the Ardwick Hippodrome 1954 to 1961

In 1954 the theatre had the most amazing artistes, too numerous to mention them all, but here are a few; – Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine were on the same bill as Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson, who were top of the bill. Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson represented the UK in the Eurovision song contest in 1959 with ‘Sing Little Birdie’ and they actually got the 2nd place! so just listen and enjoy this very old Eurovision entry!!

Surprisingly Morcambe and Wise were bottom of the bill, as was Ken Dodd but then we are talking about 1954! Al Martino came over from America and performed there as did Alma Cogan. Another memorable act was Wilson, Keppel and Betty who were famous for their sand dance which I remember my father demonstrating to me. For those of you who have never seen this act, now is your chance and I wonder what reception this would get today, especially on ‘Britain’s got Talent’ !!

Finally Johnny Dankworth and his band with Cleo Laine played there. What a wonderful array of artistes in one year.


In 1955 There were Sunday concerts held there, which mainly featured Jazz Bands, amongst them Ronnie Scott, Johnny Dankworth, Chris Barber, Lonnie Donegan and George Melly, a true mix of Modern and Trad Jazz and Skiffle. Wow!! Amongst the comedians that appeared in that year who eventually gained fame were Frankie Howard, Harry Worth, Mike and Bernie Winters. What great days.

In 1956 Mel Torme took the place by storm and if you have not heard him sing  then nows your chanceanf go to youtube. . A piece of trivia about him , one of the women he married was Janette Scott, the daughter of Thora Hird but that ended quite acrimoniously!

Other Americans to tread the boards there were Beatrice Reading and The Inkspots.

Our very own Frankie Vaughan, Bruce Forsyth and Larry Grayson who was famous for his catch phrase ‘Shut that door!!’ when he hosted the Generation Game. Other famous stars to appear in 1956 were Petula Clark, Roy Castle, Don Lang, Eddie Calvert and Marian Ryan. An unusual show that was on in 1956 was put on by Paul Raymond of Raymond’s Revue Bar  Fame in London, it was a Glamorous Revue with nudes!!

In 1957 The famous Cowboy Film Star Tex Ritter appeared as a Country and Western Star. I remember seeing him in films at the Saturday Morning Film’s at my local cinema. Another American to grace the boards at the ‘Hip’ was Larry Parks who gained fame playing ‘Al Jolson’ in 2 films, it really didn’t help his career much as he didn’t appear to get much work after that. UK acts to appear in that year were Des O’Connor; David Nixon , one of the 1st British Magicians to gain fame on television; Winifred Atwell (famous pianist), Andy Stuart (‘Donald where’s your troosers’); Mikki and Griff (Folk singers), Chas McDevitt and Nancy Whiskey (Skiffle and folk group).


In 1958 there were some great acts like ‘Jonny Duncan and the Blue Grass Boys’; Marty Wilde, (one of my many teenage idols) and Terry Dene. Two other top comedians such as Dick Emery and Frank Carson and an old time music hall act which my parent’s generation loved – Old Mother Riley and Kitty O’Shea.

Unfortunately, it was obviously starting to lose its appeal for many acts, perhaps they couldn’t afford them or they didn’t pull the crowds in so Paul Raymond (of Raymond’s Revue Bar) and an interesting fact about him was that he was evacuated to Glossop in the 2nd world war and went to Glossop Grammar School and also Arthur Fox who was famous for owning The Glamour Cinema Club, which was next door to his George Street Revue bar in the late 1950’s and early 60’s.


In 1959 one of my all-time favourites was top of the bill, Cliff Richards but his backing group at that time was called the Drifters.  The American ‘Drifters’ group decided to sue over the name, so they had to change their name rather quickly. and became ‘The Shadows’. Lastly for that year the show ‘Me and my girl’ was on at the ‘Hip’ and starred Lupino Lane and his son Lauri Lupino Lane.


In 1960 the pop impresario Larry Parnes put on a pop show which had an amazing group of acts. Gene Vincent, Eddy Cochrane, Billy Fury, Joe Brown and the Bruvers and last but not least my favourite Georgie Fame. What a show that must have been. Also I forgot that in that year Emile Ford and Adam Faith, another favourite of mine,  appeared there. Its funny how the entertainment scene has changed as the years have gone by.

Sadly in April 1961 the Ardwick Hippodrome closed down to be idle for a long time before it started a revival.

Marilyn Shalks

16 Responses

  1. Very interesting article. I remember all these celebs with great fondness. Thanks Marilyn lovely to reminice

    • We were on the bill with Larry Parks and Betty Garret they were a great act took up most of the 2nd half. We were the Langford Singing Scholars we closed the first half.Sadly for Larry Parks he was accused by Mc ,arthy of being a Communist and that put an end to his career

      • I’m glad you enjoyed reading my blog, I remember reading that playing Al Jolson wasn’t good for his career but didn’t realise it was the McCarthyism time. Sadly lots of artistes suffered badly through that dreadful period of history. I love my volunteering work in the archives and get a great deal of pleasure out of my work.

  2. We were on the bill with Larry Parks and Betty Garret they were a great act took up most of the 2nd half. We were the Langford Singing Scholars we closed the first half.Sadly for Larry Parks he was accused by Mc ,arthy of being a Communist and that put an end to his career

  3. Absolutely loved reading all this on the Hipodrome I am in my 80 now a nd saw so many of these shows . Lived not far away never missed a week

    • So glad you enjoyed it, I love theatre and I love life, its great when you see names that bring back good memories, unfortunately when you speak to a lot of younger people in their 20’s and 30’s they don’t have a clue who you are referring to. Thankfully Manchester had an really good supply of theatres and clubs in the 1950’s and 60’s. My next blog is about some of the programmes from The Free Trade Hall. I hope you enjoy reading it

      • It’s so nice to find someone cataloguing the history of these wonderful old theatres. I was twice in Panto at the Ardwick Green Hippodrome. 1950/51 as a Terry Juvenile and 1951/52 as one of the Tiller Girls. Just wondering if you have any programmes from either of those two. I can’t remember now which was which, but one was Aladdin and the other was Mother Goose. The stars were Nat Jackly, Jimmy Clitheroe and Tommy Fields.

        Best wishes

        • Hi Christine

          Manchester Central Library Archives+ have the programme’s for Aladdin in December 1952 which starred Jimmy Clitheroe, Nat Jackley, David Davenport, Margaret Burton, Gloria George, Shirley Jordan & others.
          the panto for 1951 was Little Miss Muffett and starred Charlie Caroli,Joy O’Neill, Fay Lenore, Charles Jones, The Tiller Girls & others. If you go to Central Library Archives + or phone them you can request the box of programmes for that period and go and look at them but not on the same day as you request them. Let me know how you go on

          Kind regards


          I could’t find anything

    • Hi Graham

      I think Emile Ford and the Checkmates did appear there, I loved them as a mini teenager

    • Hi Irving, many thanks for your kind words, I’m glad you enjoy reading them its really appreciated

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