Continuing on our journey through Manchester theatres, in part 2 we take a look at some of the theatres which were built from 1904 onwards. Our huge theatre collection contains playbills, photographs, programmes and much more, here is a small selection which is available to view online. When Archives+ is open to visitors again in the near future, the full theatre collection will be accessible to view in the search room at Central Library by completing a booking form.

In this memory box, most of the theatres are still working theatres and I’m sure you will agree we can’t wait to get back to the theatre as soon as lockdown restrictions end. Why not start your journey by looking back through this fantastic resource. If like us, you are missing the theatre or perhaps you have never been to a show yet, 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 second half to begin.

Since the first lockdown in March 2020, Archives+ has published 23 online memory boxes covering a variety of themes and neighbourhoods in Manchester. Below you will find a collection of theatre images and sound files 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

Instagram manclib_archives

Twitter @archivesplus

Facebook @archivesplus

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.

Resources:

Unlocking Your Sound Archive have produced a blog about conducting oral history interviews with family members. The audio clips included in this online memory box have been kindly supplied by Unlocking Your Sound Archive. 

Manchester Local Image Collection

Archives+ Flickr

NSPCC Staying safe online guide for children.

Age UK Staying safe online guide for older people

Manchester Theatres built between 1904 – 2015

Manchester Hippodrome 1904-1935

Hippodrome, Oxford Street 1907 (m06511)
Hippodrome, Oxford Street 1910 (m06513)
New Pavilion and Hippodrome, Oxford Street 1910 (m06532)
Hippodrome, Oxford Street 01/03/1935 (m06516)
Hippodrome, Oxford Street 1935 (m06518). One of the last films to be screened here was Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back, starring Ronald Colman.
Gaumont Cinema, Oxford Street (west side, corner with Great Bridgewater Street) 21/05/1935 (m09214). It was built on the site of the Hippodrome, which closed its doors in March 1935. Parts of the Hippodrome were used in the construction of the Gaumont.
Gaumont Cinema and New Oxford Theatre, Oxford Street (west side, near corner with Chepstow Street), 23/10/1935 (m09216). The New Oxford Theatre was formerly known as the Oxford Picture House until 1927.
(1103/746) e01 Mrs. Dixon recalls her time working in theatre in Rochdale during the Second World War. “In Rochdale we were very lucky because we had the Theatre, we had the Hippodrome…we had all sorts, we had opera, variety, circuses, the lot, you mention it we had it.”
Courtesy of Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre

Ardwick Empire 1904-1935, renamed The New Manchester Hippodrome, 1935-1961

Ardwick Empire, corner of Hyde Road and Higher Ardwick 1928 (m06410)
Ardwick Empire, corner of Hyde Road and Higher Ardwick, 1928 (m06409)
New Manchester Hippodrome, Hyde Road, Ardwick 1958 (m27221)
New Manchester Hippodrome, Hyde Road, Ardwick 1958 (m06411)
New Manchester Hippodrome, back view from Higher Ardwick, 1959 (m06520)
New Manchester Hippodrome playbill, 17 June 1957.
New Manchester Hippodrome playbill, 19 August 1957.
New Manchester Hippodrome playbill, 16 June 1958.
New Manchester Hippodrome playbill, 21 July 1958.
New Manchester Hippodrome playbill, 28 March 1960.
(1103/753) e01 Mrs. Thaw reminisces about her time working as a barmaid at the Ardwick Green Hippodrome. She has a collection of photographs “… I’ve met some of the artists, you know, through being in the bar, because they used to come in and have a drink and stand talking…”. 
Courtesy of Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre
(1103/753) e02 Mrs. Thaw also worked there during the war and recounts the impact of the bombing.
Courtesy of Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre

For images of “Ardwick Hippodrome” programmes see this earlier blog written by one of the Archives+ volunteers.

Opera House 1912 – present day

Opera House, Quay Street 1960 (m06537)
Opera House Interior 1913 (m08487)
Opera House, Quay Street facing west 1969 (m06540)
Opera House playbill – The Mousetrap, 1952
Opera House playbill – A Day By the Sea, 1952
Opera House production – Mistress of Novices, 1968 starring Rita Tushingham as St. Bernadette Of Lourdes.
(1103/751) e01 Mr. Kerr recounts his time as an apprentice at Metro Vickers and their traditional theatre visit on Shrove Tuesday. “Armed with pea-shooters and bags of peas…these apprentices all boarded the trams…”
Courtesy of Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre
(1103/686) e01 Mr. Darlington worked in a large department store as a teenager; he talks about also working in the cloakroom of the Palace Theatre. “You always had to have an evening job running with your day job…”
Courtesy of Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre

The Library Theatre Company 1952-2010

Lecture Theatre, Central Library, c1934 (m81031) – Later became the Library Theatre.
Lecture Theatre, Central Library, c1934 (m81032) – Later became the Library Theatre.
Poster for Lunch Time War Commentaries at the Central Library Theatre, 1942. (GB127.Broadsides/F1942.1)
Library Theatre Poster for Merchant of Venice, February 1960 (GB127.TH FF 094273 MA 119)
Library Theatre, Central Library 1966 (Town Hall Photographers’ Collection – Negative no. 1966-2657)
Annals of Manchester Festival, Manchester 1973, Library Theatre Float (m07881)
Manchester Library Theatre poster for The Homecoming, no date.
Thespian Tendencies poster, Manchester Library Theatre, 22 April 1990 (GB127.M775)
Wythenshawe Forum Theatre exterior, 1972 (m51445)
Wythenshawe Forum Theatre interior, 1972 (m51443)
Promotional flyer from Talent held at the Forum Theatre Wythenshawe, 26 March – 17 April, 1982. Talent won Victoria the Evening Standard Award and the Plays and Players Award for Most Promising Playwright 1979. (Th792.094273M1)
HOME 2017 – Photograph by Caroline Coates
(1103/748) e01 Mr. Pease was a musician and variety artist. He recalls the theatres he played on the Broadhead Circuit: the Hulme Hippodrome and the Salford Hippodrome. “… the first house on a Monday night was usually packed…”
Courtesy of Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre

The Royal Exchange Theatre 1976 – present day

Royal Exchange Theatre, 1976 (m06619)
Royal Exchange Building, 1964 (Town Hall Photographers’ Collection – Negative no. 1964-1717)
The Royal Exchange interior, 1968 (m56704)
The Royal Exchange – new theatre poster, 1973 (m56712) Braham Murray, Michael Elliott and Caspar Wrede formed a new theatre company called 69 Theatre Company and set up a temporary theatre, The Tent, in the disused Royal Exchange building, 1973.
The Royal Exchange – new theatre notice, 1973 (m56713)
The Royal Exchange Theatre poster for Hamlet, starring Robert Lindsay, 1983.
The Manchester bomb, 1996. The Royal Exchange can be seen directly behind Marks and Spencer. The blast caused the dome to move and repairs took over two years to complete. The Royal Exchange Theatre reopened on 30 November 1998. (m95477)
The Royal Exchange Theatre, St. Ann’s Square, 2002
The Royal Exchange Theatre poster for The Tempest, starring Peter Postlethwaite, 2007.
The Royal Exchange Theatre, St. Ann’s Square, 2017. Photograph by Caroline Coates.
(1103/749) e01 Mr. Briggs talks about his memorabilia collection, specifically for theatre in Hulme; the Grand Junction and the Floral Hall, which would later become the Hulme Hippodrome. Mr. Briggs recalls visiting the Junction and the nearby Playhouse Theatre, both were connected by an arcade.
Courtesy of Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre

Bridgewater Hall 1996 – present day

The Bridgewater Hall, Lower Moseley Street, 2002
Great Bridgewater Street, Lower Mosley Street Bus Station, 1960 (m02001) Bridgewater Hall is situated on this site.
Great Bridgewater Street, Lower Mosley Street Bus Station, 1964 (m02005) Bridgewater Hall is situated on this site.
The Bridgewater Hall, Lower Moseley Street, 2002
The Bridgewater Hall, Lower Moseley Street, 2002
The Bridgewater Hall, Lower Moseley Street, 2002
(1103/771) e01 Mrs. Cunningham is interviewed about her political activities from the 1930s onwards. She talks about the Unity Theatre, established in 1944 in Manchester, which aimed to entertain and educate working people. Performances took place in different locations as the theatre did not have its own venue.
Courtesy of Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre

We hope you have enjoyed looking back at these photographs of Manchester’s theatres. We will return with 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 .