August 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason

The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt.

The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt. The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt.

Above - The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt.

 

A 1907 postcard for the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool....The exits are so numerous and splendidly arranged that anything in the nature of a panic is reduced, as far as human agency can make it, to the absolutely impossible; the huge building, with its seating accommodation for nearly 4,000 people, being capable of emptying itself in about three to four minutes without the slightest confusion. It is certainly one of the most magnificent variety theatres in the kingdom, and is, we should say, the best equipped and most wonderfully contrived of any. Standing on a commanding junction, it presents a bold and handsome appearance, and interiorly is a perfect spectacle of decorative taste and personal comfort.

Right - A 1907 postcard for the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool.

The atttendants, men and boys, are arrayed in striking and handsome liveries. Wherever one turns one's eyes he is met with evidences of the most lavish display. Not only has the management been prodigal, but perfect taste has been expended upon every corner of the building, and Liverpool can boast herself in the possession of one of the most, if not the most sumptuous palaces of pleasure in the United Kingdom.

The opening of the theatre took place on Monday, and an account of the doings of the artists will be found in the usual column. But before leaving the subject, mention should be made of the possibilities of the stage. With an opening of 48 ft. and a very considerable depth, there is no modern spectacle that cannot find ample accommodation upon it, and displays of the most elaborate character can be arranged with the most effective results...

 

The Rear Elevation of the Liverpool Olympia Theatre in August 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason

Above - The Rear Elevation of the Liverpool Olympia Theatre in August 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason

The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt.

Above - The Auditorium of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool in the early 2000s - Courtesy David Garratt.

 

...We shall in time become accustomed to having the ordinary turns given out to us across the arena. At present one feels "a long way off" [from] the artist, and we do not realise why there should be an intervening blankness between ourselves and the performers upon the stage. To mitigate this feeling, the management has florally decorated the arena most beautifully, and no doubt in time we shall get quite en rapport with the artists.

The scheme of decoration is the familiar cream and gold, with bronze wall fillings. The ceiling of the auditorium is most chastely and artistically treated. The entrance-hall and vestibules have also been delightfully treated in perfect harmonies of tones and colouring.

For the opening Mr. Frank Parker came specially from London to superintend the stage and arena, and under his expert and skilled hands everything went off without a hitch. Messrs. Moss, Stoll, and Allen were also present, as was Mr. Bennett, of the literary and press bureau of the proprietary. The resident manager of Olympia is Mr. Alan W. Young, who on Monday was most assiduous in his work of managing the enormous crowds seeking admission, and whose courtesy through a very trying time made one's visit pleasant and comfortable.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Stage, 27th of April 1905.

 

The Olympia Theatre, Liverpool during the run of 'Mexico', billed as 'The most sensational water production ever produced by Mr. Albert Hengler' - Courtesy Caroline Fildes

Above - The Olympia Theatre, Liverpool during the run of 'Mexico', billed as 'The most sensational water production ever produced by Mr. Albert Hengler' - Courtesy Caroline Fildes whose ancestor Frank Johnstone was property manager at the Olympia at the time.

The Typhoon set from 'Mexico' at the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool, billed as 'The most sensational water production ever produced by Mr. Albert Hengler' - Courtesy Caroline Fildes.

Above - The Typhoon set from 'Mexico' at the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool, billed as 'The most sensational water production ever produced by Mr. Albert Hengler' - Courtesy Caroline Fildes whose ancestor Frank Johnstone was property manager at the Olympia at the time.

A scene from 'Mexico' at the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool, billed as 'The most sensational water production ever produced by Mr. Albert Hengler' - Courtesy Caroline Fildes

Above - A scene from 'Mexico' at the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool, billed as 'The most sensational water production ever produced by Mr. Albert Hengler' - Courtesy Caroline Fildes whose ancestor Frank Johnstone was property manager at the Olympia at the time.

The stage of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool on the day of the Coronation of George V on June the 22nd 1911 - Courtesy Caroline Fildes.

Above - The stage of the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool on the day of the Coronation of George V on June the 22nd 1911 - Courtesy Caroline Fildes whose ancestor Frank Johnstone was property manager at the Olympia at the time.

'The Motor Chase - 'The Accident', in a scene from an unknown production at the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool - Courtesy Caroline Fildes.

Above - 'The Motor Chase - 'The Accident', in a scene from an unknown production at the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool - Courtesy Caroline Fildes whose ancestor Frank Johnstone was property manager at the Olympia at the time.

A scene from an unknown production at the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool - Courtesy Caroline Fildes.

Above - A scene from an unknown production at the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool - Courtesy Caroline Fildes whose ancestor Frank Johnstone was property manager at the Olympia at the time.

Postcard showing the Olympia Theatre, LiverpoolThe Olympia Theatre opened on Monday the 24th of April 1905 but was converted into a Cinema just 20 years later in 1925, and was even used as a Naval Depot during the second world war. More recently the Olympia Theatre saw service as a Bingo Hall, and a Discotheque.

However, the Theatre is today back in use again occasionally for various forms of live entertainment and is sometimes even used as a Circus venue, as originally intended when it opened nearly one hundred years ago in 1905.

Right - A Postcard showing the Olympia Theatre, Liverpool.

The Olympia Theatre is today a Grade II Listed building. Built as a Circus and Variety Theatre it is a rare survivor of its type in the country. To see a 360 degree view of the auditorium today click here.

You may like to visit the Liverpool Olympia Theatre's own website here.

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

 

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