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

 

The Alhambra Theatre, Bellfield Street, Dundee

Later - The State Cinema / The Whitehall Theatre

Dundee Theatres

A Google StreetView Image of the Whitehall Theatre, Dundee, formerly the Alhambra Theatre - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Whitehall Theatre, Dundee, formerly the Alhambra Theatre - Click to Interact

The Dundee Alhambra Theatre in the 1930s - Courtesy The Downfield Musical Society.The Alhambra Theatre in Bellfield Street accommodated 1,100 people and was established in the 1890s by John Young, staging variety, pantomime and drama including the touring company of Wilson Barrett (senior.) Young had operated the Excelsior Theatre in the Exchange Building in the late 1880s, on the heels of William McFarland. John Young could have been a son of the veteran architect John Young who designed a number of hotels and halls in and around Dundee, including the Queen`s Hotel in the 1870s, but became impoverished during the recessions of that time.

Right - The Dundee Alhambra Theatre in the 1930s - Courtesy The Downfield Musical Society.

This Alhambra is not to be confused with the wooden Alhambra Music Hall, East Dock Street, which was owned by William McFarland from 1866 and who provided entertainments by some 40 artistes weekly.

John Young also opened the Tivoli Theatre, complete with a gallery, in Brown Street in 1902, staging variety and drama. That changed to cine variety around 1913 but was destroyed by fire in 1924. A replacement Tivoli Cinema, paid for by the insurance money, opened in Bonnybank Road and continued until 1977, complete with Continental films, and a dining room.

A Programme for the 'Alhambra Revels' at the Alhambra Theatre, Dundee in 1939 from the 'Glasgow to Dundee' Alhambra season - Courtesy Graeme Smith.Enter Arthur Henderson. Originally from a fairground family in Yorkshire, Henderson had settled in Dundee and found winter quarters for his travelling show. He operated a number of early cinema sites and maintained his interest in stage productions, including a short period of running the Queen`s Theatre seating 500 (sometimes referred to as the Queen`s Hall) which was a converted church in Well Road. He took over the Alhambra and commissioned architect Frank Thomson in 1927 to design it as a picture house, opening in 1929 but with the retention of stage facilities for live productions.

Left - A Programme for the 'Alhambra Revels' at the Alhambra Theatre, Dundee in 1939 from the 'Glasgow to Dundee' Alhambra season - Courtesy Graeme Smith.

A Poster for 'Babes in the Wood' at the Whitehall Theatre, Dundee in the 1960s - Courtesy Colin Calder.In the 1930s it showed films and staged variety, plays, revues and musicals - including No, No, Nanette. Eventually Arthur Henderson concentrated upon theatre from 1937 including frequent seasons by Perth Repertory Theatre. Notable in 1938 was the drama acted by Sir Martin Harvey, the arrival from Glasgow of the scintillating Glasgow Alhambra Revels headed by Alec Finlay and Esme Marshall, and the acclaimed debut in Scotland of the Universal Grand Opera Company, who were sponsored by Councillor JW Lomax of Bolton, a cotton manufacturer and patron of the arts. The company consisted of 70 artistes, travelling with scenery for 17 operas and an orchestra of 16.

Right - A Poster for 'Babes in the Wood' at the Whitehall Theatre, Dundee in the 1960s - Courtesy Colin Calder.

During 1940 Henderson sold the Alhambra and it became a fulltime cinema, operating as the State Cinema until 1968. Dundee Council bought the premises in November 1969 and altered it to become a civic community theatre, the Whitehall Theatre. It is operated today by the Whitehall Theatre Trust.

The above information on the Alhambra Theatre was written for this site by Graeme Smith in February 2013.

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

A Dundee Whitehall Theatre stage set being made ready - Courtesy The Downfield Musical Society.

Above - A Dundee Whitehall Theatre stage set being made ready - Courtesy The Downfield Musical Society.

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