The Ardwick Hippodrome

I was surprised to see that it was originally called the Ardwick Empire and was built in 1904, it was a music hall with a good variety of acts. In 1935 its name was changed to the Ardwick Hippodrome when Sir Oswald Stoll took it over. It has been a real nostalgia trip for me to be able to see these stars names in the programmes and imagine them performing.



The programmes are so interesting for the number of novelty acts they had and also the very many famous people who appeared there. In 1928 Gracie Fields was on the bill  and below you can hear her sing one of her most famous songs ‘wish me luck as I wave you goodbye !!

In 1934 Dinah Sheridan, the famous actress starred as Peter Pan in Panto when she was only 14 years old.


In the 1930’s its array of stars were so numerous, it was amazing to discover that Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli who later became world famous as jazz musicians, Hughie Green, Lupino Lane, Max Wall, Noel Purcell,  comedian ‘cheerful’Charlie Chester, Larry Adler and our own Coronation Street star, Betty Driver all appeared there. Betty as most people know went on to become as ‘Betty Turpin’, famous for her hotpots in the Rover’s return.In the programme in 1938 it says ‘A cute and clever kiddie in an irresistibly attractive act’!



In the 1940’s again another array of stars in the making include, Dickie Henderson Jnr, Joan Turner (singer and comedienne), Albert Modley, ‘Monsewer’ Eddie Grey, Bill Waddington ( he later appeared in Coronation Street as Percy Sugden and another bit of trivia about him was that in real life he was married to ‘The Chuckle Brothers’ sister!), Billy Cotton and his band (Wakey! Wakey!), Tommy Trinder, Nat Jackley, Jimmy Edwards, George Formby, George Robey and Arthur Worsley (the ventriloquist)  and in the early 1950’s more future stars appeared, the most fascinating one was Julie Andrews who appeared as a singer in 1951 when she was just 16, how amazing is that!!


when I was a child I always remember listening to Wakey! Wakey! on the radio. to the opening song of the show as shown below and now you can listen to it as well



Others were Joe Gladwin who later became the voice of the Hovis bread ad and a star in ‘Last of the Summer Wine’;

Bela Lugisti appeared in ‘Dracula’, a part he had played in the movie; Webster Booth and Anne Zeigler; The Ray Ellington Quartet, Benny Hill, Jimmy Wheeler, Alfred Marks, Dorothy Squires. I am so excited at the prospect of find more famous people from my parents’ era and my childhood.


In my next blog I will continue with these amazing programmes and blast some interesting names of stars before you, so I hope I can entice you to keep reading my blogs to learn more interesting facts.

I hope this blog has revived some very happy memories for you all







Marilyn Shalks

11 Responses

  1. Hi.
    As a child, I was taken to the Finsbury Park Empire,which was also part of Moss group. When I was old enough, I went myself. Although I never kept the programmes, I have bought many since on EBay. I saw Laurel & Hardy, Max Miller and most of the turns of the day. Looking at your programme, I remember seeing the long forgotten Mitchell Torok there.

    • Not quite sure what you mean, I’ve no proper training just senior moments, if you explain what you want to know I’ll tell you. My son in law helped me set up the web page. Many thanks for your comments

  2. My dad worked as assistant stage manager at the ardwick hippodrome in the laye40’s early 50’s his name was Thomas Harrison. He also went by the first name of Reg. Anyone remember him?

    • Hi Paul, I never actually went there , why not ask on facebook on any showbiz groups, there is loads of Manchester groups as well. If you have no luck let me know and I will see what I can find out for you

    • Hi Paul, As I child in the 1950’s we always went to the Panto at the Hippodrome. I have very fond memories of the theatre. I wondered if by any chance you had any photographs of the interior?
      All the best
      Martin Mitchell

      • Hi, If you go to Central Library and request to see the programmes for the years you are interested, they can get them out for you to see but I think you have o give them notice. The Manchester Hippodrome closed in 1935, do you mean the Ardwick Hippodrome. They also have the programmes for there as well
        Kind regards


  3. I seem to remember going to a variety show there on VE Day after going into Manchester mind plays tricks sometimes lillian

    • Hi Lillian, it’s highly possible that there was a show on then. I have’nt come across a programme or playbill for that but I did come across a playbill for a show just dated 1945 with no date on it. Sadly Central Library haven’t got all the programmes or playbills for every show that went on at all the theatres so sadly I can’t tell you about the show on VE Day. their collection of playbills do not start until 1955. It really must have been something to see. If you remember anything more about the show I would love to hear from you again
      Kind regards


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