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The Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside

Formerly - The Prince of Wales Theatre / Royal Alexandra Theatre & Opera House / Alexandra Theatre / Empire Palace Theatre

Introduction - The Prince of Wales Theatre - The Alexandra Theatre - The Empire Theatre - The Empire Theatre by Donald Auty

Liverpool Index

The Liverpool Empire Theatre 2005 - Courtesy Tony Thompson, Theatre Trustee.

Above - The Liverpool Empire Theatre in 2005 - Courtesy Tony Thompson, Theatre Trustee.

 

 

A Programme for the Pantomime 'The House That Jack Built' which was produced at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool in December 1897, the year after the Theatre first opened.The Empire Theatre, Liverpool first opened on the 19th of December 1896 with a production of the pantomime 'Cinderella'. The Theatre was originally designed by the renowned Theatre Architect Frank Matcham but altered in 1925 by W & T. R. Milburn.

Right - A Programme for the Pantomime 'The House That Jack Built or The Litle Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe' which was produced at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool in December 1897, the year after the Theatre first opened. In the cast were Will and Sam and Master Poluski, James Merryles, Harry Yardley, W. E. Ritchie, George and Master Borani, Sydney Vincent, George Sinclair, Emma Pollock, Helene Pillans, Govell, Mabel Gordon, Maggie and kate Brazier, Cassie Ross, Dorothy Dale, Etta Lane, Ethel Milford, Edith Payne, Nettie Waite, George Fearnley, Ruth Davenport, Constance Oxton and The Tiller Troup of 80 Lady Dancers including Ethel Neild from the Gaiety Theatre, London. Inserted in the programme is a photograph of the Theatre's Managing Director H. E. Moss. More of this programme can be seen below.

Although the Empire opened in 1896 it was itself a reconstruction of a much ealier Theatre on the same site, which was designed by Edward Salomons and opened on the 15th of November 1866 as the Prince of Wales Theatre.

The Prince of Wales Theatre would later be altered by C. J. Phipps and renamed the Alexandra Theatre in 1867, and then altered again by C. J. Phipps in 1879.

Matcham's new Empire Theatre of 1896, later altered by the Milburn Brothers in 1925, which still stands on the site today, was a major reconstruction of the former Alexandra Theatre.

There is more on the current Empire Theatre lower down on this page but details of the earlier Theatres on the site now follow:

 

The Prince of Wales Theatre, Liverpool (1866)

Sketch of the Prince of Wales Theatre, Liverpool - From 'The Playgoer' of 1901 - Courtesy Iain Wotherspoon.The Illustrated London News reported on the opening of the Prince of Wales Theatre in their 17th of November 1866 edition saying:- 'The magnificent new theatre at Liverpool, opened, on the 15th ult., under the management of the lessee, Mr. Alexander Henderson, with the best prospects of success, is the building of which Mdlle. Titiens laid the foundation stone about the beginning of this year. It is named the Prince of Wales Theatre, as the smaller one erected two or three years ago at Manchester is called the Prince's Theatre, which has proved, we understand, remarkably successful, as well from the attention paid in its building to the comfort and health of the audience as from the enterprise and intelligence of its management.

Right - A Sketch of the Prince of Wales Theatre, Liverpool - From 'The Playgoer' of 1901 - Courtesy Iain Wotherspoon.

The architect of these theatres is Mr. Edward Salomons of Manchester and Liverpool, who was also the architect of the Manchester New Free-trade Hall. Our Illustration shows the principal front of the Liverpool Prince of Wales's Theatre, which stands in Lime-street, about 64 ft. in height and 84 ft. in width, and is an excellent specimen of the Italian style of architecture, treated in a free and pleasing manner. It is built of fire-brick and Stourton stone. The lower story is composed of a series of five arches, having pilasters with carved capitals between them. To the left is the entrance to the carriage-drive, running the entire length of the building, leading to the chief parts of the house; the archway to the right is the entrance to the pit circle, that in the centre being intended for those visitors to the stalls or dress circle who prefer walking to the theatre instead of coming in their carriages. The centre portion of this floor fronting the street is to be occupied as shops, to one of which extensive supper-rooms are attached. The lion's heads in the above-named capitals are for ventilation as well as ornament, the months being pierced for the former purpose. The lower portion is surmounted by an enriched string-course, from which rise pilasters with handsomely carved capitals. These pilasters inclose five large circular-headed windows, each 9ft. wide by 12 ft. 6in. high, every window being divided a twisted column, from which spring two small arches, inclosed within a larger one. In the tympanum are carved heads of Shakespeare, Schiller, Moliere, Beethoven, and Rossini - emblematically signifying that the building will be devoted both to drama and music. The entablature is of a rich and ornate character, containing panels in the frieze which serve as windows. The cornice is supported by carved modillions, and the whole is surmounted by a perforated and enriched balustrade, which serves to hide the roof in some measure, although it rises to an unusual height, in consequence of its immense span.

The interior is most conveniently arranged. As parties alight from the carriages they enter a roomy apartment, warmed by a stove, and handsomely furnished and decorated, which is intended for a waiting and conversation room. From this room a wide stair-case, 10 ft. wide, covered with a costly carpet, leads to a superb ante-room to the dress-circle. The decorations of this fine room are particularly rich. Ladies' rooms open from it, and by two large folding doors the circle is entered. This is planned pretty much like the Prince's Theatre in Manchester except that it is not so high above the floor of the house, and that from it a short flight of stairs on each side leads to that part of the house commonly known as the pit, but which here is to be entirely occupied by commodious arm-chairs, called stalls.

It is one of the peculiarities of this theatre that the pit, or that part to which the public will be admitted at pit prices, is over the dress-circle, and is, in fact, an unusually large upper circle. In this upper or pit circle the seats are cushioned, and each seat separated from the next by an iron arm. Above all is a loft gallery, and on the same level the slips, an elegant gallery, which contributes much to the ensemble. The fronts of the upper circle and gallery are panelled in blue satin tufted with gold stars, the the pannels separated by artistically-modelled female figures holding festoons.

The front of the dress-circle is not panelled, but is richly gilt, and toned by a skillful admixture of red and black. The upholstery is maroon coloured. The ceiling is divided into sections round the orifice from which the massive chandelier hangs, which, however, are, on the whole, too heavy for the delicate ornamentation of the other parts of the house. A shaft on each side of the theatre receives the heated air driven through ventilators by the cold air from the stage, and, being carried upwards, the shafts converge above the chandelier. This is a new arrangement for ventilation, and there will be some curiosity to know if it is a success.

The stage is very large, and is fitted with everything that the great demands of the modern drama require and that mechanical skill can supply. This has been done by Mr. Drummond, of the Manchester Prince's Theatre under the superintendence of Mr. Salomons. Two or three points deserve special notice. As the stage is always upon an incline, the tendency to fall forward, especially when long cuts in the floor are opened for rising scenes, has to be counteracted by locking the beams with iron bars. The inconvenience of this locking and unlocking has been avoided in this instance by a very simple arrangement. The usually upright beams in the cellar, which support the stage, are not upright, but have a slight leaning the reverse way to the inclination of the stage. Consequently, before they can move forward they must describe the segment of a circle, and as it is impossible for them to become higher than they are, the stage is, therefore, perfectly secure. Again, the wings, or side scenes, are worked upon an ingenious plan. Each wing is attached to a jointed wooden band - a series of wood blocks attached to canvas on the under side, but forming a level floor with the stage when the scene is drawn back, and passing beneath as the wing is pushed forward. The third novelty is with the footlights, which are not visible from any part of the house. They are inclosed in a metal box lined with enamelled iron, and fitted apparently below the level of the stage, which sudden;y slopes about a foot from the lights. The burners are alternately high and low, that their light may be reflected to the scenery above and upon the floor. When required, there is an apparatus for throwing red, green, and other coloured lights on the stage by a sort of cylindrical movement of coloured glass over the footlights, so that the good old system of red or green fire in transformation and other scenes will be entirely done away with. This is a plan suggested by Messrs. Defries and Co., of London, who were the contractors for the Chandelier, footlights, and lamps.

Above the scene dock, parallel with Coal-street, is the scene-painters' room, 47 ft. long and 15½ ft. wide, well lighted by day, and capable of being brilliantly illuminated at night. The room contains two working frames, large enough to paint a cloth 40 ft. by 25 ft., which can be lowered or elevated in order to suit the artist in performing his work. Under the stage, facing Pudsey-street, is the treasury and the board-room for the directors of the company. Below these again are the rooms for gasmen and carpenters, and provision has also been made for a boiler and engine, as the architect hopes to be able to work the stage machine, by steam-power.

On a level with the stage, and looking into Coal-street, are the green-room, the lessee's room, and the dressing-room for the leading "star" (which was tenanted for the first time by Mdlle. Titiens. Above these are three tiers of dressing-rooms for the actors and actresses, all comfortably fitted up and furnished, besides other conveniences. The property-room is immediately above the first tier, and has direct communication with the lower story by means of a hoist. The wardrobe room is situated behind the gallery, and by the same means as that employed in the property-room the dresses will be conveyed to the several dressing-rooms. All the rooms for the use of the ladies and gentlemen connected with the theatre are furnished in good taste; the manager's room and green-room are luxuriousness decorated, and with the luxuousness of a drawing-room.

The building, decorations, stage machinery, chandelier, and other fittings, have been executed from the designs and under the personal superintendence of Mr. Salomons. The general contractors were Messrs. Jones and Sons, of Liverpool.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Illustrated London News, 17th of November 1866.

 

The Royal Alexandra Theatre and Opera House, Liverpool ( 1867)

Formerly - The Prince of Wales Theatre

The Prince of Wales Theatre, Liverpool opened on the 15th of November 1866, but must have been unsatisfactory as the following year in 1867 the Theatre was altered by the well known Theatre Architect C. J. Phipps, and gas lighting was also installed. The Theatre reopened as the Royal Alexandra Theatre & Opera House the same year.

In 1879 C. J. Phipps was again called in to redesign the Theatre, which closed on Saturday the 12th of July 1879. The work included an almost complete remodeling and redecoration of the auditorium, rebuilding and lowering the stage by 8 foot 2 inches, and fitting new stage machinery, altering the decoration of the proscenium and screening off the top because of the lowered stage, painting a new act drop, lowering the pit, altering entrances and exits, and installing new gas and Lime Light equipment. The work was carried out by Jones and Sons of Liverpool, who were responsible for the original construction of the Theatre in 1866. The Theatre reopened on Monday the 20th of October 1879.

The Theatre would carry on in this form for another decade or so but it would be reconstructed again in 1896, this time by the renowned Theatre Architect Frank Matcham, see below:

 

The New Empire Theatre, Liverpool (1896)

Formerly - The Prince of Wales Theatre / Royal Alexandra Theatre & Opera House / Alexandra Theatre / Empire Palace Theatre

The Liverpool Empire Theatre - From the Moss Empires Jubilee Brochure of 1949

Above - The Liverpool Empire Theatre - From the Moss Empires Jubilee Brochure of 1949

Early Programme for the Empire Theatre, Liverpool - Courtesy Peter Charlton.In 1896 the Alexandra Theatre was almost completely reconstructed to the designs of the renowned Theatre Architect Frank Matcham and reopened as the Empire Theatre on the 19th of December 1896 with a production of the pantomime 'Cinderella'.

Right - An early Programme cover for the Empire Theatre, Liverpool - Courtesy Peter Charlton.

The ERA reported on the reconstruction of the Theatre in their 12th of December 1896 edition saying:- 'The old Alexandra Theatre, Liverpool, is now so far as its name is concerned, a building of the past, its varying fortunes having at last brought it into the possession of the indefatigable Mr H. E Moss, who is the managing director of the Liverpool, Leeds, and Hull Empires Co., and this is the first of the three buildings to be opened under the above regime.

The Alexandra, in the hands of the experienced theatrical architect, Mr Frank Matcham, has undergone complete transformation, and little of the old building remains except the walls and roof. The principal external alterations include the erection of a large pediment on the top of the front elevation with the words "Empire Theatre" introduced, large ornamental terminal over the entablature, thus improving the appearance of the front facing. The whole of the entrances, except that to the gallery, are now brought to the front. The side, narrow, undesirable entrances in Coal-street are either entirely abolished or are now utilised for exits. The theatre frontage consisted of five semi-circular headed openings, three of these being utilised as shops; one of these shops has been abolished, and the other two are now placed at the two extreme ends of the frontage, and have handsome mahogany shop fronts introduced, the three centre openings are opened up with lobbies and handsome polished mahogany doors, forming the entrances to the grand circle stalls, upper circle, pit, and pit stalls. Over the whole is a large handsome glass and iron shelter, brilliantly illuminated by electric light.

A new grand vestibule has been formed, with lobbies and double set of doors to prevent draughts, from whence a wide corridor leads through a large crush room, handsomely decorated, to the orchestra stalls. A refreshment saloon off this crush room is provided for this part of the house. The grand vestibule is a large and lofty apartment, the old refreshment saloon on the mezzanine floor being thrown into it. It is handsomely fitted up, all the doors, pay office, and other woodwork being in polished mahogany, the floor laid in mosaic, and the ceiling panelled out with mouldings and enrichments, the centres being filled in with hand paintings of artistic designs.

Opposite the entrances are two large coffered arched openings, with a marble column in the centre from which the arches spring. An entirely new white marble staircase has been constructed, the first flight being of great width, and branching off to the left and right to the grand and upper circles. A very large and handsome brass standard and electrioneer stands in the centre of the first arch, with a tall gold-framed mirror at the rear of it, and a circular mirror of similar design stands in the centre of the other archway. A long white marble seat is placed under the spandril of the staircase. Behind same, very effectively, is introduced a panel imitation of carved ivory...

 

A Programme for the Pantomime 'The House That Jack Built or The Litle Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe' which was produced at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool in December 1897, the year after the Theatre first opened.

Above - A Programme for the Pantomime 'The House That Jack Built or The Litle Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe' which was produced at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool in December 1897, the year after the Theatre first opened. In the cast were Will and Sam and Master Poluski, James Merryles, Harry Yardley, W. E. Ritchie, George and Master Borani, Sydney Vincent, George Sinclair, Emma Pollock, Helene Pillans, Govell, Mabel Gordon, Maggie and kate Brazier, Cassie Ross, Dorothy Dale, Etta Lane, Ethel Milford, Edith Payne, Nettie Waite, George Fearnley, Ruth Davenport, Constance Oxton and The Tiller Troup of 80 Lady Dancers including Ethel Neild from the Gaiety Theatre, London. Inserted in the programme is a photograph of the Theatre's Managing Director H. E. Moss.

Variety Programme for the Empire Palace Theatre for the week of November 27th 1905. On the Bill were George Lashwood, Will Evans, Hanid Alexander, The Wedburns, The Bandurrias, Pat Carey, Billy Farrell, Fred Clements, O. G. Seymour, and the American Bioscope.

Above - Variety Programme for the Empire Palace Theatre for the week of November 27th 1905. On the Bill were George Lashwood, Will Evans, Hanid Alexander, The Wedburns, The Bandurrias, Pat Carey, Billy Farrell, Fred Clements, O. G. Seymour, and the American Bioscope.

 

...The original winding and inconvenient staircase to the dress-circle has been done away with, and the space thus obtained has been thrown into the pit. Two other very undesirable staircases that led to the gallery and upper circle have also been removed, and the space thus obtained is added to the pit, which, together with the fact that the curtain line has been thrown back from 10ft. to 12ft. shows that the new Empire now possesses one of the finest pits in the kingdom. The existing foyer has been retained undisturbed, except that a handsome polished wood and glass screen has been erected, forming a new passage from the staircase leading direct to the grand circle. A polished wood counter with handsome fittings has been placed in the foyer, and the whole room is artistically redecorated and refurnished in light colours and gold...

The auditorium of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

Above - The auditorium of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

 

The auditorium ceiling of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R....The removal of the old dangerous and twisting staircases to the upper circle and gallery was a necessity, and in their stead a fine new wide stone staircase has been erected leading to the rear of the upper circle, and another new staircase built at the side of the proscenium leading direct to the gallery. This has done away with the greater length of the undesirable subway, and a much better and safer entrance altogether is now obtained.

Right - The auditorium ceiling of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

The old gallery and upper circle staircase in Coal-street have been retained, but altered and improved to suit the new levels. The pit entrance occupies one of the arched openings in the front, and by a special arrangement the doors to the pit crush-room allow the patrons to pass singly to the pay-box without crushing, and the exit is always kept clear and uninterrupted. Retiring-rooms and a fine saloon is provided for this part of the house. The gallery entrance will be at the side from Coal-street by the existing staircase, which has been improved and altered to suit the new levels of the gallery...

 

The auditorium and stage of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

Above - The auditorium and stage of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

The auditorium and stage of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R....The greatest alteration will, however, be found in the auditorium. The dress and upper circles have been rearranged so that much improved sight lines have been obtained, but the architect could do nothing with the old gallery, which was dangerously steep and badly arranged for sight, so that it was pulled down and an entire new one erected on quite new lines, and the consequence is that one of the finest galleries for comfort, convenience, and seeing has resulted from this most desirable alteration. The old private boxes and the proscenium have been cleared away, and a new scheme altogether carried out, the effect being a complete success. The old proscenium has been widened to over 40ft., and, the wall face lined with marble, and a new proscenium opening erected 10ft, behind the same, with a circular arched opening. Between the two prosceniums are very handsomely decorated stage boxes with canopies over, and under these are draped entrances leading to the front of the stage for the use of artistes when taking a call.

Left - The auditorium and stage of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

At the sides next the auditorium are groups of further private boxes, making ten in all, and under the box arcades are the entrances to the orchestra stalls. The effect of the whole, carried out in rich arabesque design, is grand, and with the old gold plush box draperies and the tableaux curtains quite a luxurious effect has been obtained. The whole of the decorations are from Mr Matcham's design, and, with the rich colouring and pictures in the ceiling and panels and the illuminations by the electric light, it appears that the Liverpool Empire will compare favourably with any similar building in London. The comfort of the audience has also met with most careful consideration from the architect. Retiring rooms, lounges, with luxurious settees, thick velvet carpets, and most comfortable seating in all parts will help to make a visit to the Empire enjoyable...

 

The auditorium of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

Above - The auditorium of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

The auditorium and stage of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

Above - The auditorium and stage of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

...The stage and dressing-rooms have undergone very little alteration, but these parts of the house, together with the front, are now heated by hot-water pipes and coils, and the whole lighted by electricity. The safety of the audience has not been forgotten, a patent fireproof curtain divides the stage from the auditorium, iron doors have been fixed, and all staircases and corridors are formed of fire-resisting materials, with handrails both sides of all staircases, and the doors fitted with patent alarm exit bolts. Hydrants are placed in all parts of the house, with the usual hose and fittings. The new house will open on the 19th with Mr Oscar Barrett's pantomime Cinderella; and, after that has run its course, a highclass music hall show will be put on under Mr Moss's experienced direction.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 12th December 1896.

 

Postcard showing the New Empire Theatre, LiverpoolThe newly reconstructed Theatre opened as the Empire Theatre on the 19th of December 1896 with a production of the pantomime 'Cinderella' and would go on to stage music hall and variety productions for many years. Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed his two act play 'An Amateur Detective' at the Liverpool Empire just a few years after it opened, in December 1899.

Right - An early Postcard showing the Empire Theatre, Liverpool.

In 1925 the Empire was altered by the Milburn Brothers. Their new auditorium for the Theatre had just two levels, stalls and circle, and only two boxes, facing the auditorium rather than the stage. The Theatre was designed for both live shows and film presentations, with a seating capacity of 1,925. The Theatres Trust says of the Theatre today that it is:- 'one of the best surviving works of W & T R Milburn, who are gaining recognition as being amongst the most competent theatre architects in a period when consensus over the design of such buildings had all but collapsed. - The Theatres Trust.

Tony Thompson, Trustee of the Empire Theatre (Merseyside) Trust takes up the story of the Empire's later years saying, in 2005:- 'The Empire is today a Grade II Listed Building, and is owned by The Empire Theatre (Merseyside) Trust Ltd., a registered charity. A trust was set up by Merseyside County Council in 1979 when MCC rescued the theatre which was scheduled for closure by Moss Empires.

The Council started with a programme of decoration and repair but found that the operational losses needed a substantial subsidy. After five years this annual subsidy had reached £600,000. In 1986, local government reorganisation ended the life of the County Council and the Trust, now independent, became the owner of the Empire Theatre.

The auditorium of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

Above - The auditorium of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

Apollo Leisure was appointed as managers responsible for all commercial risks and for the maintenance of the property. This removed the need for public sector subsidy. In 1995 the building was in its 70th year and in need of major improvements. Apollo Leisure had brought life back to the theatre and increased audiences, but the larger touring shows and popular musicals could not be accommodated.

The Trust decided to completely refurbish the building and increase the depth of the stage. Liverpool City Council was supportive in planning terms and was interested in a theatre extension that is now on the site of "The Legs of Man" a former public house. In July 1999 The Queen came to Liverpool and reopened the main theatre building.

The total capital project cost some £11 million which was financed from an Arts Council Lottery Grant, Apollo Leisure, European 'Objective One' funding and many generous donors.

The auditorium of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

Above - The auditorium of the Liverpool Empire in 2013 - Courtesy K.R.

The final project, the Atrium and Annexe, was completed in 2002. The theatre managers are now (2005) Clear Channel Entertainment. The capital improvements have proved to be a great success and the Empire Trust is looking forward to the theatre playing a big role in Liverpool's special Year of Culture in 2008.'

The textual information in quotes above is courtesy Tony Thompson, Trustee - The Empire Theatre (Merseyside) Trust, 2005.

The Theatre was bought by the Ambassador Theatre Group in November 2009 and you may like to visit their own Website for the Theatre here.

Archive newspaper reports on this page were kindly collated and sent in for inclusion by B.F.

 

The Empire Theatre, Liverpool by Donald Auty

Empire Theatre, Liverpool PostcardThis theatre is a big one 2348 seats all on two levels. It was rebuilt by Milburn brothers in 1925 on two levels and designed so that it could quickly switch to being a cinema should the necessity arise. There are two boxes that give you a wonderful view of the back of the circle. With a sparse audience it can be an empty barn of a place but it heaves with vigour when the house is full.

Right - The Empire Theatre, Liverpool - From a postcard.

Neil Brookes who went on to the London Palladium was manager there. He arrived at the theatre one morning to find himself locked out of his office by the auditors. There was a £100,000 missing from one of the theatres and they were not sure which one it was. It's no good looking here said Neil we have not taken £100,000 in the last year. The missing money was eventually traced to the London Palladium and Harry Claff the box office manager did a prison sentence for theft.The stage was below street level and a hydraulic lift used to take the scenery up and down during get in and get outs. It had an overflow that poured out gallons of water each time it was used. You had to do some nifty footwork in order not to get your feet soaked. There was also a lift to the upper floor dressing rooms that was always breaking down and causing the artistes to miss their entrances. The first thing I always did on arrival was to remove the fuses for it so that it could not be used. The lighting switchboard was in the scene dock on the O.P and was an old strand pattern preceding the grand master. It seemed to stretch for miles and required up to four men to work it.

The Auditorium of the Liverpool Empire in 2008 - Courtesy Charlie Gracie Junior.

Above - The Auditorium of the Liverpool Empire in 2008 - Courtesy Charlie Gracie Junior.

Programme for 'Sunny' at the Liverpool Empire in October 1927. The production originally opened at the London Hippodrome on October the 7th 1926.The resident stage manager was Jack.Roach who came from a long family line of stage carpenters. He was a lazy bugger and used to make the excuse for not doing work that he suffered from the same prostrate trouble that the then Prime Minister Harold McMillan had. This gave a kind of cachet to his idleness. I was sat in the crew room drinking tea with the stage crew and Phil Hindin the agent one Monday morning during the fit up break. Jack Roach pointed to the tea pot and said George Black the late managing director of Moss Empires used to drink out of that. Yes I can see his teeth marks on the spout replied Phil.

Tommy Trinder's brother Fred Dexter was the chief electrician. One week end during the last days of variety we were having trouble with the limes picking up people. At this time the theatre was closed three weeks out of four and stage staff was badly paid and hard to come by. Jimmy Edwards bollocked Fred about it one night. Fred said I breathe a sigh of relief every time the bloody lime comes on let alone picks up artistes.

Left - Programme for 'Sunny' at the Liverpool Empire in October 1927. The production originally opened at the London Hippodrome on October the 7th 1926.

Maurice Mclean was musical director with a fourteen piece orchestra and lived in Stockport. We used to go over to the press club after the show that was open late. There was a train at one in the morning that went to Stockport and Maurice used to catch this with quite a few drinks under his belt. After the train arrived in Stockport it used to return empty to Liverpool so it was in place in the morning. Maurice used to fall asleep on the journey to Stockport and quite few times awoke to find himself back in Liverpool and had to go and knock up the night watchman and sleep in a dressing room for the rest of the night.
The theatre is now very successful and is owned by Clear Channel Television like a few Moss dates it was threatened in the seventies but survived.

Above text from Moss Empires Theatres in the Fifties written by Donald Auty for this site.