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

 

The Hulme Playhouse Theatre, Chichester Road and Warwick Street, Manchester

Formerly - The Hippodrome - Later - The Grand Junction Theatre / Junction Picture Theatre / Playhouse / BBC Playhouse / Nia Centre / The Fountain Gate Chapel

Introduction - Brenhan Players - BBC Playhouse - NDO - 1991 Onwards - An Audience with Pete Best - 2012 Photographs - 2013 Photographs - 2016 Photographs

Manchester Theatres Index

The Hulme Playhouse and Hippodrome Theatre in March 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

Above - The Hulme Playhouse and Hippodrome Theatre in March 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

The Hulme Playhouse was constructed next door to the current Hulme Hippodrome and originally opened as the Hippodrome Theatre itself in 1902. The Theatre was designed by J. J. Alley who also designed the Theatre next door and both were connected by an arcade. Alley also designed several other Theatres in Manchester, including the Metropole, the Royal Osborne, the Hulme Hippodrome, and the Queens Park Hippodrome along with the Pavilion Theatre in Liverpool, and several others in the Broadhead Circuit.

The Auditorium of the Hulme Playhouse, Manchester during its time as a BBC studio in November 1985 - Photo Courtesy Ted Bottle.The Theatre was smaller than its neighbour but had a similar auditorium with two straight Balconies, but this Theatre has slips running to the proscenium from the upper Balcony. The Theatre originally had a capacity of 1,500.

Right - The Auditorium of the Hulme Playhouse, Manchester during its time as a BBC studio in November 1985 - Photo Courtesy Ted Bottle.

In 1905 the Theatre was renamed the Grand Junction Theatre whilst the Theatre next door, originally called the Grand Junction Theatre and Floral Hall, was renamed the Hulme Hippodrome. Both Theatres effectively swapping names.

In 1929 the Theatre was converted for Cinema use and renamed the Junction Picture Theatre.

In 1951 the Theatre was renamed again, this time to the Playhouse and was in use as a live Theatre again. Information on the James Brenhan Players playing at the Hulme Playhouse in 1955 can be seen here. In 1956 the Theatre was taken over by the BBC and used as a Radio Recording Studio and information on this period can be seen here. It was also used as a studio for the Northern Dance Orchestra (NDO) and information on this can be seen here. Information on the Hulme Playhouse's more recent years can be seen below. There are also many photographs of the Theatre in 2012, 2013, and 2016 shown below.

The James Brenhan Players at the Hulme Playhouse in 1955

Introducing Anthony Booth

A programme for the James Brennan Players in 'A Murder Has Been Arranged' which commenced at the Playhouse Theatre, Hulme on Monday the 18th of April 1955Anthony Booth's first stage appearance (at school) was as Portia in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice". Since then he has progressed to male parts! Before joining this company he has played in repertory in Blackpool, St. Anne's, Bury and Castleford. He is married to the company's assistant stage manager Gale Howard and they have a daughter Cherie, aged six months.

His favourite part is Archie Fellows in "The Shop at Sly Corner" and he has an ambition to play Bobby Dariver in "As Long as They're Happy", as it was once his ambition to become a crooner - His hobbies - he says - are sleep and more sleep! - Text from an article in the programme displayed Right.

Right - A programme for the James Brennan Players in 'A Murder Has Been Arranged' which commenced at the Playhouse Theatre, Hulme on Monday the 18th of April 1955 - In the cast were Faith Owen, Gale Howard, Jack Medley, Andree Evans, Adele Loraine, Nicholas Grimshaw, David Kerr, Zita Jenner, and Anthony Booth, (father of Cherie Booth, mentioned in the article above at age 6 months, Cherie would go on to become the wife of the future British Prime Minister Tony Blair).

A programme and ticket stubs for the James Brennan Players in 'A Murder Has Been Arranged' which commenced at the Playhouse Theatre, Hulme on Monday the 18th of April 1955

Above - A programme and ticket stubs for the James Brennan Players in 'A Murder Has Been Arranged' which commenced at the Playhouse Theatre, Hulme on Monday the 18th of April 1955 - In the cast were Faith Owen, Gale Howard, Jack Medley, Andree Evans, Adele Loraine, Nicholas Grimshaw, David Kerr, Zita Jenner, and Anthony Booth, (father of Cherie Booth who would go on to become the wife of the future British Prime Minister Tony Blair).

The BBC at the Hulme Playhouse 1956 - 1987

The Proscenium and Auditorium of the Hulme Playhouse, Manchester during its time as a BBC studio in November 1985 - Photo Courtesy Ted Bottle.

Above - The Proscenium and Auditorium of the Hulme Playhouse, Manchester during its time as a BBC studio in November 1985 - Photo Courtesy Ted Bottle.

A Ticket for Tony Brandon chairing "A question of fun" autographed by John Le Mesurier, at the BBC Playhouse, Hulme in 1974 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.In 1956 the Theatre was renamed again, this time to the BBC Playhouse and used from 1956 to 1987 by the BBC as a Radio studio. A visitor to the site, Alfred Mason, has kindly sent in some ticket stubs and show information for the BBC Playhouse during this period, which can be seen below, and says:- 'I have many fond memories of the Playhouse, having been a member of the audience when the BBC did their radio recordings there.

Right - A Ticket for Tony Brandon chairing "A question of fun" autographed by John Le Mesurier, at the BBC Playhouse, Hulme in 1974 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

I was lucky enough to spend many (mostly) Sunday nights in the Playhouse over many years. It was the most wonderful and intimate atmosphere of any theatre I have ever been in and it is sadly missed. The admission tickets from the BBC radio recordings give a good indication of what shows they recorded there. The ticket for "A question of fun" (shown right) is autographed by John Le Mesurier of Dad's Army fame - he must have been on the panel when I obtained it.' - Alfred Mason.

At The Straw Hat Ticket - Courtesy Alfred Mason. The Mike Yarwood Show Ticket - Courtesy Alfred Mason. The Larry Grayson Show Ticket - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

Les Dawson Ticket - Courtesy Alfred Mason. Ken Dodd Ticket - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

The Des O'Connor Show Ticket - Courtesy Alfred Mason. Hinge and Bracket Ticket - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

 

 

 

Show name
Starring
Recording Date
Notes

At the straw hat

 

Clinton Ford, Barbara Law, The N.D.O.

Monday 13.04.1970

 

Variety show

 

The Mike Yarwood Show

Mike Yarwood

Sunday 07.10.1973 Featured Barbara Knox of Coronation Street fame
The Larry Grayson Show Larry Grayson Sunday 15.09.1974  
A question of fun Tony Brandon Sunday 15.12.1974 Panel type game
Ask the family Ted Moult Sunday 22.12.1974 Panel type game
Listen to Les Les Dawson Sunday 06.07.1975  
The Variety Club Ken Dodd Sunday 02.05.1976  

Hello Cheeky

 

Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer, John Junkin, The Denis King Trio

Wednesday 26.05.1976

 

 
The show with 10 Legs Eddie Braben Sunday 26.09.1976 Featured Alison Steadman
Castle's on the air Roy Castle Sunday 31.10.1976  
This family Robinson Joe Gladwin, Tony Melody Sunday, 15.05.1977 Sitcom
The Des O'Connor Show Des O'Connor Wednesday 03.05.1978  
Variety Club Tony Christie, Stu Francis Sunday 25.02.1979  

The Enchanting World of Hinge and Bracket

 

Hinge and Bracket (Patrick Fyffe) (George Logan)

 

Tuesday 10.04.1979

 

 

I will always remember Joe Gladwin stating the following: "I have been in this business a long time and I have to say that Hinge and Bracket are one of the finest acts I have ever seen" He said this while on stage at the Playhouse.
A very private man Rodney Bewes Sunday 17.02.1980 Sitcom
The Grumbleweeds The Grumbleweeds Saturday 22.03.1980  

 

The above BBC Playhouse Show Details were kindly sent in by Alfred Mason and are compiled from his own collection of tickets from shows he saw himself during the 1970s and 80s.

The Auditorium of the Hulme Playhouse, Manchester during its time as a BBC studio in November 1985 - Photo Courtesy Ted Bottle.

Above - The Auditorium of the Hulme Playhouse, Manchester during its time as a BBC studio in November 1985. Photo Courtesy Ted Bottle.

A Flyer for the Farewell Production at the Hulme Playhouse on the 15th of June 1986 - Courtesy Ian Reed.

Above - A Flyer for the Farewell Production at the Hulme Playhouse on the 15th of June 1986 - Courtesy Ian Reed.

A photograph of the BBC's Wurlitzer Theatre organ No 3, at the Hulme Playhouse in 1981 - Courtesy Alan Ashton

Above - A photograph of the BBC's Wurlitzer Theatre organ No 3, at the Hulme Playhouse in 1981 - Courtesy Alan Ashton who says: 'The organ was originally from the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, and was eventually removed and the pipework incorporated in the Wurlitzer in the Assembly Hall at Worthing. The console itself is now, I understand, in the ownership of a private collector.

The Hulme Hippodrome and Playhouse Theatres in November 2011 - Courtesy K.R.

Above - The Hulme Hippodrome and Playhouse Theatres in November 2011 - Courtesy K.R.

The Hulme Playhouse Theatre was also used as a Studio by the Northern Dance Orchestra (NDO), and more information on this can be found here and below.

A photograph of the auditorium of the Hulme Playhouse in April 2013 in use as a Church - Courtesy Ian Reed.In 1991 the Theatre was renamed yet again, this time to the Nia Centre, and converted internally for mid size touring productions but the stage depth was made smaller and the site lines were compromised and the venture failed. The Theatre closed in 2000.

Despite being a Grade II Listed Building the Hulme Playhouse stood empty and slowly decaying for many years before being acquired by the Fountainhead Church, who planned to restore it and convert it into a church and community centre.

Right - A photograph of the auditorium of the Hulme Playhouse in April 2013 in use as a Church - Courtesy Ian Reed.

By May 2013 they had cleaned and rewired the Theatre, repaired the roof, and reopened the Theatre as a Church. Some Photographs of the Theatre in April 2012 before the Church began work on the building are shown below.

A photograph showing the height of the water damage at the Hulme Playhouse prior to renovation - Courtesy Ian Reed.In November 2013 Ian Reed, whose wonderful CDs of the Northern Dance Orchestra at the Hulme Playhouse can be seen below, visited the Theatre and sent in some photographs of the work done so far. Ian says:- "A lot of work has now been done on the Theatre by the Church, although there is still lots more to do. The work has been done by the Church, led by Charles and Adam, with help from the congregation. Work is ongoing in the dressing rooms. Most spectacular is the clean up of the balcony as can be seen from the photographs below - all the seats are now cleaned and capable of being used. For essential work like the electrics, outside contractors have been brought in. What a transformation!" - Ian Reed.

Right - A photograph showing the height of the water damage at the Hulme Playhouse prior to renovation - Courtesy Ian Reed.

In May 2016 the Church was still resident in the former Playhouse Theatre and the building had been renamed The Fountain Gate Chapel. However, in 2017 it was announced that the Theatre would be put up for auction on May the 18th 2017 and that the Church would have to find £300,000 if they wished to purchase it before that date. A Campaign by the Church was quickly started at the end of March to raise the funds to purchase the Theatre. If you would like to help this cause please visit their Campaign site here.

An Audience with Pete Best, Saturday 11 June 2016

An Audience with Pete Best at the Hulme Playhouse, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason

Above - An Audience with Pete Best at the Hulme Playhouse, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason. More images of the Theatre on the day of this event can be seen below.

Pete Best, Roag Best, and Peter Pilbeam at the Hulme Playhouse in June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.The Playhouse was used as a Theatre again for a special one day only event on Saturday 11 June 2016 when Pete Best, the original drummer with The Beatles returned to the same stage where he and his fellow Beatles made their historic radio debut in 1962.

Right - Pete Best, Roag Best, and Peter Pilbeam at the Hulme Playhouse in June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

Pete was in conversation with Paul Wilde, who is a Manchester music historian. The day also included live music from a Beatles tribute band. Other guests included Peter Pilbeam, the BBC producer who auditioned The Beatles for their very first radio recording at the Playhouse on 7 March 1962, and Mark Lewisohn, the Beatles author and historian who is considered to be one of the world’s leading authorities on The Beatles.

A Flyer for the BBC Radio Recording of the Beatles Debut at the Playhouse Theatre, Hulme, Manchester, in March 1962 - Courtesy Ian Reed and Paul Wilde. The historic recordings the BBC made of the Beatles were broadcast to the nation the following day on 8 March 1962 giving the Playhouse an important place in Beatles folklore and pop music history.

Left - A Flyer for the BBC Radio Recording of the Beatles Debut at the Playhouse Theatre, Hulme, Manchester, in March 1962 - Courtesy Ian Reed and Paul Wilde. Ian Reed has also produced many CDs of the Northern Dance Orchestra at the Hulme Playhouse and more information on this can be seen below.

An Audience with Pete Best at the Hulme Playhouse, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy  Ian Reed and Paul Wilde.This non profit event which was billed as “An Audience with Pete Best” was in aid of the roof and of the Theatre itself both of which need further renovation and restoration.

More images of the Theatre on the day of this event can be seen below.

Photographs of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012

Photograph of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012 - Courtesy K.R

Photograph of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012 - Courtesy K.R

Photograph of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012 - Courtesy K.R

Photograph of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012 - Courtesy K.R

Photograph of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012 - Courtesy K.R

Photograph of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012 - Courtesy K.R

Photograph of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012 - Courtesy K.R

Photograph of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012 - Courtesy K.R

Photograph of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012 - Courtesy K.R

Photograph of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012 - Courtesy K.R

Above - Photographs of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in April 2012 - Courtesy K.R

Photographs of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre in November 2013

The ongoing restoration of the Hulme Playhouse - Courtesy Ian Reed, November 2013.

The ongoing restoration of the Hulme Playhouse - Courtesy Ian Reed, November 2013.

The ongoing restoration of the Hulme Playhouse - Courtesy Ian Reed, November 2013.

Above - Three photographs showing the ongoing restoration of the Hulme Playhouse - Courtesy Ian Reed, November 2013.

Photographs of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre on the day of An Audience with Pete Best, Saturday 11 June 2016

The Hulme Playhouse Theatre on the day of An Audience with Pete Best, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

The Hulme Playhouse Theatre on the day of An Audience with Pete Best, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

The Hulme Playhouse Theatre on the day of An Audience with Pete Best, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

The Hulme Playhouse Theatre on the day of An Audience with Pete Best, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

The Hulme Playhouse Theatre on the day of An Audience with Pete Best, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

The Hulme Playhouse Theatre on the day of An Audience with Pete Best, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

The Hulme Playhouse Theatre on the day of An Audience with Pete Best, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

The Hulme Playhouse Theatre on the day of An Audience with Pete Best, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

Above - Photographs of the Hulme Playhouse Theatre on the day of An Audience with Pete Best, Saturday 11 June 2016 - Courtesy Alfred Mason.

The Northern Dance Orchestra CDs

The Hulme Playhouse Theatre was also used as a Studio by the Northern Dance Orchestra (NDO), and a visitor to the site, Ian Reed, has very kindly sent me copies of some of his CDs which feature hitherto unreleased recordings of the NDO which is a most remarkable set of recordings and of great quality. Details of the CDs and how to purchase your own copies are shown below.

The Music of the NDO and NRO - Click for more information.

These Northern Dance Orchestra CDs were produced from the only known master tapes of the band, now in private collections. It was thought that because of contractual arrangements, which meant that band numbers were played twice then wiped, that none of this material remained. The NDO project uncovered some wonderful recordings, now totaling some 400, from which these CD’s were made. The quality of the recordings is excellent, the playing superb, the solos sublime. They have been very well received by professional musicians and enthusiasts alike. So far the non profit making NDO project has raised over £4,000 for charities by generous donations from purchasers. The CDs are available now and full details of how to order can be found on Ian Reed's website.

On Ruby CD 1, released in October 2013, there are 29 tracks of BBC experimental stereo recorded in 1960/61/63 at the Playhouse theatre in Hulme, Manchester, in ground breaking recordings, made long before the BBC was able to broadcast stereo from its transmitters. Some of the recordings have the original announcements by the late Roger Moffat. CD 2 contains the latest stereo recordings made just before the NDO was disbanded.

All the NDO CD’s have been made at cost, with licensing by the BBC, and permission from the Musicians Union.

Many thought that after 40 years since it played at the Playhouse, the recordings of the NDO had been lost forever - we think that these recordings prove that after considerable unpaid work by the NDO project members, this was indeed a big band well worth saving.

For more information and track listings please look at Ian's Website.

Other Pages that may be of Interest