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Theatres in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England

The Theatre Royal - Gaiety Theatre of Varieties - The Theatre Royal / Hippodrome Theatre

The Theatre Royal and Concert Hall, Theatre Yard, Chesterfield

Formerly - The New Theatre

A Google StreetView Image of Theatre Yard, Chesterfield, the site of the former Theatre Royal - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of Theatre Yard, Chesterfield, the site of the former Theatre Royal - Click to Interact.

There is mention in the records that a 'New Theatre' was opened in 1786, situated in Theatre Yard. The Theatre opened on the 29th August 1786 with a farce entitled 'I'll tell you What' written by Elizabeth Inchbald, followed by 'The Romp, Or A Cure for the Spleen,' which was an Opera comedy written by Isaac Bickerstaff.

During the mid 1800's audiences declined due in some part to poor standards of acting and production. The Theatre's reputation also declined, experiencing raucous behaviour. The Theatre also found itself in a non- salubrious part of town, by the Kennels, and tried to regain favour by changing it's name in 1842 to the 'Theatre Royal' and again later in 1863 to 'Theatre Royal and Concert Hall'. However it still declined. No longer able to find Theatre managers who would run it, Chesterfield turned to the local Amateurs Dramatic Society, but this did not work either and the Theatre became disused. In 1879 an article in the Derbyshire Times stated 'The corporation possess a ramshackle dirty old barn, misnamed a theatre; it is down a yard inaccessible to carriages, and it has become so lost in reputation and in dirt that no efforts can induce the Chesterfield public to visit it, and all the theatrical managers who try it, leave the town in despair and generally in debt also.'

Thus in 1879 the corporation transferred the Theatre's entertainment licence to the Circus in Corporation street. A building which would eventually be renamed and used as a Music Hall called the Gaiety Theatre of Varieties.

According to the Theatres Trust the Theatre Royal building was later converted into a warehouse, then a fire station, the site later becoming part of Theatre Yard Shopping Precinct in 1982.

The above article was kindly written for this site by David Garratt.

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

The Gaiety Theatre of Varieties, Corporation street, Chesterfield

Formerly - A Circus

The Gaiety Theatre of Varieties, formally a Circus, situated on Corporation Street, Chesterfield, presented Music Hall entertainment. It's first night presented acts which included Nemo the Japanese Juggler, comic vocalists, Irish character's, and clog dancing. The next week's attraction was billed as Zazel the Female Gymnast. The Music Hall changed hands a couple of times, but by 1896 was superseded by a new Theatre.

The above article was kindly written for this site by David Garratt.

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

The Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, Chesterfield

Later - The Hippodrome Theatre

Mr Darbey of Rotherham, who owned other Theatres, built a new Theatre in Corporation Street which was a good location in Chesterfield leading from the Midland and M. S. and L Railway stations. The new Theatre was designed by Rollinson and Sons. The front of the Theatre had a stone base, the upper portion being pressed brick with stone dressings, pediment and balustrade with windows of tinted glass. The auditorium was fitted with all the latest improvements and arrangements, seating over 1,600 people, all with a good view of the stage, enabled by the stage having a rake and the Gallery having a suitable slope. The seating was comprised of tip up seats all covered in crimson plush supplied by A. R. Dean, Limited, of Birmingham. The decoration was chiefly terra-cotta, the front of the Gallery being relieved with white and gold. The stage was fitted with a fireproof curtain and a new drop scene, a view of Chatsworth House the Palace of the Peaks, specially painted by the artist Mr W. S. Todd. The Theatre had ample exits and hydrants in case of fire. Backstage the dressing rooms were spacious and well ventilated with the latest sanitary arrangements. The Theatre was granted a full licence for it's refreshment bars, and the whole building had been built with comfort and convenience both for the audience and artists. The builder was Messrs Charles Green and Co, contractors, of Wellgate, Rotherham, under the superintendence of manager Mr Grantham. The Theatre manager being Mr E Miall.

The Theatre Royal opened on Monday the 19th of October 1896. A crowded house eagerly awaited the orchestra under the leadership of John Holman to strike up. First the National Anthem was played and then Mr and Mrs Harry Battersby's Juvenile Company performed 'Les Cloches de Corneville,' (a very early musical comedy).

The ERA newspaper of the 24th of October 1896 stated:- 'The opening attraction here last Monday was Mr and Mrs Harry Battersby's Juvenile Comic Opera Company, the opera chosen for representation being 'Les Cloches de Corneville', in which Master Victor Gouiet essays the part of Gaspard, the miser, with telling effect. Miss Kitty Jones is a pleasing Germaine, and Miss Tilley Stewart a sprightly Serpolette. Miss Madge Douglas sings sweetly as Grenicheux. Master Harwood Roberts as the Bailie and Master Willie Garvey as Gobo, the Baiilli's shadow, are most successful. The dresses and scenery good.'

A Poster for the Chesterfield Hippodrome - Courtesy David Garratt.By October 1899 the Theatre was owned by Mr Frank McNaughton who made it part of the McNaughton Theatre circuit, renaming it 'The Hippodrome Theatre.' The Acting Manager was Mr P. Murray. The week of 28th October 1899 was Mr Henry Dundas's Company in 'Human Nature'.

On the 17th of November 1902 the weeks entertainment was provided by 'Aloie's Circus and Variety.'

On the 16th of March 1903 the entertainment was a weeks engagement of Variety starring J. W. Rowley and Lockhart's Elephants.

Right - A Poster for the Chesterfield Hippodrome - Courtesy David Garratt.

The week commencing the 6th of April 1903 consisted of a week's Variety with Hackenschnim (the famous wrestler) and the four Empire Bells appearing.

In 1916, on the week commencing 21st of April, Will Murray's one and only 'Casey's Court' appeared for the week.

Early on films were projected by the Bioscope, advertised as the 'ever popular Hipposcope,' as part of the Variety programme. It is thought that the projection box was at the rear of the stage.

In 1922 the Theatre Architect Bertie Crewe designed a new auditorium interior, however the rather plain exterior was retained. The Theatre now had a 30 foot wide proscenium with a stage depth of 28 feet, and had eight dressing rooms. It re-opened on the 3rd September 1923 with the Revue 'The Pin Wheel.'

On the week commencing the 20th of February 1928 the Revue 'What'll I do' was staged, followed on the 16th of July by Jen Latona in 'Vaudeville Follies.'

In August 1930, the theatre was equipped with B.T.H. sound equipment and became a full time cinema opening on the 8th September 1930 with the film 'The Hollywood Revue,' starring Jack Benny, Buster Keaton and Joan Crawford. There were however, the occasional live stage presentations during this period. October 24/25/26th 1932 saw the play 'The Chinese Puzzle' performed on its stage.

In 1938 the cinema was taken over by new management who reverted the building back to live theatrical use. Records show that the week commencing 27th January 1941 the Revue 'Don't Blush Girls' was performed on the stage, and on the 17th of February the same year another stage Revue entitled 'Silk Stocking Scandals of 1941' played for the week. This featured Burton Lester (a popular American entertainer with his gang of comedians) Mark Rivers, Tommy Seymor, Danny Keen, Gladys Neville and the Six Hiawatha Hotshots.

In the Summer of 1950 Frank H. Fortesque's Famous Players presented a ten week season of plays. And on the 4th August 1950 the Stage Newspaper announced that the Theatre had been sold to Terence Byron Ltd, (the lessee).

At Christmas 1952 the Pantomime was 'Mother Goose' featuring Ethel Manners, Chris King and Joyce, Joan and Betty Morton, Jimmy Thorpet, Joe Bentley, Frank Alcock, June Cobill, the Balmoral Four, Mollie McCullens Ballet girls, and Kirby's Flying Ballet.

Christmas 1953's pantomime was 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears', featuring Trevor Williams as the Baron, Lorna Eckersley as Fairy Sunshine, Jack Sherwood, and Zena Foster.

A Google StreetView Image of the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield - Click to Interact.However, in 1954 the Hippodrome Theatre closed for good, and it was then left standing empty and derelict, and subject to vandalism, and was eventually demolished. An underpass was constructed on the site. Thus years of variety, plays, repertory, films and pantomime came to an end, just leaving Chesterfield's entertainment in the hands of the Civic Theatre (later renamed the Pomegranate Theatre, shown right.)

Right - A Google StreetView Image of the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield - Click to Interact.

The above article was kindly written for this site by David Garratt.

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

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