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The Ardwick Empire Theatre, Higher Ardwick and Hyde Road, Ardwick Green, Manchester

Later - The New Manchester Hippodrome

Manchester Theatres Index

An early postcard showing the Ardwick Empire Theatre, Manchester.

Above - An early postcard showing the Ardwick Empire Theatre, Manchester.

Theatreshire Books  - Click to View Inventory

A Music Hall Programme for the Ardwick Empire for the 2nd of September 1912. The Ardwick Empire Theatre was constructed in 1904 as a large Variety Theatre for the Australian born Theatre owner and manager Oswald Stoll. It was situated on the corner of Higher Ardwick and Hyde Road, Ardwick Green, Manchester, and was directly opposite the much later Apollo Theatre, built in 1938, today known as the O2apollo.

The Ardwick Empire was designed by the renowned Theatre Architect Frank Matcham with internal decorations by De Jonge and Company of London, and opened on Monday the 18th of July 1904 with a variety show headed by the Fred Karno Company.

Right - A Music Hall Programme for the Ardwick Empire for the 2nd of September 1912. More images of this programme are displayed below.

An advertisement carried in the Athletic News on the 25th of July 1904, shown below, stated that the cost of building the Theatre on a freehold site had been about £45,000, and that the Company intended to run the Theatre on a Twice Nightly two hour Variety show basis, with the first show starting at 6.50 and ending at 8.50, and the second starting 10 minutes later at 9pm, and finishing at 11pm. Quite an exhausting schedule for its artistes, and staff, with the second house audience being held FOH for a half hour before the first show had finished.

In its early years the programme was changed weekly, meaning that people could visit the Theatre every week and see a different show with different variety artistes performing, all for the price of just 4 pence if you didn't mind sitting in the Pit at the back of the stalls.

Other prices were 1 shilling for the Stalls, 6 pence for the Grand Circle, and in the Gallery 3 pence, or even 2 pence on some evenings, quite a bargain for a two hour show.

An Advertisement for the newly opened Ardwick Green Empire - From The Athlectic News, July 25th 1904.

Above - An Advertisement for the newly opened Ardwick Green Empire - From The Athlectic News, July 25th 1904.

A Music Hall Programme for the Ardwick Empire for the 2nd of September 1912

Music Hall Programme for the Ardwick Empire for the 2nd of September 1912.

Above - A Music Hall Programme for the Ardwick Empire for the 2nd of September 1912.

Music Hall Programme for the Ardwick Empire for the 2nd of September 1912.

Above - A Music Hall Programme for the Ardwick Empire for the 2nd of September 1912.

Change of name to the New Manchester Hippodrome

The New Manchester Hippodrome in 1937-1938, during the run of Bert Loman's production of 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' - Courtesy Maurice Friedman, British Music hall Society.

Above - The New Manchester Hippodrome, formerly the Ardwick Empire, during the run of Bert Loman's production of 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' in 1937-1938 - Courtesy Maurice Friedman, British Music hall Society. The caption on the card read 'Britain's Greatest Pantomime smashes all records at the Manchester Hippodrome 1937-8.'

A Poster for the Manchester Hippodrome, Ardwick Green - Courtesy Adrian KorsnerFrom 1930 the Theatre had begun operating part time as a Cinema, although it did still present Variety shows on its large stage for much of the time.

The Theatre was refurbished in 1935 and renamed the New Manchester Hippodrome, after the original Manchester Hippodrome, which was also built in 1904, was sold to the Granada Cinemas Chain and demolished for the construction of a new Super Cinema on its site.

Right - A Poster for the Manchester Hippodrome, Ardwick Green - Courtesy Adrian Korsner - On the Bill were Vic Lewis and his Orchestra with Sylvia Drew and Dean Raymond featuring Ronnie Chamberlain, the Four Jones Boys, Billy Maxam, Ken Morris and Joan Savage, the Ballet Montmartre, Sisto and Partner, and Les Ricards.

A September 1951 Poster for the Manchester Hippodrome - Courtesy Geof Turner.The New Hippodrome closed after the final performance of 'Tokyo' on April the 22nd 1961. Its closure was generally stated as being the result of a lack of suitable shows available to put on in the Theatre, which had also had a closure for several months the previous summer for the same reason.

Left - A September 1951 Poster for the Manchester Hippodrome - Courtesy Geof Turner who says 'The poster is dated September 3rd 1951 when a young pianist called Sugar Chile Robinson was top of the bill. I was 16 years old and had seen him signing records at Lewis's Department Store and decided to go to see him. On the same bill were Dowie & Kane, Les Danielleys and various other artists.'

After the closure of the Theatre its fittings were sold by auction. The Stage Newspaper carried an advertisement for the auction in their August the 17th, 1961 edition saying that the items included:- 'Velvet House Tabs; Drapes; Borders; Back Cloths; Tab Rails; Hemp Ropes and Lines and Winches. Floodlights; Spotlamps; Switch- boards; Fluorescent and other fittings; Neon and Box Signs; Vacuum cleaners; Hand Drill; Clocks; Water Heaters; and various electrical fittings. "Chappel" Baby Grand Piano; Record Player and Speakers. Bar Counters and Furnishings; Glassware and Crockery; Carpeting and Floor Coverings; Desks; Tables; Safes; Typewriters; Dressing Room Furnishings: Fire Appliances; Ladders; Trestles and General Complement of Loose Effects.' - The Stage, August the 17th, 1961.

A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Ardwick Empire / New Hippodrome today - Click to Interact.It was hoped that after the auction the Theatre would at least be converted for other uses but sadly it was seriously damaged by a fire in February 1964 and was then demolished in August the same year.

Right - A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Ardwick Empire / New Hippodrome today - Click to Interact.

The site of the Theatre has still not been redeveloped even to this day, but carries advertising hoardings facing a large roundabout and the still surviving Ardwick Green.

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

Other Pages that may be of Interest