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The Guild Hall & Charter Theatre, Lancaster Road, Preston

A Google StreetView Image of the Guild Hall & Charter Theatre, Preston - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Guild Hall & Charter Theatre, Preston - Click to Interact

An 'Old Tyme Music Hall' Poster for the Charter Theatre, Preston in March 1974 - Courtesy D Stevens, Horseheads, NY.The Guild Hall & Charter Theatre are situated in Lancaster Road, Preston. It is a modern building with two performance spaces, built and opened in 1972.

The Guild Hall arena is a concert venue seating 2,035 people, having a flexible multi purpose layout. It hosts concerts, conferences, dance, and sporting events, such as badminton, snooker, wrestling, darts and bowls. The Arena features three bar area's catering for its patrons.

The Charter Theatre is a modern Theatre featuring full stage facilities, with seating on two levels, namely stalls seating 578 people and the circle seating 202. The capacity being 780 people. It offers both professional and amateur performances, together with an annual Christmas Pantomime.

Right - An 'Old Tyme Music Hall' Poster for the Charter Theatre, Preston in March 1974 - Courtesy D Stevens, Horseheads, NY.

An 'Old Tyme Music Hall' Poster for the Charter Theatre, Preston in March 1975 - Courtesy D Stevens, Horseheads, NY.There are also two multi purpose suites available, the Celebrity Lounge and the Avenham Suite, which cater for between 100 and 120 people, available for parties, celebrations, conferences, meetings and smaller events. Each has an in house bar and toilet facilities.

Left - An 'Old Tyme Music Hall' Poster for the Charter Theatre, Preston in March 1975 - Courtesy D Stevens, Horseheads, NY.

An 'Old Tyme Music Hall' Poster for the Grand Hall of the Guild Hall and Charter Theatre, Preston in the 1970s - Courtesy D Stevens, Horseheads, NY.The Guildhall and Charter Theatre offer a mixed programme of entertainment covering comedy, drama, shows, musicals, concerts, Opera and Ballet for the people of Preston.

Right - An 'Old Tyme Music Hall' Poster for the Grand Hall of the Guild Hall and Charter Theatre, Preston in the 1970s - Courtesy D Stevens, Horseheads, NY.

You may like to visit the Guild Hall & Charter Theatre's own Website here.

The above article on the Guild Hall & Charter Theatre, Preston was written for this site in 2013 and is © David Garratt.

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

 

The Theatre Royal, Theatre Street and Fishergate, Preston

Later - The ABC Cinema

A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Theatre Royal / ABC Cinema, Preston today - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Theatre Royal / ABC Cinema, Preston today - Click to Interact

An early Bill for the Theatre Royal, Preston for a production including a display of the Velocipede by Mr. Brettargh, and the plays 'School For Scandal', and Love, Law, and Physic' on July the 16th 1819 - Courtesy George Richmond and Gerrard Shannon.The original Theatre Royal, Preston was situated on the corner of Theatre Street and Fishergate and opened in 1802 to cater for the large crowds expected for the Guild of that year.

At the end of September 1801, workmen began to open the ground, on the south side of Fishergate, near the Tollbars, on which it was intended to erect the new Theatre. It was to be built by subscription, in a capacious style of elegance, and to correspond with other improvements that were daily happening in Preston at the time.

Right - An early Bill for the Theatre Royal, Preston for a production including a display of the Velocipede by Mr. Brettargh, and the plays 'School For Scandal', and Love, Law, and Physic' on July the 16th 1819 - Courtesy George Richmond and Gerrard Shannon.

It was expected that the building would be completed by August 1802, in time for the celebration of the Guild Merchant and the large crowds anticipated. This festival was held in Preston every 20 years and 1802 was to be the 19th time since it was first instituted in the 2nd year of the reign of King Edward III, in 1329.

Upwards of £1,500 had already been subscribed toward the expense of the building, with the execution of the internal part to be under the direction of Mr Stanton, the manager, whose abilities in this regard were well known and long admired.

On Tuesday the 8th of October 1801 the first stone of the intended New Theatre, Preston, was laid by the Worshipful Mayor William Prichard, on the close of his Mayoralty, accompanied by a number of the principal inhabitants of the town.

By the 20th of February 1802 the New Theatre building had already made good progress, with clubs and societies formed to help defray the expenses of the different entertainments in the town during the Guild, including a complete week of horse racing. Thus it was expected that the celebration would not fall short financially. Originally, anybody who wanted to trade in Preston, whether as a merchant, a craftsman, a market stall holder or in any other capacity, was required to be a member of the Guild Merchant.

The new Preston Theatre opened on Friday the 27th of August 1802 and its opening productions were 'Mountaineers' featuring both Mr and Mrs Siddons, and 'Wedding Day' or 'The Meeting of old Friends'. On Saturday the 28th of August 'Hamlet' was performed.

During the 1802 Guild celebrations, the New Theatre, a 'very elegant and convenient house', was attended by crowded audiences every night at double prices. A great part of the pit had been laid into boxes, notwithstanding which, hardly a place was to be had on most of the nights.

There is a report in the ERA of the 5th July 1857 which refers to a change in lessees and a reopening of the Theatre saying:- 'The new lessees of the Theatre Royal have honourably carried out their promises. The house was reopened on Monday evening, and all present were much pleased with it's greatly improved appearance. The boxes have been relined and covered, the gaseliers re-burnished and beautified, the fronts of the tiers and boxes repainted and gilded, a new act-drop has been painted by Mr. Herberte, and the same artist has supplied new scenery; the stage machinery has been rearranged; a ladies' cloak-room provided at the entrance, and the theatre is now something like it ought to be.' - The ERA of the 5th July 1857.

The reopening production was 'The Lady of Lyons' and 'Betsy Baker'. Mr Henry Vandenhoff played Claude Melnotte, Miss Mortyn played Pauline, Miss Seaman played Madam Deschappelles. In 'Betsy Baker' Mr Stephen Artaud played Mr Mouser, and Mrs Burkenshaw played Mrs Mouser.

Other plays which had been presented during the week were 'Rob Roy', 'An Alarming Sacrifice', 'The Honeymoon', 'Mischief making', 'All that Glitters is not Gold', 'Forty and Fifty', and 'Grimshaw, Bagshaw, and Bradshaw.'

An advert in the Preston Guardian Newspaper for the 11th August 1860 announces that the Theatre Royal Preston:- 'Will open for the season under the management of Mr Henry Egerton of the Liverpool, Birmingham, and Sheffield Theatres. Saturday August 11th 1860. During the recess the interior has been entirely re-constructed and beautifully redecorated; A new stage laid, the Boxes upholstered; New and effective Sun-light; A Chaste and elegant Act Drop. Entirely new scenery by Messrs. H. Bickerstaff (principal Scenic Artist, Theatre Royal Manchester), R. Hyde (Theatre Royal Liverpool), and assistants; New and Beautiful Costumes. The Management has much pleasure in announcing Mr Walter Montgomery, the eminent tragedian, who is engaged for 7 nights only. Mrs George Pauncefort is engaged for a limited period.' - The Preston Guardian Newspaper, 11th August 1860.

The opening production on Saturday 11th August was 'Hamlet' including the farce 'The Lottery Ticket'. On Monday 'Macbeth' together with the farce 'Retained For the Defence' was staged at the Theatre. Ticket prices for admission being Private boxes £1.1shilling, ( £1 and 5 pence in today’s money), Lower Circle 2s 6d, (32 and half pence today), Upper Circle 1s 6d (7 and half pence), Pit 1s (5pence). Half price to all parts of the house at nine o'clock. The stage manager was Mr Brazier from the Prince's Theatre London.

There is also a report of Franz List the famous pianist and composer, playing on the stage of the Theatre Royal.

It seems that the Theatre Royal had a number of rebuilds during its history which lasted for 153 years. The Theatre was rebuilt in 1898, Mr W. Johnson being the proprietor. The plans were submitted to the town council and approved on the 31st March 1898, whereupon work commenced. The old structure being demolished and the new Theatre built upon the same site. The new build taking 6 months to complete. The architect was Mr J. P. Briggs of Arundel Street, London. Mr S. King Sheldon being Clerk of Works, with Mr H. E. Bellamy, who was for many years connected with the D'Oyly Carte company, appointed the resident manager.

The Building News and Engineering Journal reported briefly on the rebuild in their 8th of April 1898 edition saying:- 'The plans for the proposed alterations to the Theatre Royal, Preston, prepared by Mr. John P. Briggs, of Effingham House, Arundel -street, Strand, were approved at the meeting of the town council on March 31st. The pulling down will commence directly after Easter, and the theatre will be opened on Oct. 3.' - The Building News and Engineering Journal, 8th of April 1898.

The front exterior of the building, although improved, was much the same in appearance as the old Theatre, the interior however had undergone a complete change. The principal entrance, over which had been erected an elegant wrought iron and glass canopy, led to the dress circle, orchestra stalls and upper circle. The foyer had an ornate fibrous plaster ceiling decorated in gilt and colours, with a magnificent carved carrara marble dado, with handsomely painted frieze above and a ceramic floor.

The main staircase led to the Crush Room, ladies boudoir, gentleman’s smoke room, retirement rooms and lavatories with hot and cold water. Folding doors from the Crush Room led immediately into the Dress Circle, with a short flight of steps leading to the Upper Circle. The auditorium ground floor was divided into orchestral stalls of four rows of tip up seats and pit, having a good rake toward the stage. The walls of which were covered in porcelain tiles. The Dress circle above, and upper circle, were cantilevered, giving excellent uninterrupted views of the stage. A separate concrete staircase led to the Gallery.

The stage was divided from the auditorium by a brick wall carried up to the roof and fitted with an iron and asbestos safety curtain. Either side of the stage were dressing room blocks supplied with hot and cold water. The stage itself was fitted with the latest machinery. 'Taylor's patent limelight manipulation,' having been secured at great expense, and was the first Theatre in the country into which this new invention had been fitted. The stage measurements were Proscenium opening 29 feet wide by 27 feet high, depth of stage 42 feet, stage height to flies 22 feet, and flies to grid 24 feet.

The auditorium was decorated in Louis XV style and the dome in the ceiling painted in an 'a la Van Dyck' manner, representing comedy, tragedy, dance, and music. Cameos were placed between these panels denoting science, art, industry, and commerce. The paintings and carving of the cameo's were by Mr Boekbinder, of London. Above the proscenium there was a painting representing the 'art of comedy' and either side were oil paintings portraying the poets, Racine and Milton. The auditorium dimensions were, from the orchestra to the back wall of the pit, 80 feet by 58 feet wide. The Theatre was bounded by streets on three side, which allowed goods exits, and all exit doors were fitted with panic bolts.

The first films were shown there in 1911, and it finally closed as a Theatre for stage performances in 1928, when it was remodelled as a Cinema, reopening in June 1928 under the ownership of Associated British Cinemas (ABC) showing H. B. Warner in the film 'Sorrell and Son'. The auditorium now sat 1,160 people. It continued as a cinema until the 3rd December 1955 when it closed, and was finally demolished in 1956, in order to build a new modern ABC cinema on the site.

This new ABC Cinema opened on 14th March 1959, showing the film 'The Reluctant Débutante' starring Rex Harrison. The actor Richard Todd appearing in person on the opening night. The cinema was of modern design featuring troughs in the ceiling which continued down the side wall containing concealed lighting. Patrons were seated in stalls and circle.

There is a photograph of the new ABC on the day it opened here. And a British Pathe film about the Cinema, introduced by Richard Todd here.

This cinema closed on the 7th April 1973 to allow for a 'Painted Wagon Pub' to be constructed in the rear stalls underneath the circle area, and reopened on the 6th May 1973 having now 637 seats in the circle area only.

The ABC finally closed on the 11th September 1982 with a double (X) rated film programme. In October / November 1986 the ABC was demolished and the land became part of the Fishergate Centre.

The above article on the Theatre Royal, Preston was first written for this site by David Garratt in 2013, with later additions by BF and Matthew Lloyd in 2014.

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

 

The Prince's Theatre and Opera House, Tithebarn Street, Preston

Formerly - The Gaiety Palace of Varieties / New Prince's Theatre - Later Buckingham Bingo

A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Gaiety / Prince's Theatre, Preston today - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Gaiety / Prince's Theatre, Preston today - Click to Interact

There have been two Theatres on the same site in Preston. The first being the New Gaiety Palace of Varieties, built by Henry Hemfrey and opened in 1882, standing in Tithebarn Street Preston. The second Theatre on the same site being The New Prince's Theatre.

The cornerstone for the first Theatre, the New Gaiety Palace of Varieties, was laid by Mrs Hemfrey on the first of May 1882. The new Theatre opened to an enthusiastic public on Monday 28th August 1882. It was built by local builders Tullis and Co, with seating for 2,000 people. The ERA of Saturday 2nd September 1882 states that 'sight and hearing from every part of the auditorium are all that could be desired.'

There was a large gallery round three sides of the auditorium, the seating of which facing the stage was upholstered in green leather. The stage was large and was well stocked with scenery and effects. A new Act Drop depicting a scene from a local park, had been specially painted by Tinsley and Roberts of Wigan, who were also responsible for the auditorium decoration.

The building featured all modern conveniences for the public, such as lavatories and a ladies cloak room, and refreshment bars in various parts. The whole building being heated by hot water.

The ERA reporter did however point out that the theatre had insufficient lighting and was wanting of ventilation. Two issues which needed addressing urgently.

Crowds besieged the opening and by 7.30pm the auditorium was crowded eagerly awaiting the grand opening at 8.0pm. The curtain duly rose on time to reveal Mr Hemfrey and friends together with the members of his company. A toast was made to the health of Queen Victoria and to the success of the New Gaiety Palace of Varieties. The manager then made a speech and named the forthcoming productions.

The opening programme featured: - Mr G, Pearson – comic and motto vocalist. Miss Kate Bella – a descriptive and serio comic. The Brothers Hicken – acrobats. The Musical Dots. Messrs Carlin and Price – Black artists. Mr J. Shelley – vocalist and harpist. The Wises, - known as Les Diables, and Herr Klein – who gave a miniature bombardment of Alexandria. The whole performance being thoroughly enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience.

There is a report in the Stage Newspaper of the Friday 3rd May 1900 reporting a fire in which much of the Gaiety Theatre was destroyed. The Theatre at the time was owned by Messrs Cooper and Tullis and leased to Messrs Sawyer and Woodruff. The Theatre had been checked and was safe at 11.20pm, but by 3am the next morning, smoke was seen issuing from the building by PC McLean, who raised the alarm. The Fire station was only a few yards distant, and the Firemen were soon attending the blaze, but favoured by a strong breeze, the flames took hold and the stage, orchestra pit, dressing rooms and property room were destroyed. The Grand Piano was charred to cinders, but the base fiddle belonging to Mr Chaloner was untouched. The building was insured, and the damage estimated at £2000.

The company playing the Gaiety at the time of the fire was Perris and Brogue's, who were in their third week of presenting 'A Trip to Blackpool'. All Scenery, costumes, music and props were lost to the tune of £140 value. They quickly commissioned Messrs Milton Rays to supply new scenery, and Marie Beck the wardrobe mistress was able to replace the costumes. All was ready by Monday, and they were able to open at Crewe that night.

It was planned to replace the Theatre on the same site, but to raise the stage house by four yards, (16 feet) so that scenery could be flown out of sight above the stage.

It took 15 weeks to rebuild, the new Theatre being named The New Prince's Theatre, which reopened on Saturday 22nd December 1900. A great transformation had taken place. Old unsightly roof timbers and wooden uprights supporting them had been removed, and now all occupants of the balconies had an uninterrupted view of the stage. The Theatre had indeed been increased in height and improvements in ventilation made. Fresh air inlets and a Sunburner were introduced, provided by Messrs James Stott and Co of Manchester. Old boarded floors of the pit had been removed and replaced with 'Duffy's' patent wood block flooring laid on a cement concrete floor by Acme Wood Flooring Company (Limited), of Gainsborough Road. London, which was fireproof and noiseless.

Additional emergency exits from the pit were also provided, and it was claimed that the whole house could be emptied in three minutes.
Staircases to the centre circle and balconies were now made from stone enclosed within brick walls. The mezzanine floor and ceiling were of fireproof construction.

The proscenium opening was 28 feet wide by 23 feet high, and had the latest improved iron and asbestos safety curtain fitted. This being supplied by Messrs Merryweather & Sons of London. It could be lowered with the greatest ease almost instantly completely shutting off the stage and auditorium. Merryweather also supplied all the fire hydrants. The proscenium arch and balcony fronts were decorated in bold relief fibrous plaster by Messrs Goodall & Co of Liverpool. The auditorium walls, cornices and frieze were also decorated in fibrous plaster work.

The stage itself – much improved – now had spacious fly floors 33 feet apart. There was a scenic artists' painting bridge and a large grid 50 feet above the stage. The stage itself was 63 feet wide and 40 feet deep (2520 square feet). Eight new dressing rooms had been provided all with necessary conveniences, cut off by iron doors and a corridor. The stage door being in Feeble Street. The new proprietors were Messrs Sawyer and Woodruff, the previous lessees, having purchased the Theatre through their solicitor Messrs Forshaw and Parker.

The rebuild and alterations were by Messrs Whiteside local Preston builders. Sub contractors:- Messrs T. Croft & Sons who supplied brickwork and masonry. Mr W. Dryden – ironfounders work, with seating supplied by Mr Thomas Nickson. Plastering by Messrs Foster & Son of Padiham. Gas fitting and stage lighting by Mr Edge. Plumbing and painting by Messrs Park & Son. All work was carried out under the superintendence of Mr W. Munford – architect of 12 Guildhall Street Preston.

The New Prince's Theatre continued to provide Preston with theatrical entertainment for a number of years. There is reference to the Theatre changing usage to a cinema, certainly by 1941 when it was known as The Prince's Theatre and Opera House, it was screening Alice Faye and Jack Oakie in 'Tin Pan Alley', under Will Onda's ownership. Will Onda started his working life as an acrobat being part of 'The Brother Onda', playing various Music Halls and Variety theatres. He became a pioneer of early film making, his earliest film surviving being 'Empire Day' dated 1909. He set up 'Preston Films' in 1910 and made films for over 30 years. There is a record of him running the local Longridge Palace Cinema in 1913/14. Will Onda also became a Preston Councillor in 1922.

Eventually the Prince's Theatre ceased operation and was demolished in 1964 to make way for a new Buckingham Bingo Hall and the St John's Shopping arcade. There's a photograph of the demolition of the Prince's Theatre, Preston here.

The above article on the Prince's Theatre, Preston was written for this site in 2013 and is © David Garratt.

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

 

The Empire Theatre, Church Street, Preston

Later - New Empire Theatre - Empire Bingo

Architect Edwin Bush's original 1911 drawing of the Empire Theatre, Preston - Preston Digital Archive

Above - Architect Edwin Bush's original 1911 drawing of the Empire Theatre, Preston - Preston Digital Archive

A Poster for a variety show at the Empire Theatre, Preston in July 1911 - Courtesy Paul Bland.The Empire Theatre Preston was located on Church Street at the corner of Tithebarn Street, and opened on the 22nd May 1911 as a Variety Theatre. It was owned by Edwin Bush who was also the architect, being part of the practice of Bush, Hope and Tasker.

The façade of the Theatre was in Bath stone, and the auditorium was decorated in the Renaissance style of Louis X1V. The Theatre sat 3,000 people in orchestral stalls, stalls, circle and gallery. The Proscenium being 32 feet wide.

From the beginning the Theatre was equipped to show early films and news items upon the Bioscope, as part of it's variety bill.

Right - A Poster for a variety show at the Empire Theatre, Preston in July 1911 - Courtesy Paul Bland. On the Bill were Minnie Hunt and Rhys Thomas, Coram, Arthur Young, Gene Morelle, Bertha De Pas (shown below), Rousby & Rene, the Sisters, Jerome, Walter Bellonini, and The Bioscope.

A photograph of Bertha De Pas  - Courtesy Paul Bland

Above - A photograph of Bertha De Pas who is mentioned on the Empire, Preston Poster shown right - Courtesy Paul Bland who says:- 'Bertha was born in 1888 and became a singer under the name of Tots Davis and won the Ally Sloper prize, apparently a gold ring, which her father forbade her to wear. She also obtained a six-month tour to South Africa, which she undertook, chaperoned by her elder sister. On her return, the name Tots Davis was in use by another artiste, so she took her mother’s maiden name and performed as Bertha de Pas, a comedienne. She married in 1920, aged 32, and had two sons. I’m not sure when her career ended, but she died in December, 1978, aged 90' - Paul Bland.

A Variety Programme for the Empire Theatre, Preston for January the 14th 1918 - Courtesy David Sigafus.The Empire Theatre continued to present stage presentations until the 27th August 1927 and was the last Theatre in Preston to covert to full time films.

Left - A Variety Programme for the Empire Theatre, Preston for January the 14th 1918 - Courtesy David Sigafus. On the Bill were Pete and Davis, Norman Partridge, The Edivictas, Tom E. Dean, David Devant, Adkin and Co., and The Dandy Mascots, see details below.

It re-opened as a cinema, now named the 'New Empire Theatre', on the 11th August 1930, after redecoration and improvements had been carried out. A projection box had been built in the gallery which was now closed to the public, but this reduced the capacity to 1,850 seats. The New Empire Theatre was now part of the H. D. Moorhouse circuit of cinema's. A popular film in the 1950's was 'The Quiet Man', and the New Empire was the first cinema to install 'Cinemascope' with a long run of the film 'The Robe'. The cinema still had it's stage facilities however, and there were occasional stage production.

When it was announced that the cinema was to close, the last screening featured Victor Mature in 'The Last Frontier' in 1964. The Theatre then became a Bingo Hall, operated by the Star Cinema's circuit, and was named 'Empire Bingo' on the 13th August 1964 when Pat Phoenix the actress, famous for her role as Elsie Tanner in the TV soap Coronation Street, launched the next phase of this Theatre.

Empire Bingo continued until 1974 and the Theatre then stood empty for the next two years. The demolition hammer came in May 1976 to make way for a shopping complex of retail units. Thus another chapter in Preston's entertainment history came to a close, having provided entertainment for the public of Preston for 65 years.

 

A Variety Programme for the Empire Theatre, Preston for January the 14th 1918 - Courtesy David USA.

Above - A Variety Programme for the Empire Theatre, Preston for January the 14th 1918 - Courtesy David USA. On the Bill were Pete and Davis, Norman Partridge, The Edivictas, Tom E. Dean, David Devant, Adkin and Co., and The Dandy Mascots.

There are some good photographs of the Empire Theatre, from the Preston Digital Archive, here.

The above article on the Empire Theatre, Preston was written for this site in 2013 and is © David Garratt.

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

 

The Hippodrome Theatre, Friargate, Preston

A postcard showing Friargate Street and the Preston Hippodrome

Above - A postcard showing Friargate Street and the Preston Hippodrome

A Poster for 'The Breakaway Review' at the Preston Hippodrome - Courtesy David Garratt. The Hippodrome Theatre was situated in Friargate Preston, and opened on Monday 16th January 1905. The architects were Messrs J. J.Alley, and it was built by local builders. The Theatre was built for, and operated by, Mr William Broadhead as part of his chain of Variety Theatres.

Right - A Poster for 'The Breakaway Review' at the Preston Hippodrome - Courtesy David Garratt. On the Bill were Bobbie Burns, Violet Lane, Eric Le Fern, Tom Crook, Jules, The Fawcett Sisters, Our Page Boys, Bill Smith, Roy Lester, The Amami Girls, Ketta Papucci, Ted Tolan, and Ruth Beaumont. This show was advertised the previous week at the Salford Hippodrome.

The Stage Newspaper of the 19th of January 1905 reports:- 'Mr Wm. Broadhead has added one more to his numerous houses, and has given Preston a building of which it may be proud, and of which it has long felt the need. The appointments of the theatre have been supplied as far as possible by local firms, and are tastefully carried out. In the circle, plush velvet tip-up chairs make this part of the house luxurious, whilst other parts of the house are well looked after, and are very comfortable.' - The Stage 19th January 1905.

All seats had an uninterrupted view of the stage. There were numerous exits reputably making it 'one of the safest buildings of this character'. The décor colour scheme was in red, with novel lighting carried out by Mr J Williams of Broadhead's Manchester Hippodrome, also designed by J. J. Alley.

The iron safety curtain and fire hydrants were installed by Messrs Rose & Co Limited of Salford and the sprinkler system being supplied by Messrs Withers of Bolton. The Theatre orchestra was under the direction of Mr F. Dexter.

The Hippodrome operated a two houses per night system. Upon opening night both houses were packed, and it was proposed to also operate a matinee performance every Monday.

The opening programme starred Mr Charles Coborn (famous for his song 'The Man who broke the bank at Montecarlo') making his first Lancashire appearance since returning from his tour of Canada and the United States of America. Chard's Dogs also appeared, who were listed as featuring jumping, boxing, and wrestling. The Four Maisares appeared in a clever and grotesque musical show. Also on the same bill were, acrobats – the Babusiarios. Davis and Davis – Proveannies (cyclists). Male Impersonator – Marie Winsome. The Louisianian Coloured Seranaders. Winnie Scott, and the showing of the Cinmatograph. The Manager of the Theatre was Mr Percy B. Broadhead assisted by Mr Clement Freeman.

The Theatre continued to present variety, but seems to have changed its name during the 1940's to The Royal Hippodrome, and by 1948 a poster lists the proprietors as being Talbots entertainments Ltd, whose managing Director was Mr Claude Talbot.

 

An early postcard showing Friargate Street and the Preston Hippodrome.Later the Theatre was presenting plays by the Preston Repertory Company, and in 1954 Leonard Rossiter auditioned for the Repertory Company.

Right - An early postcard showing Friargate Street and the Preston Hippodrome.

The Theatre ceased to operate in 1957 and was demolished in 1959. There are some photographs of the Hippodrome being demolished here and here.

The above article on the Hippodrome Theatre, Preston was written for this site in 2013 and is © David Garratt.

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

 

The Kings Palace Theatre, Bishopsgate, Old Vicarage Lane and Tithebarn Street, Preston

Later - The Kings Palace of Music and Pictures

The Kings Palace Theatre was situated on the corner of Bishopsgate, Old Vicarage Lane and Tithebarn Street, in Preston's town centre. The Theatre was built on the site of a former skating rink, by Percy B Broadhead, of the Broadhead Music Hall and Variety Theatre chain, and it opened on the 6th February 1913.

The Theatre's architect was Bertie Crewe, who designed the Theatre in the Louis XlV French Renaissance style, with an audience capacity of 2,559 people. The proscenium arch was supported by colonnades of rouge-et-noir marble, and had painted panels above. The auditorium ceiling contained three domes each containing painted sections.

Unlike other Theatres built of this period the Theatre was not equipped with a Bioscope, but by 1917 the Theatre had been renamed 'The Kings Palace of Music and Pictures', and was showing films. The film programme changing twice per week.

The King's Theatre continued as a cinema until 31st October 1955, when it was converted into a roller skating rink. However this did not last long and the building closed. It then stood empty and unused for eight years. It was mooted to re-open the magnificent Theatre again for live theatrical productions, but the Theatre was eventually purchased by a developer, and demolished to make way for the present bus station and shopping area. A sad ending for such a beautifully decorated Theatre.

There is a wonderful photograph of the Kings Palace Theatre's auditorium here, and one of the exterior here.

The above article on the Kings Palace Theatre, Preston was written for this site in 2013 and is © David Garratt.

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

 

The New Victoria Theatre, 150 Church Street, Preston

Later - The Gaumont Cinema / Odeon / Clouds Nightclub / Lava Ignite

A Google StreetView Image of the Lava Ignite Nightclub, Preston, formerly the New Victoria Cinema - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Lava Ignite Nightclub, Preston, formerly the New Victoria Cinema - Click to Interact


The New Victoria Theatre was built on a site at 150 Church Street Preston, by Provincial Cinematograph Theatres, they had bought an almost completed cinema which they planned to open seating 900 people, and naming it 'The Coliseum'. However they decided to turn this area into the 'crush hall' and employed the architect W. E. Trent to build a large cinema behind this existing structure, opening it on the 17th September 1928. It had a fully equipped stage and cafe. This cinema had 1,450 seats in the stalls and 670 seats in one single balcony. The New Victoria Cinema was also equipped with a Wurlitzer organ, and was opened by Leslie J. Rogers.

In February 1929 Provincial Cinematagraph Theatres were taken over by Gaumont British Theatres. The cinema was renamed 'The Gaumont' but not until 1952.

In 1962 the Gaumont was subdivided and renamed the Odeon, seating 1,229, reopening on the 28th January 1963, with the Norman Wisdom Film 'On the Beat'.

In 1970, Odeon 2 was created by converting the café into a small cinema seating 105 people, and converting the stalls area of the large cinema into a dance hall.

The building closed in September 1992 with the upper parts of the building remaining unused and the dance hall converted to a night club, firstly called 'Clouds' and later, after a £500,000 refurbishment, 'Lava Ignite'.

The above article on the New Victoria Theatre, Preston was written for this site in 2013 and is © David Garratt.

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

 

The Temple of Artists, Grimshaw Street, Preston


The Temple of Artists was situated in Grimshaw Street Preston, built in 1834 by Mr Ryan, proprietor of the Royal Circus in Bristol and Birmingham.

It was a spacious building, erected by Mr Ryan we are told, 'at immense expense' under the direction of Mr Atkins the amphitheatre architect. The building contained a circus ring, equal to the London Amphitheatre, and had a slate roof. It had a Dress Circle of Private boxes, fitted with much consideration to comfort, convenience, and elegance. The seats were stuffed and covered in scarlet cloth. Above this circle was a secondary circle of public boxes, there also being a gallery above and a commodious Pit on the ground floor.

The interior decoration was in costly style by London artists, displaying numberless emblematic banners, i.e. - 'Banners of the four quarters of the Globe' - 'The flags and banners of all Nations' by Mr Dannon. The whole auditorium covered with a 'French Ceiling' beautifully painted from which were suspended four elegant chandeliers.

A local advert in the Preston Chronicle of 1st November 1834 announced that the whole company and Stud would move to Preston to take up residence immediately after the closure of the Bristol Royal Circus.

This advert goes on to list the following forthcoming attractions:- 'The Battle of Waterloo and Quatre Bass.'- Chivalrous Cavalry'. - 'The Spanish Bull Fight.' - 'Cupid in the Soot Bag.' - 'Jack the Giant Killer.' - A petite equestrian military anecdote entitled 'The Emperor'. - 'The Miller and his Men.' - 'Knights of Palestine.' - 'Animated Adventure on 3 Horses.' - 'Venetian Statues.' - 'Brentford election (or a vote for his place).' - 'The Champion on his War Horse.' with a display of brilliant fireworks and 'A Variety of pieces of Horsemanship.'

There was also to be Rope Dancing by Mrs Mosby. The company was listed as including Miss Hengler, Messrs Ryan, Chapman, Bridges, Wilkinson, and master Hengler, ' whose number of Lofty Somersets on a rope cannot be equalled by any performer in the Kingdom.'

It was also announced that a Riding Master would be available, experienced in breaking horses, who was available to instruct the Ladies and Gentlemen of Preston in the polite Art of Riding, and tutor horses either for the road or field. Terms were available at the Box Office.

A grand Parade of the whole Stud and Performers would take place upon their arrival in Preston.

Prices were as follows. Private Dress Boxes at 2/6 pence (30p today)
Second Tier Boxes at 1/6 pence (7.5 pence today).
Pit at 1/- (5p today)
Gallery at 6 pence (2.5 p today).

The above article on the Temple of Artists, Preston was written for this site in 2013 and is © David Garratt.

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

Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.

 

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