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The Music Hall and Theatre History Site
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Theatres in Reading, Berkshire

The Hexagon Theatre - The Mill at Sonning - The Progress Theatre - The Palace Theatre - The Everyman Theatre / Theatre Royal - The Royal County Theatre / New County Theatre / Prince's Theatre of Varieties / Theatre Royal and Albert Hall

The Hexagon Theatre, Queens Walk, Reading

A Google StreetView Image of the Hexagon Theatre, Reading - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Hexagon Theatre, Reading - Click to Interact

The Hexagon Theatre is situated in Queens Walk, Reading and was built in 1977. The Theatre was designed by the architect Robert Matthew of Johnson-Marshall and Partners, who were also the designers of the Royal Festival Hall in London, and built to provide a new theatre space after the former Palace Theatre in Reading was demolished in 1961. The name of the Theatre comes from the Hexagonal shape of the building.

The Hexagon's auditorium has five cantilevered balconies situated around three sides, and another three sides of seating behind the stage, and the Foyer spaces were very generous for a new Theatre build. The Theatre was designed to be able to house theatre, exhibitions, conferences and film presentations, and could be converted from a regular proscenium Theatre to a concert hall with the use of its very flexible proscenium which could be raised or lowered and its width enlarged or reduced. When it opened the Theatre had 686 permanent seats in its balconies and 218 retractable seats in the stalls. Today the Theatre can accommodate 946 for theatre performances, 1,200 for seated concerts, and over 1,600 for standing events.

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The Mill at Sonning, Sonning Eye, Reading

A Google StreetView Image of the Mill at Sonning Theatre - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Mill at Sonning Theatre - Click to Interact

The Theatre at the Mill At Sonning was created in 1982 by the architects Frank and Tim Richards, and is housed in a the former 18th century Sonning Water Mill, situated on the banks of the River Thames in very picturesque surroundings. Designed as a Dinner Theatre the auditorium was constructed on a single rake with six rows of seats around its thrust stage, with serving areas either side. The Theatre today has a capacity of over 200 and is home to around nine productions a year.

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The Progress Theatre, The Mount, Christchurch Road, Reading

A Google StreetView Image of the Progress Theatre, Reading - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Progress Theatre, Reading - Click to Interact

The Progress Theatre is situated in on the Mount, Christchurch Road, Reading and is close to Reading University. The Theatre opened in October 1951 and is home to a voluntary charitable theatre Company in existence since 1946. The Theatre seats just under 100 people.

In 1964 the Progress Theatre Company, established in 1962, bought the Theatre's Freehold and built a new Foyer for the Theatre. The Company is actively involved with education in the Arts and has its own Youth Theatre group.

You may like to visit the Theatre's own Website here.

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The Palace Theatre, Cheapside, Reading

An early photograph of the Palace Theatre, Reading - From a variety programme for the Theatre in 1909

Above - An early photograph of the Palace Theatre, Reading - From a variety programme for the Theatre in 1909

A Variety programme for the Palace Theatre, Reading for the week beginning August the 2nd 1909.The Palace Theatre was situated on Cheapside in Reading and opened on Monday the 30th of September 1907 with a twice nightly variety show. The Theatre was designed in the Adam Style by the well known Theatre Architect W. G. R. Sprague, and its auditorium, which was decorated in enameled white and red, consisted of Stalls and Pit, Circle and Gallery, and two boxes either side of the proscenium. Six dressing rooms and three chorus rooms were provided which could accommodate sixty artists.

Right - A Variety programme for the Palace Theatre, Reading for the week beginning August the 2nd 1909. On the Bill were Belle Brocade, Vasey and Ramsey, Mona Garrick, Mr. and Mrs. Royston-Dene, Chas. Lilburn, Bent and Gerda, Lilian Elfreda, Captain Taylor's Baboons, Dogs and Pony, and the Palace Bioscope.

The Stage Newspaper reported on the newly opened Theatre and its opening variety show in their 3rd of October 1907 edition saying:- 'This new handsome addition to the amusement houses in the provinces was opened on Monday evening under the happiest auguries for future success. The building was packed at both performances, whilst thousands of residents came abroad to admire the brightly-illuminated structure. Mr. G. Howard Watson is the managing director, and extended a hearty welcome to all visitors at the opening performance. Mr. Watson's resident representative is Mr. E. Draco.

Reading is a populous town, and Mr. W. G. R. Sprague, the architect, has designed a very commodious hall. The front is built of grey stone, and five brilliant arc lamps serve greatly to advertise the cheerful character of the place. Within, the decorative scheme is of enamelled white and red. There is a spacious stall area, with an extensive pit at the rear, a sweeping and ample circle, and a large gallery, two boxes flanking the proscenium on either side. The stage accommodation is excellent, and every provision has been made for the comfort of artists. An alert orchestra has been secured, and the programme on Monday was rattled through with all the expedition associated with a house long since open. The management are to be congratulated on a music hall that would do credit to the West End of London.

There were only a few professional visitors on the opening night, and, strange to say, only two agents, Mr. Ernest & Aplin and Mr.Charles Chapman. This was probably due to the fact that few notifications or announcements of the opening were made. A programme of general excellence has been provided. The Martelloni Troupe of lady acrobats occupy a leading place on the bill, and give a marvelous performance. Miss Daisy Morrell becomes a favourite at once, her coon song and patter having a great reception. Seims is responsible for a good turn, in which be does some very clever coin and card tricks. The Three Phydoras give a very clever and amusing turn in their musical novelty act. Emlyn Jones and company score well with their Empire songs. The Three Sisters Jerome dance with great success. The Herald Comedy Four deserve the applause they get. Rowland Hill is a cleverly quaint comedian. Harry Thurston gives a good turn. The programme is concluded by the Palace Bioscope.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Stage Newspaper, 3rd October 1907.

The Palace Theatre opened on Monday the 30th of September 1907 with twice nightly variety and went on in the same vein for many years, although it also presented plays, revues and later, repertory theatre. In 1935 Oscar Deutsch bought the Theatre so that he could use the passageway beside it for part of the new Odeon Theatre he was building next door, but the Palace continued to be run by independent managements as a variety Theatre afterwards.

Members of the cast of a variety show pose for a photograph on stage at the Palace Theatre, Reading in August / September 1957 - Sparrow Harrison collection.

Above - Members of the cast of a variety show pose for a photograph on stage at the Palace Theatre, Reading in August / September 1957 - Sparrow Harrison collection. In the photo are Leslie [Hutch] Hutchinson in the centre, with the singer Penny Nicholls holding his arm, Edgar John Perrett is standing far left, Max Miller is next to him, second from left, Cyril Fletcher is standing next but one to Hutch. Others are as yet not identified but The Stage for that week, 30th of August 1957, lists the artists appearing at the Palace Theatre as Max Miller, Hutch, Penny Nicholls, Frieda Hall, Five Sherwoods, and Tattersall & Jerry - Thanks to the Max Miller Appreciation Society and Steve Perrett for this information, and Maurice Poole for sending along the photo.

A Poster for 'The One and Only Billy Russell' at the Palace Theatre, reading in 1940 - Courtesy Tony KnightA programme for a 'Bandstand' production, by arrangement with the BBC, at the Palace Theatre, Reading for the week commencing September the 20th 1943.In 1939 the Palace Theatre was taken over by the owners of the Royal County Theatre in Reading after their own Theatre had been destroyed by fire in January 1937.

Right - A Poster for 'The One and Only Billy Russell' at the Palace Theatre, reading in 1940 - Courtesy Tony Knight who says 'The 'Go To It' Company used the wartime slogan coined by the Minister of Supply at the time, Herbert Morrison. Information about the production can be found on the Nov 25th reminiscence in todaysmemoir.net. And A programme for a 'Bandstand' production, by arrangement with the BBC, at the Palace Theatre, Reading for the week commencing September the 20th 1943. On the Bill were Billy Rhodes & Chika Lane with 'Anything for a Laugh', Josie Fearon & Charles Gillespie billed as 'Radio's Famous Musical Comedy Stars', and the "Tunis Story" a musical production written by Harry Bright with Jean Mariajanos, Josie Fearon, Teddy Foster, Chika Lane, Daphne Mariajonoa, Herbert Lomas, Bruce Fairwaether, Charles Gillespie, Billy Rhodes, and Scott Sanders. The Palace Orchestra was under the direction of Jimmy Carroll.

A Variety Programme for 'Go To It' at the Palace Theatre of Varieties, Reading, whilst under the control of County Theatre (Reading) Ltd - Courtesy Roy Cross.By the 1950s, like so many Theatres around the Country, business dropped off because of television and the Theatre began showing nude reviews and poorly attended variety shows. By the late 1950s the writing was on the wall for this Theatre and the final performance at the Palace was the Christmas show 'Babes in the Wood' on the 9th of January 1960.

The Palace Theatre was demolished in 1961 and an office building was constructed on its site.

Left - A Variety Programme for 'Go To It' at the Palace Theatre of Varieties, Reading, whilst under the control of County Theatre (Reading) Ltd - Courtesy Roy Cross.

Alan Chudley writes:- 'I knew this Theatre very well, it was almost the same as the New Theatre, Northampton, having the same architect and builders. Over the entrance to the Theatre was an attractive half dome shaped glass and iron canopy. During the war years and for a few years afterwards this Theatre presented big name Variety and played to very good business, but by 1950 it had become a number two date and not doing so well. In the Photo Cyril Fletcher is standing next to Hutch but one, both were great favourites at Reading. The last Pantomime, Babes in the Woods was presented by Stanley Watson who had been managing director of Kingshot Theatres.' - Alan Chudley.

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The Everyman Theatre, London Street, Reading

Formerly - Mechanics Institutte / The Theatre Royal / New Hall

A Google StreetView Image of the former Theatre Royal / Everyman Theatre, Reading - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the former Theatre Royal / Everyman Theatre, Reading - Click to Interact

The Great Expectations Hotel in London Street, Reading is situated in a Grade II Listed building with a long theatrical history. It began life as a Literary, Scientific and Mechanic's Institute in 1843 but was converted into a Theatre ten years later by constructing a new proscenium and opening it as the Theatre Royal New Hall in 1853.

In the 1860s the Theatre's audiences were dwindling however, and the building was sold to the Primitive Methodists and became a chapel. The chapel was in use for many years but it was eventually closed and left unused until the Everyman Theatre Company, which was formed in 1949, persuaded the local Council to sell them the building.

The Everyman Theatre consequently opened on Easter Monday 1952 but the Everyman Company itself got into financial difficulties soon after and in 1957 the building was taken over by the Council who let it to the occasional amateur theatre company.

The building was sold to the Reading Newspaper Company in April 1960 and has had various uses since, currently it is an Hotel but the exterior of the building remains in its original form, and the foyer and plasterwork can still be seen even today.

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The Royal County Theatre, Friar Street, Reading

Formerly - The Theatre Royal and Albert Hall / Princes Theatre of Varieties / New County Theatre

An early 1900s postcard showing the Royal County Theatre, Reading

Above - An early 1900s postcard showing the Royal County Theatre, Reading

The Royal County Theatre was situated on Friar Street, Reading and first opened on the 20th of June 1887. The Theatre was a reconstruction of the former Theatre Royal and Albert Hall, which had been destroyed by fire in 1874. The ERA reported on the opening of the Royal County Theatre in their 11th of June 1887 edition saying:- 'The extensive alterations which have been for some time in progress at the Reading Theatre are now on the eve of completion, and the building will be reopened, under the above designation, on June 20th, when Mr Galer's With the colours company will commence a six nights' engagement, for the "grand Jubilee opening" performances.

The interior of the theatre has been entirely reconstructed, under the direction of the proprietor, Mr Elliot Galer, the outer walls being all that now remain of the old Theatre Royal and Albert Hall. The alterations have been effected from the designs of Mr F. W. Albury, the contractor for the work being Mr W. H. Simonds, builder, of Reading, and have made the house one of the prettiest and best arranged in the United Kingdom, the latest and best inventions and appliances having been adopted in all the departments.

The auditorium is now of the orthodox horseshoe shape, a great improvement on the inconvenient meeting-house style of the old building. The auditorium consists of pit, and balcony, and gallery tiers, and affords ample accommodation for an audience of 1,500. The stage has been much enlarged; and is now capacious enough for the adequate representation of the most elaborate scenic and spectacular effects. It has been fitted up, under the supervision of Mr Worthington, stage-carpenter, with all the modern appliances; call doors are placed in the proscenium, the newest lighting apparatus has been introduced for the battens, and lime-light (see note below) tanks beneath the stage will prove a great convenience. A 3in. water-main is laid on to the stage for use in case of fire, and, in fact, every possible means have been taken to make the arrangements complete and perfect in all particulars. The dressing-rooms are numerous and roomy, and are fitted up with every convenience.

The theatre has been most tastefully and artistically decorated by Mr E. Bell, of London; and a handsome sun-light and stained-glass dome-light add greatly to the effect of the embellishments. The pit is very capacious, and, with the exception of three rows of pit-stalls, occupies the whole of the area. It affords accommodation for about 500 spectators.

From the principal entrance a wide staircase leads to the dress-circle and first-circle seats, and also to the private boxes. The seats in the dress circle are upholstered in maroon repp, by Messrs Perkins, Long, and Tyler, of Leicester. Behind these seats are a spacious foyer, retiring-rooms, manager's office, &c. The gallery is comfortably fitted up, and an excellent view of the stage can be obtained from all the seats. Refreshment-bars are situated in the basement of the building, which will be easily accessible to the occupants of the stalls and pit. The theatre will be warmed throughout by hot-water apparatus, supplied by Mr Jenson, of Leeds. The gas mains and appliances have been fitted by Mr J. Tollerton, of Leeds, under the superintendence of Mr Greenwood. Mr H. Wright, of Reading, has supplied the gas-fittings.

Ample means of exit have been arranged for in the case of panic; three extra doors, all opening outwards, are placed in the area, and the other parts of the house are well provided for. The scenery is being specially painted by Mr Carl Frampton, the talented scenic artist of the Royal Opera House, Leicester. Mr Frank Attwells has secured a lease from Mr Galer, and is sole lessee and manager of the theatre. Mr Attwells has engaged Mr Welbye Wallace, a gentleman well-known in the profession, as acting-manager. For the opening performances arrangements have been made with the Great Western, South Western, and South Eastern Railway companies to run special late trains. Mr Attwells has already made arrangements for the appearance of many of the leading touring companies, and we hope that his spirited enterprise will meet with the success which it deserves, and that a term of prosperity is in store for the New Reading Theatre.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 11th June 1887.

Note: An amendment was carried in the ERA on the 25th of June 1887 correcting a statement about the Lime Light Tanks in the above article saying:- 'The Limelight in Theatres - To the Editor of the ERA - Sir, Please oblige by correcting an inaccuracy in my description of the New Royal County Theatre, Reading, which appeared in The ERA of June 11th. I am informed that the limlight tanks, instead of being under the stage, are place in a perfectly placed safe position outside the main walls of the building. As my statement drew forth a letter from Mr. Simpson, Theatre Royal, Birmingham, in your last issue, a correction will oblige. - Your Reading Correspondent.' - The ERA, 25th of June 1887.

The Royal County Theatre opened on the 20th of June 1887 with a production by the 'With the Colours' Company. A few years later in September 1893 the Theatre was renamed the Prince's Theatre of Varieties, having been completely renovated and redecorated, but was destroyed by fire only a year later on the 25th of August 1894 whilst under the management of H. B. Ormbsy Trench.

Later that year Ormbsy Trench applied for a renewal of the dramatic License for the Theatre stating that if it was granted he would be engaging the architect Frank Matcham to reconstruct the building at a cost of some £4,000. The License was duly approved and work on the building soon commenced. This involved an almost complete rebuild by the local Wheeler Brothers, all carried out, as stated above, to the designs of the now renowned Theatre Architect, Frank Matcham.

The Theatre reopened the following year, on the 16th of September 1895, as The New County Theatre with a production of "Wingfield's Operatic Extravaganza" 'The Water Babes' and on opening could accommodate some 1,800 people. Shortly before the Theatre opened the ERA reported on the building in their 31st of August 1895 edition saying:- 'This new building, the property of Mr H. B. Ormsby Trench, has been erected upon the site of the old Prince's Theatre, Friar-street, and will be opened to the public on Sept. 16th next, under the management of the proprietor. The work has been carried out from the designs and under the supervision of Mr Frank Matcham, theatre architect, of London, who has retained only certain walls and a portion of the roof of the old structure. This plan necessitated very careful treatment in the design, especially in the front elevation to Friar-street. When it is considered that the original building was a church designed in severe-pointed Gothic, the difficulty that occurred in transforming this into the semblance of a theatre will be seen. The architect, however, has modified and altered the elevation, and by a judicious use of carved cement work transformed the whole into a very striking and attractive front in Flemish design. The old steep pitch roof has been altered internally, and effectively treated with a flat ornamental fibrous plaster ceiling, with an enriched cove at the sides, so that all appearance of a Gothic design has been effaced, and an entirely new and up-to-date theatre has been obtained.

The whole of the entrances are from Friar-street. Here a handsome glass and iron verandah will be continued along the entire length of the building, forming a shelter from inclement weather for all patrons of the house, and lighted up as it will be with electricity will form a very attractive feature in Friar-street. The principal entrance to stalls and dress-circle is in the centre of the building. Here a very handsome effect is obtained by a lobby having an enriched arched ceiling with the walls covered with tiles. Pairs of polished mahogany doors with bevelled edge plate glass panels open into a triangular shaped vestibule having tiled floors and a beautiful carved ceiling, the walls being covered with leather paper. The beauty of this entrance will be enhanced by the addition of mirrors and palms and ferns, with rockeries and dripping waters, the whole lighted with subdued red electric lamps, giving quite an Eastern effect. From the vestibule the stalls are approached by similarly decorated corridors, and a stone staircase conducts the visitor to the dress-circle. To the right of this staircase a ladies' sitting room is arranged over the entrance vestibule, luxuriously fitted up with settees and mirrors, and furnished with every convenience.

At the top of this staircase is Mr Trench's office, and to the left is the refreshment saloon, which is something quite unique in character. It is a long room with a circular enriched ceiling having enriched openings at each end, with galleries, the openings draped with rich plush curtains. This room is beautifully fitted up with lounges. The walls are covered with leather paper, the floor carpeted, and the bar counter fittings and wood finished in white and gold.

The dress-circle is approached through a wide corridor and by draped entries on each side with four private boxes at the rear of the dress circle seats. The private boxes are admirably placed, and are approached through a luxuriously fitted and decorated lounge. The dress-circle is carried round the sides and terminated with two large stage private boxes next the proscenium.

The stalls and dress-circle are fitted with velvet covered tip-up seats, the floors carpeted, and ceilings richly decorated, and the walls covered with leather paper. The pit entrance is from Friar-street, and a wide corridor leads direct to the rear of the pit, which is furnished with upholstered seats. There is also a large and conveniently placed bar and every convenience in conjunction with same.

The gallery contains twelve rows of seats, and is well planned for sight and ventilation. It has a lofty ceiling, and is approached by a fireproof staircase on one side and has a similar staircase on the other side, which thus gives two separate exits from this part of the house. The gallery bar is over the dress-circle bar, and can be approached from both sides of the gallery. The architect has given every attention to the means of exit, each part of the auditorium having in no case less than two exits. These lead into Friar-street and to the private road at the side, the doors being fitted with Briggs's patent alarm exit bolts.

Perhaps the greatest improvement over the old building is the stage, the dimensions of which are more than ample for such a theatre. It is fitted up with the usual traps and bridges, with sufficient height up to the grid to take all cloths, &c., up without rolling, and is lighted by electricity. The dressing-rooms at the rear of the stage are numerous, comfortable, and fitted with every convenience. Hydrants are placed in the most convenient positions, and everything that experience and money can command has been done for the comfort and safety of the public and artists. A special word of congratulation must be given to the architect for his scheme of decoration and upholstery. This work has been carried out in the most artistic manner. The ceiling is divided by mouldings and richly decorated panels, from which drop the electric light fittings. The front of the dress-circle is divided out with shields and decorations, in which the electric light is introduced. The front of the gallery, private boxes, and proscenium have all been designed so as to form a complete decoration scheme, which, with the luxurious plush draperies, tableaux curtains, electric lighting, &c., will form one of the prettiest theatres in the kingdom.

The whole of the work has been carried out in a very short space of time, under the superintendence of the architect, assisted by Mr J. P. Briggs as clerk of works. The well known local firm of Wheeler Brothers have successfully carried out the building construction. The Plastic Decoration Company and Messrs Dejong and Co., London, are responsible for the fibrous plaster work and painting decorations. Messrs Crisp, of London, have upholstered and carpeted the building Messrs Broadbridge, of Brighton, having provided the seating. The electric lighting has been successfully introduced by Messrs Hall and Co., of Pangbourne Goodall and Sisley, the sanitary work; Mr C. Love grove, the gas and heating and hydrants; and Messrs Childs the stained glass work.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 31st of August 1895.

The ERA also reported on the opening of the new Royal County Theatre in their 21st of September 1895 edition saying:- 'The fine building erected, through the enterprise of Mr H. B. Ormsby Trench, to replace the old Royal County Theatre which was completely destroyed by fire just over a year ago, was opened with great éclat on Monday, when a crowded and enthusiastic audience assembled to express their appreciation of the popular proprietor's public spirit and undaunted exertions.

An early 1900s postcard showing the Royal County Theatre, Reading.The building is on the site of Mr Trench's old Prince's Theatre, but the alterations effected have completely transformed the building from a very ordinary "hall" to one of the prettiest and best arranged theatres in the kingdom.

Left - An early 1900s postcard showing the Royal County Theatre, Reading.

The improvements have been carried out in a little over three months, and it is hardly to be credited that such a thorough change could have been effected in such a very limited space of time. It speaks wonders for the energy which must have been thrown into the work by all concerned in the re-erection. Mr Frank Matcham, the eminent theatrical architect, has excelled himself in the admirable design he has carried out with the assistance of Mr J. P. Briggs, who has been most assiduous as clerk of the works. Messrs Wheeler Brothers are the contractors for the building construction, the Plastic Decoration Company have undertaken the plaster work, the painting and decoration having been done by Messrs De Jong, of London.

The theatre is of the usual horseshoe shape, with dress-circle and gallery tiers, and will seat 1,800 spectators, all of whom will obtain an uninterrupted view of the stage, as the work of construction has been carried out without the aid of a single pillar. As a detailed description of the building has already appeared in our columns, (see above) it is unnecessary to give any further particulars, except to say that every possible arrangement has been made to secure the comfort both of the patrons of the theatre and also of the artistes behind the scenes. Special attention has been paid to the ventilation of the building, and means have been found, by the use of revolving fans, to admit the pure and expel the vitiated air without causing a draught. The refreshment buffets are well fitted up and conveniently situated.

Messrs Mackinder and Wingfield's burlesque company were engaged for the opening performances with the operatic burlesque The Water Babes. The raising of the magnificent plush curtain disclosed the members of the company, in costume, with Madame Evelyn (from Covent-garden Theatre) in the centre, who rendered the solo of the National Anthem in excellent style, the chorus being heartily taken up by the audience.

Between the acts Mr Trench appeared before the curtain, and had an enthusiastic reception. He thanked the audience for their attendance and appreciation of his efforts, and said be had already made arrangements for the appearance of a succession of the best companies on the road. He had received a large number of congratulatory telegrams and letters from all parts of the world, including one from Mr Murdoch, M.P. for the borough, who regretted his inability to attend, and others from Sir Augustus Harris and Mr Henry Dundas, the late lessee of the Royal County Theatre, who both wished him every success. He thanked all who had worked so hard in carrying out the alterations to the theatre; making special mention of Mr Frank Matcham, the architect, and Mr Briggs, clerk of the works; Mr Sam Wheeler, the builder, and his indefatigable business-manager, Mr F. Bramah Diplock. Mr Trench's remarks were enthusiastically applauded, and he was recalled to receive further manifestations of goodwill.

The operatic extravaganza, The Water Babes, proved an excellent choice for the inaugural performances, and caused a vast amount of amusement. The local management mounted the play in a most elaborate manner, the special scenery being very effective, while the costumes were rich and tasteful. Mr Louis Kelleher was highly diverting as the Smuggler Captain, Mr George De Lara worked very hard as the Wicked "Dook," Mr Guy Drury was capital as Cockshaw, the detective; Mr Ridgewood Barrie was droll as Lawyer Sharp, Mr Maitland Dicker created great hilarity as Angelina, Mr G. Fearnley as Captain Marjoram and Mr J. W. Brighten as the Gaoler, both acted in good style, and Miss Alice Ravenscroft was graceful as Conrad, her quaint plantation song and dance in the second act being one of the most successful items of the performance. Miss Ada Hollingsworth as Phoebe, Miss Leslie Ross as Belinda, and Miss Mattie Fergusson, Miss Muriel Tilley, Miss Ida Dexter as some of the crew were all charming. The Misses Frances Burns and May Raine contributed a graceful dance in the costumes of fisher girls, and the ladies of the chorus added greatly to the success by their attractive appearance and excellent singing. Mr J. H. Yorke was an efficient conductor, and Mr J. H. Wilson a capable leader of the band. During the evening "The New Royal County March," specially composed by Mr Haves Evans, was played by the orchestra. The Water Babes has been successfully repeated each evening this week, and a special matinee will be given to-day.

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 21st September 1895.

Fire was to plague this Theatre over the years, the first Theatre on the site, the Theatre Royal and Albert Hall, was destroyed by fire in 1874, then it successor, the Royal County Theatre, later the Prince's Theatre of Varieties, was destroyed by fire on the 25th of August 1894, and then the newly built County Theatre, which opened in 1895 was itself destroyed by fire on the 7th of January 1937.

This proved to be the end of the site's theatrical history and the remains of the Theatre were later demolished and the site cleared for the building of a Department Store by A H Bull. Later taken over by William Heelas as a furniture store this too apparently burnt down in the 1970s.

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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