Manchester has an amazing theatre history. We have looked into our huge theatre collection to show you some of the theatres that are no longer there and also some that still are. Some buildings are still there but are no longer theatres. Why not start the journey looking back at this fantastic resource. We will show you the first theatre in Manchester and many more after that. You may love the theatre or have never been to a show but this memory box will give you the chance to find out more or speak to the people you know and ask them to share their memories of their own visits to the theatre. Get ready for the curtain to go up and the show to begin.
Since the first lockdown in March 2020, Archives+ has published 20 online memory boxes covering some of the neighbourhoods in Manchester. Below you will find a collection of theatre images to enjoy. Dig out your old photos too, these can also be a brilliant resource to trigger fond memories of family times. We encourage you to share your findings on social media, either as comments on our Facebook page or on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #ArchivesPlusMemorybox
If you are unable to share your photos and stories online, when libraries are open, bring copies of your family memories into the library. In the coming year we will produce an exhibition in your local library of selected submissions, shared both online and in person.
Please make sure that if you share any information with us that the person you have spoken to is happy for you to share it with Archives+. When sharing your findings try to avoid sharing too much personal information such as surnames and date of birth as these details can identify your loved ones.
NSPCC Staying safe online guide for children.
Age UK Staying safe online guide for older people
Manchester Theatres built between 1753 – 1891
MARSDEN THEATRE, Manchester’s first theatre, opened in 1753 and closed in 1775.
THEATRE ROYAL Spring Gardens opened in 1775, but was destroyed by fire in 1789. It reopened in 1790 and closed again in 1807. It was renamed the Queen’s Theatre in 1827, closing again in 1869.
THEATRE ROYAL Fountain Street opened in 1807 and was destroyed by fire in 1844.
THEATRE ROYAL Peter Street opened in 1845, closed in 1921. It is Manchester’s oldest surviving theatre building. It is now owned by Edwardian Hotels London.
Gentlemen’s Concert Hall opened in 1830, demolished in 1898. The Midland Hotel now stands on this site.
FREE TRADE HALL opened in 1856, was bombed in 1940 during WWII and reopened in 1951. It was home to the Hallé Orchestra for over 138 years and finally closed its doors in 1996. The building is now The Edwardian Manchester, a Radisson Collection hotel.
Prince’s Theatre opened in 1864, closed in 1940. The building Peter House is now situated on this site.
ALEXANDRA MUSIC HALL opened in 1865. It was renamed the Folly Theatre of Varieties in 1879 and The Tivoli in 1897, with the curtain coming down and the doors closing in 1921.
QUEEN’S THEATRE opened in 1870, but was destroyed by fire in 1890, reopening in 1891. It closed in 1911 and the building was later demolished in 1929. The Masonic Hall was later built on this site, which is now known as Manchester Hall.
GAEITY THEATRE OF VARIETIES opened 1878, but was destroyed by fire in 1883. Rebuilt and renamed The Comedy Theatre in 1884. It was sold to Annie Horniman in 1907, closing again in 1920. It reopened as the Gaeity Picture House in 1921 and finally closed for good in 1959.
St. James’s Hall on Oxford Street, included a theatre, ST. JAMES’S THEATRE, which opened in 1881. The theatre closed in 1907, reopening as the New Pavilion Picture Theatre in 1908. The theatre and hall were demolished in 1909, replaced by the Calico Printers Association’s head office, the St. James’ Building.
Palace Theatre opened in 1891, was renovated and reopened in 1913, and closed again in 1978 for a major overhaul, reopening three years later in 1981. The theatre remains one of the most prominent theatres in Manchester today.
We hope you have enjoyed looking back at these photographs of Manchester’s theatres. We will return to covering a new neighbourhood or theme next month. If you would like to see more images, don’t forget to check out the photograph albums on Flickr and the Manchester Local Image Collection .