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The Gaiety Theatre, Peter Street, Manchester

Formerly - The Comedy Theatre

Manchester Index

An early 1900s postcard showing the Comedy Theatre, Manchester - Later the Gaiety, during a production of the pantomime 'Cinderella' - Courtesy Maurice Friedman, British Music hall Society.

Above - An early 1900s postcard showing the Comedy Theatre, Manchester - Later the Gaiety, during a production of the pantomime 'Cinderella' - Courtesy Maurice Friedman, British Music hall Society.

 

The auditorium of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.The Gaiety Theatre, in Peter Street, Manchester was built by Alfred Darbyshire for United Theatres Co Ltd with John Hart as the licensee, and originally opened as the Comedy Theatre in 1884, with a capacity of 2,500. The stage was 27' deep by 31' 6" wide, with a proscenium height of 25' and a furthur 24' 6" to the grid. The Theatre was fitted with an orchestra pit.

Right - The auditorium of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.

Detail of the stage right side of the auditorium and stage of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.The Theatre was bought by Miss A. E. F. Horniman on the 9th of September 1908 for £25,000, and reconstructed by the renowned Theatre architect Frank Matcham, reopening as the Gaiety Theatre in 1912, under her management, with a reduced capacity of 1,300.

Left - Detail of the stage right side of the auditorium and stage of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.

In his book 'Miss Horniman, and the Gaiety Theatre Manchester Radcliffe' published in 1952, R Pogson states that:

Detail of the auditorium ceiling of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.'The whole of the interior had been remodelled to provide every part of the house with good seeing and hearing and to make every seat comfortable. The upper circle and gallery, rebuilt on the cantilever principle, were now free of supporting materials; in the pit all that remained were steel columns three inches in diameter, causing the least possible obstruction to the view.

Right - Detail of the auditorium ceiling of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.

The auditorium of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.By setting the ground floor seats in the "well" method it had been possible to lower the upper circle and gallery and to reduce the slope. There was less projection of the upper circle over the pit and of the gallery over the upper circle. Plush tip up seats were provided everywhere save in the gallery, but even there the seats were flush and divided by rails so that all could be reserved.

Left - The auditorium of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.

The decorative scheme was even more surprising. Gilt had been eliminated, a thing unheard of in theatre decoration at that time, and the prevailing tones were white and red. The stage had been relaid but not altered in size, and was framed by mottled marble, whilst the wall space above it had representations in white of old fashioned ships; the Gaiety had of course, adopted a ship as its emblem. Behind the stage, both offices and dressing rooms had been rebuilt and improved and fronted with fireproof walls.'

Above text in quotes from R. Pogson's 'Miss Horniman; the Gaiety Theatre,' 1952. - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.

 

The Gaiety Theatre, Manchester during the run of 'Look Back In Anger.' - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.

Above - The Gaiety Theatre, Manchester during the run of 'Look Back In Anger.' - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.

The auditorium and stage of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.

Above - The auditorium and stage of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester - Courtesy The Theatres Trust.

By 1912 the Theatre's capacity had been furthur reduced to 1,029.

The Gaiety Theatre was in use from its opening in 1884 until 1922, although in 1920 it was taken over by Samuel Fitton & Associates. By 1945 it was being managed by H. Buxton and was in use again until 1947.

The Gaiety Theatre was demolished in 1959.

The above information, (edited,) and images of Frank Matcham's reconstructed Gaiety Theatre were kindly supplied by the Theatres Trust in 2008.

 

A Theatre Token / Coin for Charlie Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester commencing 11th January 1926 for 4 weeks. - Courtesy Allan Judd A Theatre Token / Coin for Charlie Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester commencing 11th January 1926 for 4 weeks. - Courtesy Allan Judd

A Theatre Token / Coin for Charlie Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester commencing 11th January 1926 for 4 weeks. - Courtesy Allan Judd A Theatre Token / Coin for Charlie Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester commencing 11th January 1926 for 4 weeks. - Courtesy Allan Judd

Above - A Theatre Token / Coin for Charlie Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester commencing 11th January 1926 for 4 weeks. - Courtesy Allan Judd - The reverse of one coin states: 'These discs to be obtained only from the Electric Printing Co. Cinema Printers + Barker St. Strangeways, Manchester.

 

Coin for Charlie Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester commencing 11th January 1926 for 4 weeks. - Courtesy Chris Walker. Coin for Charlie Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester commencing 11th January 1926 for 4 weeks. - Courtesy Chris Walker.

Above - Another copy of the Coins for Charlie Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester commencing 11th January 1926 for 4 weeks. - Courtesy Chris Walker.

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