Home Page
The Music Hall and Theatre History Website

Home - Index - New - Maps - Contact



 

The Theatre Royal, 8 Angel Street, Worcester

Formerly - The Angel Street Theatre - Later - The New Royal and Opera House / Theatre Royal and Palace of Varieties

A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Theatre Royal, Worcester - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Theatre Royal, Worcester - Click to Interact. A photograph of the Theatre itself can be seen here.

 

A postcard showing the Rebuilt Theatre Royal, Worcester of 1903 - Courtesy Sarah Wyatt.The Theatre Royal in Angel Street, Worcester was first opened to the public in 1805 and was a renaming of the earlier Angel Street Theatre which had been built in 1779 at a cost of £1,000. A poster for the 1805 Theatre Royal, in 1826, can be seen here. This Theatre was however, eventually demolished in 1874 and a new Theatre was built on its site, opening to the public on the 18th of January 1875. This Theatre Royal of 1875 was designed by the well known Theatre Architect C. J. Phipps, but sadly the Theatre was destroyed by fire just a few years later on the 24th of November 1877.

Rebuilding of the Theatre was approved by Shareholders on the 8th of February 1878, at a cost not exceeding £3000, taken from the insurance money paid out for the fire. By the 23rd of March 1878 tenders had been received for the rebuild and the tender by Messrs Wood & Sons for £2,200 was accepted, the highest tender having been for £2,465. The Theatre was rebuilt to the designs of its original architect, C. J. Phipps.

Right - A postcard showing the again Rebuilt Theatre Royal, Worcester of 1903 - Courtesy Sarah Wyatt. Compare this with the StreetView image shown above.

On Friday 11th of October 1878 Mr T.C. King, the father in law of Arthur Lloyd, took possession of the newly rebuilt Theatre with the opening intended for Monday the 21st of October 1878. King would open the Theatre on this date with a production of 'As You Like It' with himself and his daughter Bessie King in the leading roles. Robert Lloyd, Arthur Lloyd's brother, is also known to have performed at the Theatre Royal during this period in May 1879. Sadly the running of the Theatre Royal was to be an 'an unprofitable speculation' for T. C. King and he would give up the lease and resume his work as and actor rather than a manager in 1880. However, the press of the time were enthusiastic about King's opening of the Theatre which can be seen in the report below.

 

 

The Opening of the Theatre Royal, Worcester

From - Berrows Journal, 26th October 1878

'Under ordinary circumstances the opening of the Theatre by a new lessee, even if so well known as Mr. T. C. King, would be an event of no little interest to the play-loving public; but when it is remembered that barely eleven months ago the old Theatre was destroyed by fire, the opening of the new, improved, and elegant structure in Angel-street is an event which deserves some attention from the local historian, as well as from the chronicler of mere news.

Whatever Worcester was when Shakespeare came to it, a mere youth, to obtain his marriage licence, it certainly had no Theatre, even though the servants of her Majesty, or my Lord Leicester, may have occasionally visited it. The first notice of a public Theatre performance in this city dated in the year 1717, but the erection of a Theatre on the site of the present building does not go farther back than 1780. The late Theatre was purchased by a limited liability company in 1874. The present building, as we have before announced, is built on the same lines as the one destroyed by fire, with such alterations and improvements as the skill and experience of the architect could suggest.

The appearance of the auditorium, when it was lit up on Monday night, was brilliant without gaudiness, and there were long-continued murmurs of approbation as the house filled and its pleasing proportions and graceful outlines became visible. The rising of the baize curtain when the orchestra began revealed the elegant art drop painted by Mr. Gordon. It represents satin and looped damask drapery surrounding the representation of a pastoral scene. The audience testified their pleasure by loud applause.

Mr. T. C. King, who has a world-wide reputation as an actor of high merit, had fixed on "As You Like It" for the opening piece. There was much to justify such a choice, for the moralising Jaques has much to say on the passions and foibles of mankind, as well as to remind the audience that "All the world's a stage." The scenic action is confined to a few rural and sylvan scenes, which could not over tax the powers of the scenic staff on a first night. There were many misgivings as to the perfection of the arrangements, but all passed off smoothly and merrily as a marriage bell, for Mr. King had collected around him artists of merit to fill the leading parts in support of himself and his talented daughter, as well as the proffered help of many friends from a distance, who kindly volunteered their assistance in case of any unforeseen difficulty...

...It is only just to those who have been concerned in the work to record that the contractors for the building have been Messrs. Wood and Sons, of Worcester; the decorations have been executed by Mr. Edward Bell, of London; the dress circle seats, by Wadman Bros., of Bath; the sunlight and stage apparatus, by Shale and Co., of London; the balcony front has been executed in patent plaster, by Messrs. Jackson and Sons, London; the curtains and upholstery, by Maple and Co., of London, and Mr. Williams, of Worcester; and the whole of the works in every department have been designed and executed under the immediate direction of C. J. Phipps, Esq., F.S.A., of 26, Mecklenborgh-square, London, architect to the company. Mr. A Jeffries has been clerk of the works.'

The above text in quotes (edited) was first published in Berrows Journal, 26th October 1878.

 

In 1903 the Theatre Royal was demolished and rebuilt again, reopening on Monday the 19th of January 1903. The Stage Newspaper reported on the new Theatre in their 15th of January 1903 edition saying:- 'To the many theatres controlled by Mr. Arthur Carlton, that gentleman has recently added the Royal, Worcester - now called the New Royal and Opera House - long in the occupation of the late Mr. W. Gomersal. Deeming it wiser to rebuild rather than tinker at alterations, Mr. Carlton caused the old Royal to be demolished.

The Auditorium of the Theatre Royal, Worcester - Courtesy Roy Cross

Above - The Auditorium of the Theatre Royal, Worcester - Courtesy Roy Cross

The present new building which replaces it will be opened by the Right Hon. the Earl of Coventry, Lord-Lieutenant of Worcester, on Monday next, January 19, at three o'clock, when Mr. Chas. Macdonald's company will present The Gay Parisienne. The gathering will be a representative one, most of the county families in the district having signified their intention of being present.

The Royal, it may be stated in brief, has been rebuilt at a cost of over £3,000, and is now brought up to date in every detail, and furnished luxuriously. Outside an elaborate portico has been erected, stretching across the entire front of the theatre. The dress circle is approached by a marble staircase. The architects who have carried out the work are Messrs. Rowe and Sons, of Worcester, and the furnishing has been done by Messrs. Popham and Radford, of Plymouth, whose manager, Mr. W. Morton Evans, is responsible for many improvements in theatre appliances.

The Proscenium and Stage of the Theatre Royal, Worcester - Courtesy Roy Cross

Above - The Proscenium and Stage of the Theatre Royal, Worcester - Courtesy Roy Cross

The sumptuous plush tableau curtain has cost over £400. Great improvements are to be noticed behind the scenes. The stage now measures 50 ft. by 45 ft., and is fitted with every modern appliance. A new block of dressing rooms has been erected on adjoining land, with a view to providing ample accommodation for the larger companies on tour. The entire theatre, both front and back, is efficiently heated; and the lighting is by electricity . It may be noted that over seventy tenders were received for the lease of this theatre.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Stage Newspaper, January15th, 1903.

A Variety Poster for the Theatre Royal, Worcester - Courtesy Roy Cross.In 1910 a projection box was added to the rear of the stage and the Theatre was reopened as the Theatre Royal and Palace of Varieties, showing early films along with its variety shows.

However, not long afterwards the Theatre was again plagued by fire, on February the 18th 1912, when it destroyed the Theatre's Stage and roof. The Fire Curtain was not able to protect the auditorium fully and a great deal of smoke damage occurred here too. However, the FOH areas and the facade were not damaged due to the work of the local fire brigade who eventually brought the fire under control. The damage was estimated to have been between £7,000 and £8,000 but was covered by insurance, and the Theatre was soon rebuilt, reopening in August 1912.

Right - A Variety Poster for the Theatre Royal, Worcester - Courtesy Roy Cross. On the Bill were Ted & Barbara Andrews, Billy Maxom, The Dancing Hollands, Jean Chadwick, Joe Aston & Renee, Stand Jay & Joan, Juliette, and Verdini.

The Theatre then continued in use for several decades, mostly as a Variety Theatre, but sometimes as a Playhouse and Repertory Theatre, until it was finally closed on the 28th of May 1955. The Theatre then stood derelict until it was demolished in 1957 and a car showroom was built on its site. At the time of writing, in March 2015, a Somerfield Supermarket currently stands on the site.

A photograph of the Theatre Royal, Worcester can be seen here.

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

Some of the 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: