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Aberdeen Theatres and Halls

His Majesty's Theatre - Palace Theatre - Theatre Royal - Tivoli Theatre / Her Majesty's Theatre - Aberdeen's Cinemas

 

His Majesty's Theatre, Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen

A Google StreetView Image of His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen today - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen today - Click to Interact

 

His Majestys Theatre, Aberdeen during the run of Can-Can on the 30th of January 1956 - Courtesy Gerry AtkinsHis Majesty's Theatre, in Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen, was built by the renowned Theatre Architect Frank Matcham at a cost of £35,000 and opened on the 3rd of December 1906 with a production of the pantomime 'Little Red Riding Hood.'. (This Theatre should not be confused with the earlier Her Majesty's Theatre on Guild Street, which later became the Tivoli.)

The Theatre is situated above the Union Terrace Gardens and was built from Kemnay White Granite and has an imposing copper covered dome.The auditorium with its Roman Classical style plasterwork was built on four levels with three curved balconies, and proscenium boxes, and could accommodate an impressive 2,300 people when the Theatre opened, but in 2008 this is a more modest 1,400. The stage of the Theatre has a 30' opening, flanked by a pink marble proscenium which has a frieze above by W. H. Buchan depicting robed figures.

Right - His Majestys Theatre, Aberdeen during the run of Can-Can on the 30th of January 1956 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins

In 1982 the Theatre had a £3 million refurbishment and was reopened on the 17th of September by Prince Charles, having been closed for the previous 23 months.

The Theatre was again closed on the 13th March 2004, this time for a redevelopment project costing nearly £8 million and funded by the Aberdeen City Council, The Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund, and Scottish Enterprise Grampian.

The redevelopment included the refurbishment and modernisation of the front of house areas, the building of a new restaurant, coffee shop, and a corporate hospitality suite, a new Green Room and rehearsal room backstage, with improved dressing rooms. The auditorium was also refurbished and the seating re-upholstered.

 

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen from a postcard sent in 1907.In 'Memories of Show Business' by Percy Court he writes briefly on his time working at His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen saying:- "We had a few days vacation prior to opening at His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen. A most beautiful theatre, a wonderful staff in a beautiful city. Mrs. Court and myself enjoyed our stroll round this city of granite - of the north.

Left - His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen and the statue of Wallace - From a Postcard.

Outside the portico of the theatre is a huge statue of Wallace - that great Scottish patriot. He must have been a veritable "Goliath" and would have been a great "draw" to any circus. At the base is what he thought of all intruders to Caledonia - he certainly was very candid. He spoke his mind.

We lived in Union Street, over Boots Chemists, it was an easy distance to the theatre. We opened to an absolutely packed house and I never saw, in my long life, such an array of Scottish pageantry before. Parties of dignified families were numerous and filled this beautiful theatre to enjoy our circus offering. The passionate patriotism of their country is exemplified by the display of gorgeous "tartans" - "The exemplary badge of bravery" whilst the little girls added a great charm, wearing velvet capes, which added to the scene.

 

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen - From a PostcardMr. Donald, the managing director, was very pleased with the show which included the 5 Australian Aces - a thrilling motor-cycle riding on an inclined plane - with acrobatic stunts. Also Tom Davis Trio - motoring in mid-air - in which all three pass and re-pass each other whilst the track, a grilled tea cup track, is hoisted by cables and a "crab" or "drum' about ten foot high - whilst they continue racing at fifty miles per hour - until the track is lowered.

Right - His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen - From a Postcard.

Our last spectacle was Chipperfield's Lions. The trainer "Dick Chipperfield put his beasts through various tricks to earn the plaudits of the patrons - a Grand Finale! The stage at H.M. Theatre, Aberdeen, is twenty four feet from street level. We had at least twenty-eight horses - these were all stabled outside of the theatre. The lions and other dangerous animals were housed at the theatre. A portion of the stage functioned as a lift and four horses could be accommodated either to travel up or down.

At this period, 1943 - 1944, it was operated by six men - three each side, synchronising. On New Years night, after the performance, an accident occurred - either a man slipped, or was tired - let the handle free. A very big man, of huge dimension, stepped forward to catch the handle - he failed - it decapitated this brave fellow but it broke the impact of the journey to the cellar and the four horses were unhurt. Mr. Donald made provision for his widow and a collection was made among the artists which was in figures...

 

A Colour Postcard of His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen.Our visit was coupled with fine weather - it seemed anomalous to me - that at Bradford and Leeds - it was very cold - yet here, hundreds of miles further north, it was fairly warm.

Left - A Colour Postcard of His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen.

We stayed at this four weeks and only a sprinkling of snow - on two occasions. I shall always have happy memories of Aberdeen. The citizens were enthusiastic with our circus representations. We were feted everywhere - invitations to Scottish gatherings and parties after the show, whilst the directors invited Mrs. Court and myself to the Caledonian Hotel, which we appreciated. Later a really "big K' was given by Mr. Donald - on the last performance before we departed - down south."

The above text in quotes is from 'Memories of Show Business' by Percy Court - You may like to read the rest of Percy's memoirs here.

Now over a hundred years old His Majesty's Theatre is still going strong, and is Aberdeen's Major Theatre for large scale musicals, pantomimes, ballet, opera, and all the major touring productions from London's West End and the provinces.

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 Palace Theatre, Bridge Place or Bridge Street, Aberdeen

Formerly - The People's Palace / Currently - Liquid Nightclub

The former Palace Theatre, Aberdeen in a photograph taken in 2011 - Courtesy KR

Above - The former Palace Theatre, Aberdeen in a photograph taken in 2011 - Courtesy KR

The Palace Theatre, Aberdeen was designed by John Rust and built as a Variety Theatre by the Livermore Brothers. The Theatre, which opened on Monday the 24th of October 1898, was built on the site of the former People's Palace which was destroyed by fire two years earlier. The auditorium was built on four levels, Stalls and Pit, Grand Circle, Ampitheatre, and Gallery and is stated to have had seating for 1,800 people.

Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed at the Palace Theatre, Aberdeen in 1900 and 1902.

Shortly after the Theatre opened the ERA printed a review of the building in their 29th of October 1898 edition saying:

A Poster for Arthur Lloyd and his children Harry, Lillie and Dulcie at the Palace Theatre, Aberdeen in January 1902 - Click to enlarge.'The new variety theatre in Bridge-place, which has been built by Messrs Livermore Brothers in place of the old People's Palace, destroyed by fire two years ago, was opened on Monday evening. The proprietors have certainly spared no expense, and the result is a building, spacious, handsome, admirably contrived, comfortably arranged, and chastely decorated. Seating accommodation is provided for 1,800 persons, although the generous apportionment of space will permit of a very much larger audience. Alike in construction and equipment, the building is a model theatre. Stage fittings, lighting, heating, and ventilating apparatus are of the most modern type ; everything is of the best. The total cost, exclusive of site, is £15,000.

Right - A Poster for Arthur Lloyd and his children Harry, Lillie and Dulcie at the Palace Theatre, Aberdeen in January 1902 - Click to enlarge.


The building is designed in the Italian Venetian style of architecture. The front elevation to Bridge-place is divided into a central facade, with two side wings; the façade has ornamental fluted pilasters, and is surmounted by a massive cornice and pediment. In the centre is the main entrance, which is ornamented with finely-dressed pilasters of Kemnay stone running up either side, with carved truss blocks over the capitals, and a rich pediment capped by a cornice. On either side of the main entrance are two other large doorways. Every care, it need hardly be said, has been taken to ensure that in the event of a panic there shall be no repetition of the dire circumstances that attended the burning of the old building. In addition to the doors already mentioned, there are four giving access to Crown Terrace, and altogether there are fourteen exits from the auditorium by which the audience could escape from any outbreak of fire. All the doors open outwardly, and can be opened by a child.

The fittings and furnishings are of the most lavish description, and the decorations are beautiful yet chaste and tasteful. The accommodation comprises orchestra and reserved stalls, pit stalls, grand circle, private boxes, amphitheatre, and gallery. The main entrance gives access to the stalls, which are on the ground floor. Passing over the mosaic tiled floor of the vestibule, the visitor ascends a short flight of marble steps, 10ft. long, to a spacious promenade that runs round three sides of the building. In front of this promenade, and under the balcony or grand circle, are the pit stalls, and in the area of the hall are the reserved stalls and orchestra stalls. The last-mentioned, of which there are three rows, are immediately in front of the stage.

The handsome lounges are upholstered in peacock plush, and the floor is covered with a heavy velvet - pile carpet. The reserved stalls, of which there are seven rows, occupy the back part of the area. Comfortable tip-up chairs, upholstered in crimson velvet, are provided, and the floor is covered with Brussels carpet. The stalls can accommodate about 200 persons. The seats in the pit stalls, which rise in tiers, are upholstered in figured felt, and are very comfortable.

Upstairs is the grand circle or balcony, running round in the form of a semi-circle. This should prove the most popular part of the house, It is entirely fitted up with red plush tip-up chairs, rising in tiers, and is altogether considered one of the finest balcony floors extant. At the rear is a promenade similar to that on the ground floor. It is 12ft. wide, and is covered with cork carpet. The balcony is seated for between 300 and 400, and the promenade could accommodate from 200 to 300 more. Behind the grand circle are the private boxes, nine in number, which are furnished and decorated in the most lavish style. While they are at the rear of the hall, and are not seen from most parts of the theatre, the boxes command an excellent view of the stage.

On the next floor is the amphitheatre, another large gallery, capable of seating about 500, and behind it, away up under the roof, is a limited range of accommodation for the "gods." Access is gained to the pit stalls by doors from the fireproof passages running along each side of the building, and the balcony and galleries are reached by two broad fireproof staircases, reached from the side doors in the front of the building. In addition, the four doors in Crown-terrace open direct on the balcony and galleries. There is also a private stair from one of the side entrances to the boxes.

In size and equipment the stage is in keeping with the other parts of the building. It is 38ft. wide by 34ft. deep. The scenery, which is entirely new, cost £350, and the large pile plush curtain, in colours of flame and old gold, alone cost 120 guineas. Over all is an asbestos curtain, which would effectually prevent an outbreak of fire in the proscenium from spreading to the auditorium. Ample provision has been made for the accommodation and comfort of the artists. There are six dressing-rooms at each side of the stage, with lavatories in addition, and there are also two staircases leading from the stage to the dressing-rooms and exits.

The ceiling is richly decorated in delicate colours, and the upper walls have panels containing various appropriate figures and scenes designed and executed by local and London artists. The gallery fronts are richly encased with carton pierre enrichments in relief, and the work is treated in tints that harmonise with the more striking embellishments of the walls. The lower walls are hung with heavy Japanese paper, and the numerous columns and pillars are tastefully decorated.

The theatre will be entirely lighted by electricity. The ninety footlights on the stage are each of sixteen candle-power, and there are also two electroliers of twenty lights each suspended from the roof. Numerous smaller lights illumine the stairs and corridors. Altogether, there are in the building 370 lights, with a total candle-power of 27,000. In front of the building in Bridge-place will be fixed six arc lamps of 250 candlepower each, and four similar lamps will adorn the front of Crown-terrace. The building is heated by Perkins's patent hot-water pipes, which extend through every part of the house. Ventilation is also amply provided for by Boyle's patent fresh-air inlets in the side walls, and the foul air is carried off by means of three large exhaust ventilator shafts connected with climax ventilators, 5ft. in diameter, fixed in the roof.

The plaster is fixed on patent steel lathing instead of on wood lathing, and the joisting, beams, and rafters of the galleries are all of steel. Nothing, in short, has been omitted that is likely to conduce to the comfort and safety of visitors, and Messrs Livermore Brothers and their energetic manager, Mr Sheldon, as well as Mr John Rust., jun., the architect, are to be congratulated on the completion of so handsome a building.

On Monday the house was crowded, and a magnificent programme was provided for the evening. Mr Arthur Delaney, a baritone of considerable power, sang a couple of songs; and the Veveys showed themselves to be very clever instrumentalists. Mr Cyrus Dare is one of the best "society performer" ever heard in the north; and an excellent performance was given on the horizontal bar by the Eltons. Jules and Ella Garison were exceedingly funny in a burlesque, entitled A Bit of Nonsense; the Marblesque Troupe in their statuary exhibition show themselves artistically clever; the Silcott quartet sang with spirit and danced very gracefully; a very smart performance was given by the well-known juggling expert Carlotti; and the Danbys, eccentric comedians, were responsible for a large amount of merriment.

Rodger's Electrographe supplies one of the most interesting turns of the evening. The pictures, mostly American, were remarkably good. In the course of the evening the local managing proprietor, Mr Ernest Sheldon, came forward and introduced to the audience his brothers-in-law, Messrs Lechmere and Horace Livermore. Mr Lechmere Livermore, who is the senior partner of the firm, in the course of a short speech, gave an assurance that nothing they could do would be left undone to make the New Palace Theatre all that its patrons could desire.

After referring to the high character of their entertainments, he called on the architect of the theatre, Mr John Rust, city architect, who said that he was commissioned by Messrs Livermore Brothers to make the place as good as it could possibly be done for money, and he hoped the proprietors would have a good dividend out of the house night after night. Mr Sheldon also gave a short address, in the course of which he argued in convincing terms that a high-class, refined variety entertainment, such as was provided at the Palace, was as worthy of the patronage of all classes in the community as the ordinary theatre. The theatre is lighted throughout with electricity.'

Above text from the ERA 29th of October 1898.

Despite all the assurances in the article above the Palace Theatre was gutted by fire in 1929. Subsequently, when it was reconstructed in 1931, the building was constructed as a Cinema instead of a live theatre.

The building still stands today and has been used off and on as a Nightclub for a number of years, currently called Liquid Nightclub. There are some interior images of what remains of the Theatre here.

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

 

The Theatre Royal, Aberdeen

Click to EnlargeThe Theatre Royal, Aberdeen was built in 1789 and demolished in 1877.

Arthur Lloyd and his father Horatio Lloyd are known to have performed at the Theatre Royal, Aberdeen in 1858.

Left - A Poster for Horatio Lloyd and his son, Arthur, performing in Horatio's 'Facts and Fancies' at the Theatre Royal, Aberdeen in 1858 - Click to Enlarge.

Horatio writes about 'Facts and Fancies' in his autobiography here...

The poster left is one of a large collection of original Lloyd Posters collected since the mid 1800s by members of the family and found recently after being lost for 50 years. To see all these posters click the Poster Index here.

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

 

The Tivoli Theatre, Guild Street , Aberdeen

Formerly - Her Majesty's Theatre

A Google StreetView Image of the Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen - Click to Interact

A Programme for the Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen, 1942.The Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen was built in 1872 and originally opened as Her Majesty's Theatre. (This should not be confused with the later His Majesty's Theatre, Rosemount Viaduct,which opened in 1906 and caused the older one to close and remain dark for a number of years.)

The Tivoli Theatre was designed by the well known Theatre Architect C. J. Phipps with James Matthews. The auditorium was later rebuilt by Frank Matcham in 1897 and again in 1909.

The last live performance was in 1966 and then the Theatre was used for Bingo, but even this closed in 1997 and the Theatre has remained empty and deteriorating ever since.

Right - A Programme for the Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen, 1942.

In July 2009 the Tivoli was bought by the businessman Brian Hendry who said that he hoped to spend around £5m over the following few years in order to restore the building to its former glory and bring it back to live Theatre use. This is great news for the Tivoli Theatre Trust who have been working to save the building for many years, and for the people of Aberdeen who, if all goes well, will have a new mid size Theatre in the City in a few years time.

 

Views of Her Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen - From the Arthurian Annual of 1904 - Kindly donated by Shirley Cowdrill.

Above - Views of Her Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen - From the Arthurian Annual of 1904 - Kindly donated by Shirley Cowdrill. The Theatre later became the Tivoli.

You may like to visit the Tivoli's own website, which has a detailed history of the Theatre, many images, and plans to revive this historic Theatre.

For some more wonderful images of the Tivoli Theatre, inside and out, see this site.

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

 

Aberdeen's Cinemas

 

Above - A nostalgic view of many of Aberdeen's cinemas

(You will need to have the Macromedia Flash Player plug-in installed to be able to view this Video)

See also: Cinema City and Beyond - For details and images of Aberdeen's Cinemas and Theatres, past and present.

 

Horatio Lloyd is known to have performed in Aberdeen in the 1840s 1858

Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed in Aberdeen 1858 1886, 1887, 1900 1902

Harry King Lloyd is known to have performed in Aberdeen 1902

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