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Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

Theatres in Rotherham, South Yorkshire

The Civic Theatre - The Empire Theatre - The Hippodrome Theatre - The Theatre Royal / Regent Theatre

See also in this area - Sheffield Theatres - York Theatres

The Civic Theatre, Doncaster Gate and Catherine Street, Rotherham

A Google StreetView Image of the Civic Theatre, Rotherham - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Civic Theatre, Rotherham - Click to Interact

The Civic Theatre is situated on the corner of Doncaster Gate and Catherine Street in Rotherham and opened on the 7th of March 1960 with a production of 'Pride and Predudice' by the local Rotherham Rep Company. The Theatre was a conversion from the former Doncaster Gate Congregational Chapel, built in 1867. The Civic, which cost some £30,000 to convert from its former church use, has been home to amateur and professional theatrical Companies for the last 50 years.

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

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

The Empire Theatre, Westgate, Rotherham

Later - The Empire Picture House / Essoldo / Classic

A Google StreetView Image of the former Empire Theatre, Rotherham - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the former Empire Theatre, Rotherham - Click to Interact

The Empire Theatre is situated in Westgate at the corner of the High Street in Rotherham and first opened on Monday the 15th of December 1913. The Theatre was constructed by George Longdon and Son of Sheffield, and designed by Chadwick and Watson of Leeds, who also designed the earlier Hippodrome in Rotherham and the Empire, Dewsbury, and Alhambra, Bradford. The Rotherham Empire Theatre originally had a main entrance with a white Faience tiled Facade on three stories, and a wonderful entrance foyer with a Terrazzo mosaic floor and marble steps. The Theatre's proscenium arched Italian Renaissance auditorium was constructed on three levels, stalls, circle, and balcony, with four boxes, and could accommodate some 1,500 people.

The Empire opened as a 'twice nightly' variety Theatre and was equipped to show film presentations as part of its programming right from the start. The Theatre has undergone many changes over the years. In 1921 the Theatre's auditorium was altered for full time Cinema use and it reopened on May the 2nd the same year as the Empire Picture House. Sound projection equipment was installed in 1929 and the Theatre was leased to ABC until 1939. In 1954 the Theatre was taken over by Essoldo and Cinemascope was installed, but it wasn't renamed Essoldo until the following year, 1955. In 1958 a fire damaged much of the Theatre's Balcony and roof.

In 1972 the name was changed to Classic after Classic Cinemas took it over. Then in 1974 the circle and balcony were both closed off and the stalls area was converted into a new modern Classic Cinema opening in March the same year. In 1978, under the ownership of Cannon Cinemas, the stage was partitioned off and sublet and a new small cinema with 314 seats was created in the former balcony. Both this and the stalls cinema were closed on the 22nd of February 1990.

The building later became a nightclub and was even used for warehouse storage. Little remains of the original Theatre today although the facade still stands much as it first looked.

Some of the information for this Theatre was supplied with the kind permission of Colin Sutton.

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

The Hippodrome Theatre, Henry Street, Rotherham

An early postcard showing the Hippodrome, Rotherham.The Hippodrome Theatre was situated in Henry Street, Rotherham and first opened on the 3rd of August 1908. The Theatre was designed by Chadwick and Watson of Leeds, who also designed the later Empire in Rotherham and the Empire, Dewsbury, and Alhambra, Bradford. The Theatre was built as a variety Theatre and was equipped from the start to be able to show early film presentations.

The Theatre facade was Italian Renaissance in design with two large domes on top, and its entrance foyer had a marble mosaic floor. The Georgian style auditorium was constructed on three levels, stalls and pit, circle, gallery, and boxes, and could accommodate some 2,500 people on opening.

Right - An early postcard showing the Hippodrome, Rotherham.

In July 1932 the Theatre closed down for alteration into a Cinema, reopening with a redecorated auditorium and fan shaped screen surround on the 17th of October 1932. Seating capacity had been reduced to 1,800 with the conversion.

In 1955 the Theatre was converted for Cinemascope and it reopened on the 5th of November the same year. But a few years later the building was bought by Rotherham Council so that they could build a new Civic Centre on the site. The Theatre was demolished the following year, 1960.

Some of the information for this Theatre was supplied with the kind permission of Colin Sutton.

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

The Theatre Royal, Howard Street and Nottingham Street, Rotherham

Formerly - The Theatre Royal, Ellingham Street - Later - The Royal Picture House / The Regent Theatre / Regent Theatre of Varieties

The Theatre Royal was situated at the junction of Howard Street and Nottingham Street in Rotherham and opened with a production of 'Manhood' on Monday the 1st of January1894. The Theatre replaced the former semi wooden Theatre Royal in Ellingham Street which had lost its Licence whilst under the management of Edward Darbey a year earlier. Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed at this early Theatre Royal on October the 6th 1890.

After the early Theatre Royal lost its Licence Edward Darbey commissioned the architect Joseph Platts to produce Plans for a replacement Theatre in Howard Street and Nottingham Street on land he had recently purchased. The plans were first approved in January 1893. The ERA reported on the proposed Theatre in their 21st of January 1893 edition saying:- 'Rotherham will ere long be in possession of a theatre which will be in every way worthy of the town. Since the condemnation by the West Riding surveyor of the old building, and the refusal of the General Purposes Committee of the County Council to renew the licence, Mr Edward Darbey, the enterprising lessee, has had several schemes under consideration. At length his efforts have been crowned with success. He has now secured an advantageous and centrally situated site at the junction of Howard-street and Nottingham-street.

Plans for a new structure have been prepared, and on Wednesday, 11th inst., they received the approval of the General Purposes Committee of the West Riding County Council, which was presided over by Colonel Mackie. Mr Darbey was accompanied by Mr J. Platts, architect, of Rawmarsh, who had made the plans. Mr Edwards, the West Riding surveyor, explained to the committee that the theatre was to be built on an entirely new site in the centre of Rotherham. The position was a good one. He had carefully gone through the plans, and they appeared to him to be quite in order.

Colonel Mackie - Is it to be a wooden structure?
Mr Edwards - Oh, no, sir. It is to be a very substantial building, costing several thousand pounds.
Colonel Mackie - Then the plans comply with our standing orders?
Mr Edwards said, as far as he could judge, the plans were in accordance with the County Council requirements. The plans, which are of an exceedingly compact character, and a credit to the architect, were then approved.

The building itself will be in the Renaissance style, the material to be used being brick with stone dressings, relieved at various points with terra cotta work. It will be a most substantial and attractive-looking structure, and an ornament to that part of the town in which it is to be erected. To obtain a site sufficiently extensive, Mr Darbey has had, or will have, to purchase some of the adjoining property - several houses in Nottingham-street and about five cottages in a court off Howard-street. The building of the theatre will doubtless be followed by a very desirable street improvement. As is well known, the thoroughfare - Howard-street - is considerably narrower at the top than it is up to the point leading into Nottingham-street, and Mr Darbey intends setting his theatre back so as to come in a line with Howard-street. Such an arrangement would enable the corporation to widen the road, and thus carry out an improvement which has long been desirable.

The building, exclusive of land and furnishing, will cost about £3,000, and the total expenditure will be something like £7,000. It is to accommodate upwards of 1,500. No less than nine exits are to be provided, by means of which the "house" could be cleared in a minute. There are to be dress and centre circle, two private boxes, side balconies, pit, and stalls, the entrances to the whole of which will be in Nottingham-street. Altogether seven doors will come into this thoroughfare. The proscenium will have a twenty-eight feet opening, while the arrangements for the players are to be very acceptable. Refreshment rooms are to be provided for each part of the "house," and in the gallery there will be a ladies' cloak-room, and other necessary conveniences for the different sections of the audience. The exit doors will he principally in Howard-street, but there will be an alarm exit from the stalls and two stage exits into Nottingham-street.

Between the end of the theatre and the adjacent property in the latter thoroughfare there will be a six feet passage leading to the dressing-rooms - six in number. The appliances to be used in the event of fire are to be most complete. The ventilation and sanitary arrangements are also worthy of mention, special attention having been paid to these matters by the architect. As already indicated, the structure will be of a somewhat imposing description. At each angle of the building in Howard-street there will be a flank to form towers, with Mansard roofs. Inside the height will be 36ft. On the furnishing a considerable sum is to be expended.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 21st January1893.

Construction of the Theatre Royal was begun in July 1893 and by December that year the ERA were reporting on the the building saying:- 'Mr Darbey is to be congratulated on his enterprise in providing a theatre at once worthy of the town of Rotherham and of his reputation as a theatrical entrepreneur. Five months ago the work was commenced an the site at the corner of Nottingham and Howard-streets, and the theatre is now complete in almost every detail. It is a capacious and handsome erection built of pressed brick, with an an abundance of Horton stone dressings, pediments, &c., in the renaissance style of architecture, with massive mansard roofs springing from each angle of the Howard-street front to a height of 50ft., finished with ornamental painted anti gilded iron crestings. The windows are of French casement pattern with tinted glass. The principle entrances are from Nottingham-street, with two emergency exits to that street, three to Howard-street, and three others on the other side of the building. The staircases are of solid green moor stone, those to balconies and dress-circles terminating in a spacious landing, with crush passages.

The circle front - of horse-shoe shape - is of massive fibrous plaster, ornamented with garlands, made by the Plastic Decoration Company, of Wellington-street, London. The proscenium opening (29ft. wide and 24ft. high) is formed of pilasters, with panelled and moulded. bases, dados and caps relieved with plastic enrichments, which return to the top with panelled soffets. Surmounting the whole is a massive plastic design representing 'Music and Art. The panels of the dome-shaped ceiling are enriched with ornamental centres.

A fireproof curtain and iron doors shut off the stage from the auditorium, which is with chandeliers of artistic design by Messrs Guest and Chrimes, of Rotherham. The building is practically fireproof; several fire hydrants (Blakeborough's patent) are provided. The building is amply ventilated by four acme ventilators with 24in. shafts, the work being carried out by T. W. Ward, of Sheffield. The sanitary arrangements, both for public and artistes, have received due attention, the comfort of the profession being most carefully considered in the dressing-rooms, all of which have fireplaces and all necessary fittings. The stage is suited to the biggest productions. A large stock of new scenery has been painted by Mr Moore, the resident artist. The stage and gridiron have been constructed by Mr W. Brookes, and the seating and upholstery by Mr Dean, of Birmingham, are of first-class quality. The building is designed by Mr Joseph Platts, an architect with a local reputation, and the contractors, Messrs Thornton, who have carried out the work under his direction, are also well-known townsmen.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 9th December 1893.

Work on the construction of the new Theatre Royal was completed by the end of the year and the Theatre opened on New Year's Day, Monday the 1st of January 1894. The ERA reported on the Theatre's opening in their 6th of January 1894 edition saying:- 'Mr E Darbey's new theatre at Rotherham was opened on Monday last. The drama has had several homes in that city. The old Assembly Rooms, now forming part of the White Hart Inn, were used for the performance of stage plays. Later on a building in Howard-street and afterwards a semi-wooden structure in Ellingham-street were used for dramatic representations. The latter erection was inconvenient, the approaches were not of the best, and it was blocked in by buildings. Nevertheless, it was much patronised, and possibly might have continued the "Theatre Royal " for some little time longer had not the County Council of the West Riding refused to renew the licence.

Mr E. Darbey, who had become the lessee, bought, about a year ago, a piece of land at the upper end of Howard-street, and cleared it, and on this the new theatre has been built. It is of pressed brick, with Horton stone dressings and pediments, the style of architecture being the Renaissance. Massive Mansard roofs spring from each angle of the Howard-street front, to a height of 50ft. and an effective finish is given by painted and gilded iron cresting. The windows are of the French casement pattern with tinted glass.

The principal entrances are from Nottingham-street, with two emergency exits to that street and three to Howard-street, and three on the other side of the structure. The staircases are of solid Green Moor stone, those leading to the balconies and dress-circles terminating on a spacious landing with crush-passages to each department. The circle front, of horse shoe shape, is of fibrous plaster, very massive, and ornamented with garlands. The proscenium opening, 29ft. wide and 24f t. high, is formed of pilasters with panelled and moulded bases, dados, and caps, relieved with plaster enrichments which return on the top with panelled soffits; and surmounting this is a massive plastic design representing music and art. The ceiling is dome shape in panels with ornamental centres. A fire-proof curtain and iron doors shut off the stage from the auditorium. The house is lighted with chandeliers of artistic design. Several fire hydrants (Blakesborough's patent) are provided. There are ample means of ventilation, and the sanitary arrangements have received due attention. For the artistes there is comfortable accommodation, and the stage is suited to the largest productions travelling. The architect is Mr Joseph Platts, and the contractors Messrs Thornton and Son, Rotherham. A large stock of beautiful scenery has been painted by Mr W. C. Moore, late of the Marylebone and Liverpool Theatres, and the act-drop, representing the "Grand Square, Seville," is especially fine. The furnishing has been principally done by Messrs Dean, of Birmingham. The whole of the arrangements have been under the personal direction of Mr Manning.

At 7.30 the curtain rose, and Messrs Cunninghame and Price's company stepped forward and joined the crowded audience in singing the " National Anthem." The piece performed was Manhood.

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 6th January 1894.

The Theatre Royal opened with a production of 'Manhood' on Monday the 1st of January 1894 and would go on to have a long and involved career, both as a live Theatre and a Cinema, with a variety of different names. Whilst under the lesseeship of the North of England Theatre Corporation Ltd it was closed down in July 1915 for the installation of Cinema equipment and refurbishment, and then reopened as the Royal Picture House, a cine variety Theatre, with a rear projection screen, on the 6th of September the same year.

In December 1930 the Theatre closed again, this time for the installation of a new projection room at the rear of the circle with two Western Electric sound projectors, and further redecoration of the auditorium including new carpets and seating, a new Cinema Screen, and new Stage Curtains. The Theatre reopened as the Regent Theatre on the 15th of December 1930 with the new 'talkie' film 'The Grand Parade'. Despite this the stage was retained so the Theatre could still show live shows as well as films.

In September 1935 the Theatre reverted back to live theatre under the name of the Regent Theatre of Varieties when the newer and better equipped Regal Cinema opened nearby and took away its business. The Theatre then continued with variety, circus, and successful Christmas Pantomimes until its final closure on Saturday the 15th of June 1957. The Theatre was subsequently demolished in October 1957 for redevelopment of the area.

Some of the information for this Theatre was supplied with the kind permission of Colin Sutton.

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.