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

 

The Floral Hall, Belgrave Gate and Mansfield Street, Leicester

Later - New Theatre of Varieties / The Floral Bazaar and Market / The Floral Hall Cinema

Leicester Theatres

The car park which is at the rear of the shops on Belgrave gate which replaced the Floral Hall and Palace Theatre, Leicester. The photo shows just how large the site of the two buildings was - Courtesy David Garratt.

Above - The car park which is at the rear of the shops on Belgrave gate which replaced the Floral Hall and Palace Theatre, Leicester. The photo shows just how large the site of the two buildings was - Courtesy David Garratt.

A Music Hall programme for the Winter Gardens at the Floral Hall Leicester in December 1888 - Courtesy David Garratt.In mid May 1876 a new limited liability company was registered for The Leicester Floral Hall Skating Rink Company, with a capital of £15,000.00 in £5 shares. Original subscribers for 50 shares and upwards would be entitled to free admission on all occasions (including flower shows, fêtes, and grand concerts etc.) Holders of 10 shares would gain free access to the skating Rink on all occasions when used for skating only.

The site of the Floral hall was on a large piece of land between Belgrave Gate and Mansfield Street, with the main entrance on Mansfield Street.

Right - A Music Hall programme for the Winter Gardens at the Floral Hall Leicester in December 1888 - Courtesy David Garratt.

An advertisement from the Wyvern Newspaper of 1898 advertising 'Two Sacred Concerts' by the Moody-Manners Opera Company at the Floral Hall, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt.A report taken from the original prospectus, dated September 27th 1876, states: 'This building, which is being roofed in and will shortly be completed, will not only form the largest covered rink in the country, but will also be one of the finest buildings for concerts, etc, outside London. The area will be 20,000 square feet, or nearly half an acre, surmounted by a glazed roof, capable of holding 10,000 persons. Surrounded by balconies varying from 12 feet to 36 feet in depth, the end balcony 36 feet deep and 80 feet long, forming a picture gallery and refreshment buffet.

Left - An advertisement from the Wyvern Newspaper of 1898 advertising 'Two Sacred Concerts' by the Moody-Manners Opera Company at the Floral Hall, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt.

The orchestra and balconies will be arranged on a similar plan to the Westminster Aquarium and Winter Garden upon which the building has been to some extent modelled. To form some idea of the size of the building, it may be remarked that it will be 83 feet wide (which is 11 feet wider than the main arcade and promenade of the Crystal Palace London) whilst the extreme length will be 230 feet. The internal roof height of 49 feet. In addition to the Hall, the company will still have at their disposal a large portion of land running parallel with the Rink, which can be either used as a swimming bath or Open air Rink. There are also several large freehold shops and dwelling houses fronting Belgrave Gate and Mansfield street producing a good rental.'

A Music Hall programme for the Winter Gardens at the Floral Hall Leicester in December 1888 - Courtesy David Garratt.

Above - A Music Hall programme for the Winter Gardens at the Floral Hall Leicester in December 1888 - Courtesy David Garratt.

An advertisement from the Wyvern Newspaper of 1898 advertising a Grand Grecian Bazaar to be held at the Floral Hall, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt.Broad stairs led to the Balconies, which were supported on iron columns running the length of the building. On the left and in the centre of the hall was the orchestra, with six private boxes opposite. The roof was curved and made of wood and glass with wooden arches. The side aisle had a glazed roof also and was used initially as a picture gallery.

Right - An advertisement from the Wyvern Newspaper of 1898 advertising a Grand Grecian Bazaar to be held at the Floral Hall, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt.

The Directors were. J. P. Clarke – Thos Turner – Jos C. Clarke – Clement Stretton – and Joseph Jessop. The Manager was Mr Edward Watson. The Architects and Surveyors were Messrs James Bird and Son, with the bankers being The Stamford, Spalding, and Boston Bank, Leicester.

An advertisement from the Wyvern Newspaper of 1898 advertising The Famous Wyke Temperance Brass Band at the Floral Hall, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt.Initially the company had difficulty in obtaining enough roller skates and so decided to have the Hall fitted out as a circus instead. Seats were arranged around the ring, gradually sloping up to meet the balconies. Thus an immense amphitheatre and gallery was created, seating 2,000 people.

Left - An advertisement from the Wyvern Newspaper of 1898 advertising The Famous Wyke Temperance Brass Band at the Floral Hall, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt.

The Floral Hall opened on December 15th 1876 with a grand military concert by the band of the Coldstream Guards. On December 18th 1876 The Floral Hall 'Cirque' opened with a company of Mons Antoine Plege's cleverly trained animals. Lacombe, the Brothers Jacquemin, Joachim, Ali Ben Mohammed, the Brothers Brethers, Mdlle Euphraise Ditter, and Mons Fernandez. Mr Alfred Nicholson was the musical Director.

An advertisement from the Wyvern Newspaper of 1898 advertising 'Bicycle Polo Teams' at the Floral Hall, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt.Wallett appeared in 1877, and there were equestrian spectacles such as 'Dick Turpin's Ride to York' and 'Mazeppa.'

Left - An advertisement from the Wyvern Newspaper of 1898 advertising 'Bicycle Polo Teams' at the Floral Hall, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt.

By February 1878 the Hall had been converted to a Theatre and was known as the 'New Theatre of Varieties'. It had been redecorated and embellished with a magnificent stage, and scenery. Acts who then appeared were Blondin and Blanche on a rope, and 'Little Bob', a diver who dived from the roof into a tank of water on stage. However this did not last due to 'a slackness of trade', and by September 1878 the Hall was again converted to the Floral Bazaar and Market.

An advertisement from the Wyvern Newspaper of 1899 advertising Dr. Walford Bodie supported by 'High Class Variety Artistes' at the Floral Hall, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt.By 1879 the hall opened as its original intention as a skating rink, and Promenade Concerts and Dances introduced.

In 1880 an Industrial exhibition was held but by 1884 the Hall was staging 'Hengler's Circus. Followed by 'Newsome's Hippodrome and Circus, a Venetian Fête, a visit of Hamilton's Diorama, further Fairs, Bazaar's, Bicycle Racing and Boxing matches.

In 1887 John H (Jubilee) Clarke took over the management and he organised the 'Jubilee Exhibition'. On Monday August 20th 1888 he transferred his mammoth open air show 'Clarendonia' from Clarendon Park to the Floral Hall. By 1889 it was again a circus. 1895 saw skating return and a visit of Tussauds Waxworks.

Right - An advertisement from the Wyvern Newspaper of 1899 advertising Dr. Walford Bodie supported by 'High Class Variety Artistes' at the Floral Hall, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt.

In January 1900 the Floral Hall was sold to Oswald Stoll who was to demolish the hall to make way for his Palace Theatre of Varieties to be built on the site, opening in June 1901. However Frank Matcham who designed the Palace, retained the last one third of the old Floral Hall, which stood on the site now behind the Palace Theatre.

The Floral Hall Picture Theatre being demolished in around 1970 - Courtesy Tom Wright.This section of the old Floral Hall was converted to a Cinema, called 'The Floral Hall Pictur Theatre', entrance to which was down a long internal passageway at the left side of the Palace Theatre, on Belgrave Gate.

This Floral Hall Cinema remained in continuous use showing films until 1959 when the Palace Theatre closed.

However although the Palace Theatre was demolished in 1960, the Floral Hall building remained and was bought by Stead and Simpson (Shoe Manufacturers) who's factory was in Mansfield street, and used as a shoe storage warehouse.

Left - The Floral Hall Picture Theatre being demolished in around 1970 - Courtesy Tom Wright.

The building was finally demolished several years ago, and is now part of a vast car park which is all that is left of where the original Floral Hall, Floral Hall Picture Theatre, and Palace Theatre stood.

The above article was written for this site by David Garratt and kindly sent in for inclusion in 2011. The article and its accompanying images are © David Garratt 2011.

If you have any archive images of this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

The car park which is at the rear of the shops on Belgrave gate which replaced the Floral Hall and Palace Theatre, Leicester. The photo shows just how large the site of the two buildings was - Courtesy David Garratt.

Above - The car park which is at the rear of the shops on Belgrave gate which replaced the Floral Hall and Palace Theatre, Leicester. The photo shows just how large the site of the two buildings was - Courtesy David Garratt.

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