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The Gaumont Theatre, 44 to 50 Oxford Street, Manchester

Formerly - The Hippodrome Theatre - Later - Rotters Nightclub

Manchester Theatres Index

The Gaumont Theatre, Manchester, from the Theatre's opening Souvenir Programme - Courtesy Alan Walker.

Above - The Gaumont Theatre, Manchester, from the Theatre's opening Souvenir Programme - Courtesy Alan Walker.

The cover of the Souvenir Programme celebrating the opening of the Gaumont Theatre in October 1935 - Courtesy Alan Walker.The Gaumont Theatre in Manchester's Oxford Street was built as a large and lavish 2,300 seat Cine / Variety Theatre and constructed on part of the site of the former Hippodrome Theatre by the Granada Theatre Circuit. However, the Theatre was sold to Gaumont British Theatres before it opened, hence the Gaumont Theatre name for its opening.

The Theatre was designed by William T Benslyn and James Morrison with an exterior in the Italian Renaissance Style and an interior by the well known Cinema interior designer Theodore Komisarjevsky. Parts of the old Hippodrome, which closed on the 2nd of March 1935, were used in its construction. The new Theatre was opened by Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale on Monday the 21st of October 1935. The main feature being the just released Alfred Hitchcock film 'The 39 Steps'.

Right - The cover of the Souvenir Programme celebrating the opening of the Gaumont Theatre in October 1935 - Courtesy Alan Walker whose Mother's Cousin was Stanley Tudor, the organist for the opening of the Gaumont Theatre.

The Foundation Stone for the Granada Theatre, Manchester, which was actually opened as the Gaumont Theatre after being bought by Gaumont-British during the Theatre's Construction.The ERA reported on the name change in their 2nd of October 1935 edition saying:- 'The Granada, now being built by Bernstein Theatres on the site of the old Hippodrome, Manchester, has passed into the ownership of Gaumont-British for a sum, it is stated, approximating to £300,000. There are to be no changes in plan or decoration, and the Bernstein Theatres, Ltd., will complete the building as intended.

Above Left - The Foundation Stone for the Granada Theatre, Manchester, which was actually opened as the Gaumont Theatre after being bought by Gaumont-British during the Theatre's Construction.

Cast Details for the Opening of the Gaumont Theatre, Manchester from the Souvenir Programme for the opening of the Theatre in October 1935 - Courtesy Alan Walker.Instead of the house opening on October 7, however, the date will be deferred, provisionally, until the 16th. The first performance is to be a special civic occasion.

The manager is to be W. A. Hock-man, of the Gaumont, Lewisham. The theatre will be elaborately equipped for stage shows, and there will be seating for 2,500 people.

It will have one of the longest licensed bars in the North of England, running underneath the foyer. On the entrance floor a waiting-hall capable of holding 1,500 persons will do away with street queues.

Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale recently laid the foundation stone in the foyer. This has the name "Granada" upon it, and I hear it is not to be changed.' - The ERA, 2nd of October 1935.

Left - Cast Details for the Opening of the Gaumont Theatre, Manchester from the Souvenir Programme for the opening of the Theatre in October 1935 - Courtesy Alan Walker whose Mother's Cousin was Stanley Tudor, the organist for the opening of the Gaumont Theatre.

Celebrating STANLEY TUDOR-Gaumont Manchester
Celebrating STANLEY TUDOR-Gaumont Manchester

The Gaumont Theatre was opened by Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale on the 21st of October 1935. The Theatre's auditorium was on two levels, stalls and one circle, and the stage was 50 foot wide and 23 foot deep so capable of staging all manner of productions.

Right - A video celebrating Stanley Tudor and the opening of the Manchester Gaumont in 1935, which has some wonderful shots of the Theatre's Auditorium, Foyers, and bars. Another video of Doreen Chadwick playing the Mighty Wurlitzer also shows some very nice shots of the interior.

Stanley Tudor, the organist for the opening of the Gaumont Theatre, at home with his daughter Ann, his wife Nellie and his mother Lizzie - Courtesy Alan Walker whose Mother's Cousin was Stanley Tudor.The Theatre was also equipped with its own 4 Manual 14 Rank Wurlitzer organ which also had a grand piano installed and was thought to be one of the best such instruments in Britain. On the Theatre's opening the Organ was played by Stanley Tudor who can be seen at the organ below, and at home with his family left. A film about Stanley Tudor and the opening of the Gaumont Theatre, along with some wonderful images of the Theatre's exterior and interior, can be seen above right.

Left - Stanley Tudor, the organist for the opening of the Gaumont Theatre, at home with his daughter Ann, his wife Nellie and his mother Lizzie - Courtesy Alan Walker whose Mother's Cousin was Stanley Tudor.

A signed photograph of Stanley Tudor who played the Wurlitzer organ at the opening of the Gaumont Theatre, Manchester in October 1935 - Courtesy Gordon Crook

Above - A signed photograph of Stanley Tudor who played the Wurlitzer organ at the opening of the Gaumont Theatre, Manchester in October 1935 - Courtesy Gordon Crook who says 'The organ console is very much of the later Granada style as used in their many cinemas, also it was a near copy of the Granada Tooting specification.'

'Facts' about the construction of the Gaumont Theatre, Manchester from the Souvenir Programme for the opening of the Theatre in October 1935 - Courtesy Alan Walker.The Dundee Evening Telgraph carried a report on the building of the Theatre in their 4th of November 1935 edition saying:- 'Our Part in Theatre Building - Dundee had its share of material required for the erection in Oxford Street, Manchester, of what is described as the "Wonder Theatre of the North." It is the property of the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation, Ltd., and was recently opened.

Right - 'Facts' about the construction of the Gaumont Theatre, Manchester from the Souvenir Programme for the opening of the Theatre in October 1935 - Courtesy Alan Walker whose Mother's Cousin was Stanley Tudor, the organist for the opening of the Gaumont Theatre.

Manchester workmen established a record in building the theatre. It was on March 6th, a mere seven months ago, that they embarked on the task of erecting the building. A job such as this usually takes ten months, but they cut down the time by more than 12 weeks.

In addition work has been indirectly provided for men and women belonging to 47 different firms scattered throughout the world.

It used up 34 miles of electric wire and 1¾ miles of silk damask. Then there were 2500 square yards of linoleum from Kirkcaldy, 5 miles of webbing from Dundee, and 5000 yards of canvas from Dundee.'

The above text in quotes was first published in The Evening Telegraph, 4th of November 1935.

'Today's Programme' from the Souvenir Programme celebrating the opening of the Gaumont Theatre in October 1935 - Courtesy Alan Walker whose Mother's Cousin was Stanley Tudor, the organist for the opening of the Gaumont Theatre.

Above - 'Today's Programme' from the Souvenir Programme celebrating the opening of the Gaumont Theatre in October 1935 - Courtesy Alan Walker whose Mother's Cousin was Stanley Tudor, the organist for the opening of the Gaumont Theatre.

A small handbill for an All Star Variety show at the Gaumont Theatre, Manchester in January 1941 - Courtesy Tony CraigThe Gaumont Theatre was very successful right from its opening in 1935 until its eventual closure in January 1974. It had been used as a 'Roadshow Cinema' in the 1950s and 60s with long seasons of popular films including 'South Pacific' which ran at the Theatre for over two years from April 1958. And 'The Sound of Music' which ran for 2½ years from April 1965.

Right - A small handbill for an All Star Variety show at the Gaumont Theatre, Manchester in January 1941 - Courtesy Tony Craig, whose mother Jessie Jewel was on the Bill along with Donald Peers who, says Tony, 'wasn't at the height of his fame yet, as he didn't record his biggest hit "In A Shady Nook, By A Babbling Brook" till 1944... and he must have got leave for that Sunday Concert, because he was still in 'The Royal Army Service Corps', (but he entertained the Troops through The War anyway).'

After the Theatre's closure on the 25th of January 1974 it remained closed and boarded up until it was converted for nightclub use as 'Rotters Nightclub' using the ground floor and basement levels, whilst the original circle remained unused.

Rotters Nightclub was also eventually closed in 1990 and sadly the old Theatre was then demolished. Its site then remained vacant for a few years until a multi-storey car park was eventually constructed in the Theatre's place.

Some of the information on this page was gleaned from the excellent Cinema Treasures website and there is also some interesting information and images about the Gaumont here.

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

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