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Theatres in Aberystwyth, South Wales

The Coliseum Theatre - More coming soon

The Coliseum Theatre, Terrace Road, Aberystwyth, Wales

Formerly - Phipps' Coliseum Theatre - Later - The Coliseum Cinema / Ceredigion Museum and Art Gallery

A Google StreetView Image of the former Coliseum Theatre, Aberystwyth, today the Ceredigion Museum and Art Gallery - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the former Coliseum Theatre, Aberystwyth, today the Ceredigion Museum and Art Gallery - Click to Interact.

The Coliseum Theatre is situated on Terrace Road in Aberystwyth, South Wales. Originally there was a wooden building on the site, built by David Phillips as an entertainments hall in 1891, which lasted until it caught fire in 1902. David Phillips decided to rebuild, employing architect J. Arthur Jones of Aberystwyth to design a Variety theatre which was built by local builder E. E. Jenkins. The Theatre, known originally as 'Phipps' Coliseum Theatre', opened on June the 5th 1905. The Theatre is situated on the first floor, above, originally, an arcade of shops, most of which have today been subsumed into a large branch of Boots.

An advertisement for the opening of the Aberystwyth Coliseum - From the Era, 27th May 1905.

Above - An advertisement for the opening of the Aberystwyth Coliseum - From the Era, 27th May 1905.

The exterior facade of the Theatre was designed in the Edward / Queen Anne style of architecture, and consisted of a central pedimented gable with three sections of windows, either side of which, rising at first floor level, bowed oriel towers capped with leaded roofed open peristyle cupolas. The decoration of the facade has terracotta dressings.

Inside is a three tier Theatre with slightly raked auditorium stalls, and two balconies at the rear. These continue along the straight sides of the auditorium meeting the proscenium wall. Each has three rows of stepped seating. These balconies rise above one another, supported on iron pillars, with Corinthian capitals. The Balcony fronts are of elaborate fretted cast iron, with Art Nouveau decoration. The impression is of a Music Hall, although built after this period. The proscenium arch is elliptical, of simple design, with a 14 foot deep stage and a 27 feet wide proscenium. The stage has a low flying grid. The auditorium ceiling is plain and flat subdivided by thin plaster ribs running between cast iron roses. The original capacity was quoted as 1,000 people.

The opening performance on Friday evening June 5th 1905 was covered by 'The Cambrian News' edition of the 16th June 1905 as follows:- ''On Friday evening, the New Coliseum in Terrace road was opened by a concert, the artistes engaged being Mr and Mrs Tomas Tomas, Mr Bertie Ollerhead (violinist), Madam Juanita Jones and Miss Maggie Davies. In the absence of the Mayor, Archdeacon Williams presided and referred to the building, said if the entertainment there would be something like those at the Coliseum London, Aberystwyth people should be more than satisfied. The entertainments at the London Coliseum were of a pure and elevated character and in this 20th century, pure and elevated entertainments were wanted for the people. He was glad to find a new building opened in Aberystwyth for that purpose and their thanks were due to Mr Phillips for his enterprise. It was his hope that Mr Phillips would receive at their hands that patronage and encouragement which he so richly deserved. The new building would be useful in developing a taste for rational entertainment and music.' - The Cambrian News, 16th June 1905.

An advertisement for the Aberystwyth Coliseum - From the Cambrian News, 30th June 1905. Admission prices were – Reserved stall seats 3 shillings (15 pence in today's currency). Dress Circle, 2/6 pence (12 and half pence). Balcony 2 shillings (10 pence) Body of the hall 1/6 pence (7 and half pence). Gallery 1 shilling (5 pence). Doors opened at 7.30pm to commence at 8.0pm. Tickets and theatre seating plan was available at Wheatley's Music Warehouse.

Right - An advertisement for the Aberystwyth Coliseum - From the Cambrian News, 30th June 1905.

The concert was repeated again on Saturday evening, with a sacred concert given on Sunday. The following production on Thursday Friday and Saturday evenings of June 15th, 16th and 17th, was advertised as an Important engagement of John H. Morton's Popular Company of Talented Artistes, including Madam Constance Bellemy (late Prima Donna of Turners Opera Company) in the Opera, Burlesque and Pantomime entitled ''The Rajah of Ranjapore.'' reserved seats were Stalls 2 shillings (10 pence) Pit Stalls 1 shilling (5 pence) Pit 6d (2 and half pence) To commence at 8.0pm Doors open at 7.30pm, early doors 7.15pm at 6d extra.

The following booking was a Public Meeting held on Wednesday June the 28th 1905 at 7.0pm. Speakers were Rev John Cliffords D.D. Mr David Lloyd George MP, and others with Mr Vaughan Davies MP as chairman. A number of reserved seats were on offer at 2 shillings each (10pence).

The Coliseum continued to present Plays, Variety shows, Silent films, Eisteddforau, and concerts throughout the following years.

In 1932 Mr Harry Gale converted the Theatre into a Cinema installing Talkie machine projectors of 'British Acoustic' manufacture. These were replaced in June 1934 by the latest Talkie projectors. The Coliseum Cinema, run by Olive and Harry Gale, operated as a privately owned cinema all it's cinema life, until it's closure in 1977, and had a motto of 'Amusement without Vulgarity.'

The Theatre then lay abandoned, but was eventually bought, renovated and restored, reopening as the Ceredigion Museum and Art Gallery in 1982, with the help of a £1.3 million Heritage Lottery Grant. The Theatre is unaltered, being a time capsule of an Edwardian Variety Theatre, later Cinema. The Museum and Art Gallery displays local life of the area in the theatre stalls, balconies, and adjacent areas. Friends of the Museum secured a £13,917 grant to reinstall the cinema facility, installing comfy seating, with modern audio visual equipment plus a hearing loop facility. The Building today is Grade II Listed.

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

The above article on the Aberystwyth Coliseum was written by David Garratt in January 2019.

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

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