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

Theatres and Halls in Northampton


The Royal Theatre - Still in Theatrical Use

Derngate Theatre - Still in Theatrical Use

Theatre Royal and Opera House - Still in Theatrical Use

The Repertory Theatre - Still in Theatrical Use

Savoy Super Cinema / Deco Theatre - Still in Use

East Park Picturedrome

Empire Theatre / Music Hall

Plough Hall

Palace Theatre of Varieties

Crow & Horseshoe Inn Music Hall

Alhambra Music Hall

Temperance Hall of Varieties

Star Hall of Varieties

Theatre of Varieties

Palace Vaudeville Theatre

Picture House

Vint's Palace

Vint's Picture Palace

Majestic Cinema

New Theatre

Royal Theatre, Marefair

Empire Theatre of Varieties, Marefair

Grapho's / Winter Garden


About Osborne Robinson

About the FJB Theatre Circuit

About Lou Warrick, Local Theatre Critic

Osborne Robinson

The late Osborne Robinson, repainting the Royal Theatre's ceiling circa 1960 - From a publicity handout of the then Northampton Repertory Co. (Circa 1970) - Courtesy Alan Chudley.Alan Chudley writes: Just a few notes on Osborne Robinson, who was a brilliant designer and a highly respected and much loved character. Although Osborne did from time to time design for other theatres; he was known to have designed backcloths for the New Theatre Northampton; he was loathe to work away from his beloved Northampton Royal Theatre.

Right - The late Osborne Robinson, repainting the Royal Theatre's ceiling circa 1960 - From a publicity handout of the then Northampton Repertory Co. (Circa 1970) - Courtesy Alan Chudley.

When I was deputy Master Carpenter at the Yvonne Arnuad Theatre in Guildford, we prevailed upon Osborne for permission to use his designs for "Jack and the Beanstalk" at Northampton the previous year. These had to be rebuilt to accommodate the very much larger stage at Guildford. Hence I went to Northampton to discuss this with Osborne. I have worked with many well known designers, but without doubt, Osborne was the best designer which I ever came across.

The centrepiece of Osborne's sets for Jack and The Beanstalk was Dame Durden's Cottage, at Guildford this became known as Dame Chart's Cottage after the master carpenter who supervised it's building. After the pantomime Dame Chart's Cottage was given to a local Children's home, as a play-house. - Alan Chudley.

FJB Theatre Circuit

Around 1935 when Freddie Butterworth was a Cinema Manager, he decided to return the former Palace Theatre Scunthorpe, revamped as the Savoy Cinema, back into a live theatre and such was the success of this that within a few years he was able to build up a circuit of over a dozen live Number Two theatres: The Savoy Scunthorpe ( Palace Theatre) - The Theatre Royal Lincoln, which became a theatre again after the Lincoln Empire was bombed during the war - The Palace Grimsby reopened as a live theatre after the Tivoli Grimsby was bombed - The Norwich Hippodrome - The Aston Hippodrome Taken over from Sam Newsome - The Wolverhampton Hippodrome taken over from the General Theatre Corporation - The Boscombe Hippodrome also taken over from the General Theatre Corporation - The Grand Southampton, patched up after War damage and reopened as a live theatre - The York Empire - The Bristol Empire - The New Northampton was the last theatre to be added to the circuit.

In London there were also the Bedford Camden Town, The Kilburn Empire, The Grand Croydon, and Richmond Theatre.

Some theatres lasted many years, others such as the Burnley Palace and Theatre Royal Chatham, were only in the FJB circuit for a brief while.

On the FJB Circuit, which was always a Number Two Circuit, economy was the by-word. Staffing levels, and the Orchestra members were cut to the bone, as were other expenses such as advertising. However, FJB gave these theatres a longer life then might have otherwise been the case, and for such much credit must be attributed to Freddie Butterworth.

This information was kindly written for the site by Alan Chudley.

There is a great deal of information on Freddie Butterworth and the FJB circuit here.

Lou Warrick - Theatre Critic

Another well loved character in Northampton was Lou Warrick, the local Theatre Critic. He loved both Northampton theatres, particularly the New Theatre where he made many friends within the touring companies, towards the end of the" NEWD" Theatres life.

Revues often stayed in residence for several weeks, presenting a different version each week, thus saving touring costs. It was a sad day for Lou when FJB informed the local press that they would no longer require reviews. Lou had blotted his copy book, by saying that some of the Sketches in Terry (Toby Jug) Cantor's revues were old hat and that the audience knew the Tag Line by heart.

I came across Terry Cantor several times and he always gave value for money, albeit, as Lou said, with material which was a trifle dated. However, I do not think the audiences noticed this too much, as few had Lou's experience of Theatre going. Terry Cantor was a popular and good revue comedian, and a very pleasant man to know and work with, but he did not take kindly to criticism.

This information was kindly written for the site by Alan Chudley.

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