The Royal Osborne Theatre, Oldham Road, Manchester
Later - The New
Osborne Theatre / The Thunderdome
Above - Early Photograph of a Horse and Carriage outside the Royal Osborne Theatre, Manchester - Courtesy Philip Gee.
The Royal Osborne Theatre, Manchester opened on Monday the 13th of April 1896 with a production of 'The Priest Hunter', and was designed by the architect J. J. Alley who also built several other Theatres in Manchester, including the Metropole, the Hulme Hippodrome and Playhouse, and the Queens Park Hippodrome along with the Pavilion Theatre in Liverpool, and several others in the Broadhead Circuit.
Right - A Programme for a staff gathering for the 25th Anniversary of the Royal Osborne Theatre, Manchester on April the 17th 1921 - Courtesy Philip Gee.
The ERA printed a review of the opening in their 18th of April 1896 edition saying: 'This new theatre, which was opened on Monday, adds another to the numerous places of entertainment in the city. It is situated in Oldham-road in Northeast Manchester, a district which, though densely populated, has hitherto been singularly destitute of public amusements, and on this account the theatre supplies a want long felt by the inhabitants of the locality, and promises to compensate the proprietor, Mr W. H. Broadhead, of Manchester and Blackpool, for his enterprise.
The building is a large and spacious one designed from plans by Mr J. J. Alley, architect, of Manchester and Altrincham, who has endeavoured to combine safety with comfort and artistic effect. It stands entirely detached from any other building, and its internal design secures an uninterrupted view of the stage from every part of the house. It is seated to accommodate some 3,000 persons; the pit area alone supplying accommodation for 1,200 of that number. The pit slopes rapidly down to the orchestra, while the dress-circle above forms the base of a splendid amphitheatre which rises from the centre of the pit with the gallery as a background. The dress-circle is surrounded by side and back stalls and with the gallery as a continuation of the same slope. The interior has a bright and pleasing aspect and is lighted by means of electric light, while a perfect arrangement for heating and ventilating the building adds to the comfort of the audience.
A successful opening performance was witnessed on Monday evening, when Mr Hubert O'Grady and his company produced The Priest Hunter to an immense audience, Mr Hubert O'Grady played with much unctuous humour the part of Mickey Mackinaspie, the priest hunter, and he was well supported.
William Henry Broadhead was the owner and manager of the Royal Osborne Theatre from its opening, along with several other Theatres around the Country under the operation of the Broadhead Circuit. He was elected Mayor of Blackpool in 1905 and then re-elected in 1910. In October 1932 the Royal Osborne Theatre and several others in the circuit were put up for auction owing to William Broadhead's death in Apil 1931. The Royal Osborne sold for £6,500.
Left - A Programme extract with details of forthcoming attractions at the Royal Osborne Theatre, Manchester, and other Theatres in the W. H. Broadhead & Sons Group. - From a Music Hall Bill at the King's Theatre, Manchester for Monday the 10th of December 1906 - Courtesy Anthony Scott.
The Royal Osborne Theatre suffered a fire in 1958 but was reconstructed and renamed the New Osborne, there is an image of the building in this incarnation here. In the 1970's it was in use as a roller disco and by the late 1980's it was home to an acid house club called The Thunderdome, rivaling the Hacienda.
If you have any more information about this Theatre, especially in its later years, or have programmes or images you are willing to share please Contact me.
Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.
You may find the following pages from this site of interest: