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


Theatres and Halls in Yorkshire

The Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond - The Victoria Hall, Settle - The Theatre Royal, Batley - Early Theatre Royal, Batley

See also in this area - York Theatres - Brighouse Theatres - Sheffield Theatres - Leeds Theatres - Halifax Theatres - Dewsbury Theatres - Doncaster Theatres - Barnsley Theatres - Bradford Theatres - Harrogate Theatres - Heckmondwike Theatres - Huddersfield Theatres - Hull Theatres - Keighley Theatres - Rotherham Theatres - Scarborough Theatres - Wakefield Theatres

The Georgian Theatre Royal, Friars Wynd and Victoria Road, Richmond, Yorkshire

Also known as The Georgian Theatre / The Kings Theatre

The Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, Yorkshire in 2000 - Courtesy David Garratt

Above - The Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, Yorkshire in 2000 - Courtesy David Garratt

The stage of the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, Yorkshire in 2000 - Courtesy David Garratt.The Georgian Theatre Royal was built by Samuel Butler, an actor manager, in 1788. The exterior of the Theatre is a tall, almost windowless, stone barn of a building, measuring only 7.9 metres (26 feet) by 18.6 metres (61 feet), and is situated at Friars Wynd and Victoria Road, in Richmond Yorkshire. The Theatre is the most authentic Georgian Playhouse still in existence in England. It was also known as the Georgian Theatre and the Kings Theatre, in it's history.

Samuel Butler created a circuit of Theatres within a 50 mile radius of Richmond all being owned and operated by the Butler family. The Theatres were situated in Beverley, Harrogate, Kendal, Northallerton , Ripon, Ulverston, Richmond and Whitby. Many famous actors of the day appeared on the Theatre's boards, such as Mrs Siddons, Edmund Kean, Macready, and Kemble. Samuel Butler died in 1812, but his son and daughter continued to administer the Theatre with the second Mrs Butler as manageress. The family continued to run the Theatre until 1830, by which time the Theatre was losing its popularity, and performances stopped altogether by 1842.

Right - The stage of the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, Yorkshire in 2000 - Courtesy David Garratt.

After this period the building became an auction room, to be followed by being a wine vault, later a corn chandlers, and then a furniture repository. At the beginning of world war two it became a salvage depot.

In the 1930's Edwin Bush, a history master at Richmond Grammar School, became interested in the Theatre building. Dr Richard Southern and Sybil Rosenfeld researched the building bringing its importance to the fore. David Brooks, town clerk in 1942, brought the Theatre to the attention of Lady Dugdale (who later became Lady Crathorne). She was a driving force in efforts for restoration.

On the 21st January 1960 an appeal was launched to raise £15,000 so that the Georgian Theatre (Richmond) Trust Ltd could take over the Theatre from the Richmond Corporation. The building was then renovated and restored, being brought back to life as a Georgian Theatre in 1963, with a further major restoration programme in 2005 lasting 18 months. This cost £1.5 million pounds and was paid for by the National Lottery and sponsors. The 1960 Bar and toilets were removed and replaced in a modern block to the left hand side of the Theatre, the auditorium was redecorated in an authentic colour scheme, with lighting being brought up to date to provide a more natural candle light effect.

The stage right boxes at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, Yorkshire in 2000 - Courtesy David Garratt.The auditorium is on three levels being square in shape, having a sunken Pit area which originally had 'knife edge' narrow benches as the seating. Entrances to the Pit area are via two pit passages underneath the rows of boxes on stage left and right. Around the auditorium on three sides are stage boxes, there being four on each side and three at the rear. The names above the pit boxes are of important playwrights from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Lettering over the central box 'Shakespeare' is original, as is the Richmond coat of Arms upon the stage box, actors left. Above these boxes is a rectangular gallery supported upon 11 Tuscan columns.

Left - The stage right boxes at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, Yorkshire in 2000 - Courtesy David Garratt.

In the 1963 renovations it was discovered that in the late 19th century, brick built vaults had been inserted into the length of the building immediately below the stage area. Therefore the dressing rooms and trap area under the stage are reconstructions, as are the pit and orchestra pit. The stage itself is very large being the same size as the auditorium. Its dimensions are 8.5 metres (28 feet) wide by 7.3 metres (24 feet) deep. The Proscenium arch is 18 feet in width with Georgian Proscenium pass doors onto the stage apron area, and the stage joists show evidence of three trapdoors in the stage, two as corner traps and a grave trap. Under the stage one can see a reconstruction of the candle float mechanism which could be raised to form foot lights. These are based upon a drawing in the Eyre manuscript.

A reconstruction of the candle float mechanism which could be raised to form foot lights in a photograph taken at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, Yorkshire in 2000 - Courtesy David Garratt.

Above - A reconstruction of the candle float mechanism which could be raised to form foot lights in a photograph taken at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, Yorkshire in 2000 - Courtesy David Garratt.

To stand upon the stage and look out at the auditorium shows how intimate the Theatre is, and what it would have felt like to experience the close proximity of the audience. One can imagine the 'asides' given by actors to the audience. The original seating capacity was approximately 450 people. Later by 1982 this was 238 people, currently 214 capacity.

A Google Streetview image of the Georgian Theatre Royal today - Click to Interact.The Theatre has a Museum attached which opened on May 1st 1979 being housed in two buildings to the rear of the Theatre and has an early nineteenth century woodland painted scene, probably painted between 1818 and 1836. This did not originate in this Theatre but is important in that it is possibly the earliest surviving complete example of scenery in Britain.

Right - A Google Streetview image of the Georgian Theatre Royal today - Click to Interact.

The Theatre is of great importance being Grade I Listed and is the only existing Georgian Theatre left in the Butler circuit, and the only authentic Georgian Theatre of such intimate proportions, in Britain. Today this thriving Theatre offers a varied programme of productions to the public of music, comedy and drama, together with pantomime and dance, with workshops and youth Theatre classes.

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

The above article on the Georgian Theatre Royal was written and kindly sent in for inclusion on this site by David Garratt in April 2012. The article is © David Garratt 2012.

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

The Victoria Hall, Kirkgate, Settle, North Yorkshire

Formerly - The Music Hall / The Kirkgate Cinema / Picturedrome / Settle Victoria hall

A Google StreetView Image of the Victoria Hall, Settle - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Victoria Hall, Settle - Click to Interact.

A photograph of the Victoria Hall, Settle, taken in 1886 and showing a Primrose League event. The Theatre's Organ can be seen at the back of the stage, and the original raked seating in the foreground - Courtesy Mike Farrington.The Victoria Hall is situated on Kirkgate in Settle, North Yorkshire and is thought to be the oldest surviving Music Hall in Britain, if not the World. The Hall was first opened as 'The Music Hall' on the 11th of October 1853 and predates two other notable survivors, Wilton's Music Hall in London, which opened in March 1859, and the Britannia Music Hall, Glasgow, which opened in December 1859.

Right - A photograph of the Victoria Hall, Settle, taken in 1886 and showing a Primrose League event. The Theatre's Organ can be seen at the back of the stage, and the original raked seating in the foreground - Courtesy Mike Farrington.

The Victoria Hall, which was originally capable of accommodating some 400 people, was designed by the architect Edward Graham Paley and built by James Winskill for the Reverend James Robinson. The exterior of the Hall was constructed with local Brennand Gritstone with a Gabled Facade designed in the Italianate design, and topped with a roof of Blue Slate. The Hall's auditorium measures 13 metres by 10 metres, and today has a flat floor with no fixed seating, but can accommodate 167 when seated, and a small balcony at the back which can seat 70 people.

The Victoria Hall would become home to the Settle Operatic Society in 1879, who continue to perform at the Hall once a year even today. In 1882 Edmund Handby created the Hall's still surviving Act Drop which shows a scene of Settle's Market Place, which was based on a much earlier painting. An Organ was installed in 1886 but this would be removed in 1914. In 1893 the Music Hall had a change of name to the Settle Victoria Hall.

The auditorium and stage of the Victoria Hall, Settle today - Courtesy Mike Farrington.

Above - The auditorium and stage of the Victoria Hall, Settle today - Courtesy Mike Farrington.

In 1909 the Hall's stage was enclosed and it's proscenium arch was painted, and in 1919 the Hall became a full time Cinema called the Kirkgate Kinema, sometimes billed as the Picturedrome. In 1921 the Robinson family, who had first had the Hall built in 1853, gifted it to the local Council. In 1929 a balcony was constructed at the back of the Hall, still there today, and its original raked stalls floor was replaced by the present flat wooden floor. In 1944 Cinema use at the Victoria Hall was ended and it returned to live music and theatre use.

Today the Grade II Listed Victoria Hall promotes itself as featuring 'a wide programme of theatre, comedy, film and live music, supplemented by community events, workshops and indoor markets.'

You may like to visit the Victoria Hall'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 Theatre Royal, St. James Street, Batley, West Yorkshire

Later - The Batley Hippodrome / Empire Cinema

An early colourised Postcard showing the Theatre Royal and St. James Street, Batley.

Above - An early colourised Postcard showing the Theatre Royal and St. James Street, Batley.

An Advertisement for the New Theatre Royal, Batley - From the Batley Reporter and Guardian, 14th of November 1896.The Theatre Royal on St, James Street, Batley was built for Fred Cooke and designed by the architect William Smelt. The Theatre replaced an earlier Wooden Theatre of the same name on a different site in Batley which was first opened in September 1869, see details below. The new Theatre Royal, which opened 30 years later on the 2nd of November 1896, had a much larger auditorium, built on three levels, Pit, Stalls, Dress Circle, and Gallery, and could accomodate 3,000 people.

Right - An Advertisement for the New Theatre Royal, Batley - From the Batley Reporter and Guardian, 14th of November 1896.

On the opening night however, a production of the play 'The Silver King' a great many people were not able to attend the performance as the West Riding Magistrates had deemed the exits insufficient stating that the Gallery would need a second exit. Fred Cooke must have got round the Magistrates pretty quickly though as the following week the Gallery was open when the play 'On Shanons Shore' was staged, adverts in the press carried the celebratory banner stating 'Gallery Now Open', see image above right.

The Theatre cost some £3,000 to construct and the works were carried out by F. S. Davidson with decorations by A. R Deans Ltd. The plasterer was Frank Newsome and the scenic artist was W. Parker. The Theatre covered an area of over 5,500 square feet and had a stage 50 feet wide by 30 feet deep. There were 'spacious promenades' front of house and bars on all levels.

In 1907 some alterations were carried out to the designs of A. J. Whitty, and in 1912 the Theatre was renamed the Batley Hippodrome.

A few years later, in 1921, the Theatre was almost completely rebuilt with only the external walls surviving, even the facade was rebuilt. The designs this time were by the architectural firm Hanstock & Sons whose plans were for a modern purpose built Cinema. It reopened on the 2nd of January as the Empire Cinema with seating for around 980 people on two levels, stalls and one circle. The Empire still had stage facilities however so was able to stage cine variety shows.

In the mid 1950s the Empire was equipped to show Cinemascope films on a new wider screen in front of the Theatre's original 22 foot proscenium.

The Empire was closed after the last showing of the film 'Don't Bother to Knock' on the 26th of August 1961 and subsequently demolished. The building next door to the Theatre still stands today but the site of the Theatre is empty as a new approach road was built over it to serve a car park, as shown in the image below.

A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Theatre Royal / Empire Cinema, Batley in June 2018 - Click to Interact. The Theatre was situated just beyond the building shown to the right.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Theatre Royal / Empire Cinema, Batley in June 2018 - Click to Interact. The Theatre was situated just beyond the building shown to the right.

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

The Early Theatre Royal, 421 Bradford Road, Batley

A Google StreetView Image from 2009 showing Bradford Road, Batley and the Talbot Hotel, and next door the site of the early wooden Theatre Royal, Batley - Click to Interact. The Talbot Hotel has since been demolished.

Above - A Google StreetView Image from 2009 showing Bradford Road, Batley and the Talbot Hotel, and next door the site of the early wooden Theatre Royal, Batley - Click to Interact. The Talbot Hotel has since been demolished.

The Theatre Royal in Batley that some people may still remember in it's Empire Cinema days, details here, was preceded by an earlier Theatre of the same name and situated next to the Talbot Inn on Bradford Road, Batley in 1869. The Theatre was entirely constructed out of wood and built for Charles Henry Duval, opening on the 18th of September 1869 with a production of 'Green Hills of the Far West, or The Widows Orphans.'

The Theatre was not the success that Charles Duval had hoped for however and by the following year he had filed for bankruptcy and the Theatre's fixtures and fittings were advertised for sale by auction. The Theatre was later taken up by Stephen Pickuls and reopened in late January 1872, however this was not to last long either and the last performance I can find playing at this early Theatre Royal was in March 1872 when a Benefit performance there donated £3 to the General Infirmary of Leeds. The Theatre must have then been deconstructed but the next door Inn remained for many years, later named the Talbot Hotel, this old public house was only finally demolished for redevelopment in 2015.

Many years after the wooden Theatre Royal had been abandoned a new brick built Theatre Royal was opened in St. James Street, Batley which would have much better success, see details above.

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

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