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

The Marsden Street Theatre, Marsden Street and Brown Street, Manchester

Manchester Theatres Index

A Watercolour showing the Marsden Street Theatre, Manchester - By George Richmond, November 2016.

Above - A Watercolour showing the Marsden Street Theatre, Manchester - By George Richmond, November 2016. Source details below. Click for an Index to all of George Richmond's Paintings on this site.

A Manchester resident of long standing wrote to the Era in 1896 with an article on Manchester’s Theatres. In it he included brief details of Manchester's first Theatre, the Marsden Street Theatre, which said:- 'In 1753 our first Theatre was erected on the corner of Marsden Street and Brown Street, its agent being Aulay Macaulay, of shorthand fame, at that time a grocer in the town. It was quickly engaged by Mr Elrington, the manager of an itinerant company, who issued bills announcing that on Monday December 3rd 1753 he would open the Theatre with a play and other entertainments for the benefit of the Infirmary (originated the previous year).

Our good forefathers, however, were not prepared to have “the demoralising” influence of the drama in their midst, so the authorities stepped in, forbade the performance, and ordered the players to leave the town within 24 hours.

The Theatre remained unopened (save for one concert in 1755 and the musical masque,'Acis and Galatea' three years later) until December 1759, when James Whitley brought his company of comedians, and began the first theatrical season upon its new boards.

The Theatre continued to serve the people of Manchester for the next 16 years until it closed May 12th 1775, a patent having been granted to the new Theatre Royal then in the course of erection in Spring Gardens. The building then became a newsroom and tavern, and went on to serve many other functions.

The above information was first published in an article in the Era on the 4th of January 1896 and may contain some factual errors. The full unedited article can be seen here.

The watercolour image of the Theatre shown at the top of this page was painted by George Richmond in November 2016, he says:- 'It is based on a contemporary line drawing from Joyce Knowlson’s Red Plus and Gilt. The double height windows on the gable end of the building would indicate that the Theatre was situated on first floor, also encompassing the area of the second floor above, thus creating an auditorium and acting area of double hight. The interior is likely to have been similar to many of the provincial Theatres of the period, a uniformity that enabled the touring companies of the day an uncomplicated fit up. An example that survived into the 21st century can be seen on the Ormskirk page here.

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

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