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The Royal Olympic Theatre, Lever Street, Manchester

Manchester Theatres Index

The Royal Olympic Theatre was situated on Lever Street, Manchester, and was built in 1838 for W. M. Bates, who would also open his Royal Ampitheatre in Liverpool the same year, today the Royal Court Theatre. The Royal Olympic Theatre opened for a short season of Drama and Equestrian Entertainments on Monday the 26th of November 1838, but it was to have a short life and was soon closed and converted into a Drapery Store in 1841. The Guardian carried a 'Certificate' and Advertisement for the Theatre's opening in their Saturday November the 17th 1838 edition, which I have transcribed below:-

Manchester, October 31st, 1838

We, the undersigned, having made a survey of the building now erecting in Stevenson's Square, to be called the Royal Olympic Theatre, having carefully examined the same, as to the strength of the walls, construction of carpenters' work, &c. are fully of opinion the whole is done in a good and workmanlike manner, and is perfectly safe and secure to bear the weight or pressure of any number of persons it is capable of containing.

THOMAS LEE, Architect and Surveyor.
DAVID BELLHOLTSE, junior, Builder.

Stevenson's Square, Lever-street, Piccadilly, Manchester

Mr. W M. BATES, proprietor of the Royal Amphitheatre, Liverpool, respectfully states to the Nobility, Gentry, Inhabitants, and Visitors of Manchester and its vicinity, that he intends to OPEN the above NEW THEATRE on MONDAY, 26th November, 1838, with a Double Company of Dramatic and Equestrian Performers, and a New Stud of 40 British and Foreign Horses and Fairy Steeds.

The Season of the Royal Olympic will positively occupy One Month only, owing to the opening of Mr. Bate's Royal Amphitheatre at Liverpool, on the 26th December.

The doors will be opened each evening at half-past six; and the entertainments commence at seven o'clock precisely.

Ten Private Boxes, at 21s.; Dress Boxes, 3s.; Pit 2s.; Gallery, 1s. - Children under 14 years of age, half-price to all parts of the theatre - Second Price at nine o'clock. Boxes, 2s.; 1s.; Gallery, 6d.

The Box Office will be opened on Saturday, November 24th, and every day during the season, from eleven to three o'clock, when Mr. Hale will be in attendance.

Further particulars will be given in future advertisements and the Bills of the day.

The THEATRE will be TO LET, from the 26th December until Easter, for Public Meetings, Concerts, &c. - Application to be made to Mr. Bates.'

The above 'Certificate' and Advertisement were first published in the Guardian, November the 17th 1838.

The ERA carried an article about the Royal Olympic Theatre in their 4th of January 1896 edition which gives some information on this short lived Theatre saying:- '...Now for the Olympic, which was opened, according to Mr Byam Wyke, in 1838. A good deal of misconception prevails about this shortlived theatre. Some say that it was originally a place of worship, others that it was converted into a theatre from a warehouse. Both appear to be wrong. The facts seem to be as follows;— When the Rev. Samuel Warren was expelled from the Wesleyan Conference, as a result of the "Fly-street" controversy, a section of the Methodists went with him, and they were called Warrenites. They first used a wooden building called Coolie's Circus, in Lever-street, and afterwards erected a brick and wood building at the corner of Lever-street and Stevensen's square. Dr. Warren soon after entered the Church and became the first incumbent of All Souls, Every-street, Manchester, which was consecrated in November, 1840, the first stone having been laid Oct. 26th, 1839. After Dr. Warren entered the Church, the brick and wood building at the corner of Lever-street was pulled down, and a carrier's warehouse erected on its site. This in its turn was killed by the railway system, and was also demolished, the Olympic Theatre being raised in its place.

The performances here were of a very low caste, though G. W. Brookes once made his appearance on its boards. When Carter, the lion king, was there a short play was acted every evening. Van Arnburgh, another lion king, was at one of the other theatres at the same time. As a matter of fact they were partners, and the professed rivalry was simply to draw custom. Carter married Miss Dean, an actress at the Olympic, and the daughter of Samuel Dean, a Manchester pawnbroker. Something about this old Manchester theatre can be found in the first volume of the Manchester City News Notes and Queries, pages 10, 17, and 25. The premises were purchased in 1842 by Messrs Falkner, who turned it into a drapery store.'

The above text in quotes was originally published in an article in the Era, 4th of January 1896.

The Guardian carried an advertisement detailing the change of use of the Royal Olympic Theatre into a Drapery Establishment in their May the 15th 1841 edition which read:- 'Falkner Brothers announce that on Saturday the 15th of May they will close their present establishment, No. 1, Oldham-street, and remove to those premises, lately occupied as the Royal Olympic Theatre.

They have been induced to make this change from the favourable terms on which they have obtained a twenty-eight year's lease of the building, from its extent and locality, and from the limited accommodation they have hitherto possessed for their daily increasing trade.

The objects they have in view are, by conducting business on strictly honourable principles, to supply what is essentially requisite in this town, an establishment in which the public may have a choice of every description of goods connected with the trade, under one roof, and at such moderate prices as to make it unnecessary for any party to lay themselves under obligations by obtaining goods from wholesale houses.

To render this establishment worthy of the high standing the proprietors are anxious it should attain, they have fitted up the premises on an entirely novel principle, by which an effective light is throw upon every part of the building; and the departments are so arranged as greatly to facilitate business. Experienced buyers will visit the different markets in England, Scotland, and Ireland; and, before the goods are admitted into stock, they will be carefully examined by one of the principles, and marked with a low uniform rate of profit. All transactions will be for cash; no discount will be allowed; and the public will be saved the trouble of unnecessary bargaining, as there will be but one price for all.

A beautifully executed Map of Manchester, showing the position, and embellished with two accurate views of the building, may be had gratuitously by applying, after the 1st of May, at Oldham-street or Stevenson's Square.

Wanted, several Salesmen, and respectable Youths as Apprentices. - Apply at No. 1, Oldham Street.'

The above text was first published in the Guardian, 15th May 1841.

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