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Theatres in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Northumberland

The Berwick Theatre

See also Theatres in Blyth, Northumberland

The Berwick Theatre, 17 to 21 Hide Hill, Berwick

A Sketch showing the proposed Berwick Theatre several years before it was actually built - From The Berwick Advertiser, 4th March 1926.

Above - A Sketch showing the proposed Berwick Theatre several years before it was actually built - From The Berwick Advertiser, 4th March 1926.

An Advertisement for the opening production of 'Veronique' at the Berwick Theatre in February 1928 - From the Berwickshire News and General Advertiser, 24th of January 1928.The Berwick Theatre was situated on Hide Hill in Berwick and opened on Thursday the 2nd of February 1928 with a showing of the 1927 film 'The Flag Lieutenant'. A few weeks later on the 14th of February 1928 the Theatre's first stage production was 'Veronique' by the Berwick Operatic Society.

Right - An Advertisement for the opening production of 'Veronique' at the Berwick Theatre in February 1928 - From the Berwickshire News and General Advertiser, 24th of January 1928.

The Theatre was designed by the Southport architect Albert Schofield and built on the site of the former Queen's Rooms which had been in Cinema use between 1913 and 1923, and before that the site of the old Red Hall, a former market area for Flemish merchants.

The Berwick Theatre was designed as a Cinema with Stage Facilities and could accommodate over 1,000 people in its two level auditorium, stalls and one circle. The Theatre's stage was 54 feet deep with a proscenium opening of 25 feet, and there were six dressing rooms for its artistes. Included in the building was a cafe cum dance hall for its patrons. As a Cinema it used a rear projection system situated behind the stage.

The Berwick Advertiser reported on the new Berwick Theatre in their 26th of January 1928 edition saying:- 'Berwick's new theatre opens on Thursday 2nd February when "The Flag Lieutentant," will be shown. The finishing touches are now being put to the building, a whole army of workmen being engaged on various jobs, such as painting, the laying of linoleum, fitting up seats etc.

There will be a formal opening at the special afternoon performance, when shareholders and members of public bodies will be invited. The opening will be performed by C'apt. F. C. H. Allenby, C.B.E., R.N., of Loanend, Berwick.

The whole building is in Greek design and constructed in artificial stone. On the front on Hide Hill there is an entrance loggia, the four square columns of which are faced with terrazza work. There are two shops in this loggia, one on each side of the entrance to the theatre, and each having windows facing into Hide Hill as well as into the main entrance, which is paved in terrazza work in a design of black and white.

From the entrance, stairs lead to the foyers, from which stairs on each side lead to the balcony of the theatre and also to the lounge and cafe. This lounge is divided from the café by folding doors, which can be swung back, and the lounge utilised for sitting-out accommodation or refreshments, when the café is being used for a dance. The cafe fronts on to Hide Hill, and is well lighted from large windows for use in the day time, as well as being brilliantly lit by electric light for the evening. The café measures 26 feet by 42 feet and is fitted with a special sprung dancing floor. It communicates by means of a service Lift with the kitchen above. The kitchen is well-fitted up with every modern convenience. Adjoining the lounge are commodious ladies and gentlemen's cloak rooms. The lounge can also be reached by a separate stair which leads down to the front entrance at the side of one of the two box offices. The manager's office is on the same floor as the lounge.

The area of the Theatre, entered from the main foyer, seats 754, tip-up, chairs being provided. Entrances at the back lead from the foyer and there are also additional entrances from a wide lobby which runs the whole length of the building from the loggia, swing doors opening out at intervals from the area. An emergency exit leads straight into Hide Hill.

The stage measures 26 feet by 54 feet in width; the width of the proscenium being 25 feet. The stage is fitted with every modern equipment for lighting effects, special limelight being provided. The projection from the cinema apparatus is from the rear of the curtain, the apparatus itself being in a fireproof building outside the theatre, and can be cut off immediately by means of a steel shutter in the event of an outbreak of fire. A further safeguard against fire is the asbestos certain which is fixed in heavy steel frames and works in specially constructed steel sockets, completely cutting off the stage from the area. In front of the stage is the well for the orchestra.

The balcony seats 271, the total seating accommodation of the theatre being 1025. Here plush-covered, tip-up seats in deep rose shade are provided. The colour design of the theatre walls is buff and green with gold touches. The whole building, Theatre, foyer, lounge, café, etc., is well heated with radiators and everywhere is brilliantly lit with electric light, generated on the premises by dynamos driven by two Crossley oil engines, a 22 and a 24 h.p.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Berwick Advertiser, 26th of January 1928.

A Google StreetView Image showing Hide Hill, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, and the former Berwick Theatre to the right - Click to Interact.The Berwick Theatre opened on Thursday the 2nd of February 1928 and was always a mixed entertainment building, staging variety shows, pantomimes and films throughout its life.

The Theatre was eventually closed however, in the late 1960s and subsequently converted for Bingo use. This survived until 2011 when even Bingo was also closed and the Theatre was then converted into a furniture store and Indian Restaurant. The building survives externally to this day.

Right - A Google StreetView Image showing Hide Hill, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, and the former Berwick Theatre to the right - Click to Interact.

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

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