The Midland Hotel Theatre

The Midland Hotel is one of Manchester’s iconic buildings which was built by the Midland Railway Company and opened its doors in 1903.


So when I found some programmes for the Midland Hotel Theatre in Manchester Central Library Archives+;  it was with great surprise to discover that there had been a theatre inside the Midland Hotel, it was so ornate and beautiful but it was only in existence for 11 years, how sad!!

It was on the Mosely Street and the Windmill Street side of the hotel.


In 1905 they put the ‘Follies’ on at the theatre,  Norman A Blume starred in it, he later went on to star in Zeigfields Follies of 1916 starring the wonderful famous ‘Fanny Brice’and he later went on to produce and direct shows.

An interesting article at the bottom of the page in one programme dated 1907 states ‘Egg proof curtains to be lowered at least once during the performance for the protection of the artists’.  I’m not sure whether this was because they were worried that the artists were so bad!!

Another famous person who appeared there was Annie Horniman who ran a repertory group there but sadly she was asked to leave the theatre as it was considered unseemly for a woman to be seen smoking. She left there and founded the Gaiety Theatre.  She was the grand-daughter of John Horniman, founder of the Horniman Tea Company who was a devout Quaker! Another interesting fact!!

Below is a lovely picture of her on the cover of a paperback book  which definitely is a good read for all theatre fans and enthusiasts.

Annie Horniman: A Pioneer in the Theatre Paperback  written by Sheila Gooddie

Marilyn Shalks

8 Responses

  1. The Concert Hall/Theatre in the Midland Hotel was on the Lower Moseley Street side of the hotel but I don’t believe it stretched as far back as Windmill Street. It was built as a requirement hotel’s of the planning permission to replace the Manchester Gentlemen’s Concert Hall which had been on part of the site. It was built for use as a concert hall then later used as a theatre as the Gentlemen’s Concert Society had moved ‘temporarily’ to Belle Vue but liked it there so they never moved back. If you look along the external wall on the Lower Moseley Street side of the hotel you will see busts of famous theatrical people instead of the usual hotel windows.

    • Hi Peter
      I’vedone the programme collection for the Gentlemen’s Concert Hall at Central Library but there only a very few and all I know about it is ‘This was I discovered a very small Concert Hall was demolished to enable the Midland Hotel to be built in its place in 1898. They had recitals there in 1885. In 1893 The Independent Theatre Society put on a play there.’ I would write a blog about it but don’t have any more information, some one who works at Central Library Music Department told me that Chopin played there. so I would love to learn more about it if you know anything

    • thanks Peter for your comments, I was told it stretched back to Windmill St , it is such an iconic building, did you know when the Midland Railway put in their planning application for it they never put down the name of the architect which I found very unusual as nearly all the planning applications of that era had the name of the architect on it Regards Marilyn

      • Marilyn – I’m pretty sure it didn’t, but maybe the backstage area went further. Although theatre is my background I’ve not researched them much (although I was a friend of Gordon Buxton who last owned the Theatre Royal) but I have been researching the gentlemen’s clubs of Manchester and came across the Gentlemen’s Concert Society that way.

      • hi Peter, I cataloged the programmes from the Gentlemans Concert Hall, but there were only a very few programmes, so unfortunatly there isn’t a geat deal I can write on it The only things I know were that Mozart was supposed to have played there (not sure if this is true) and that there were recitals there in 1885 and that In 1893 The Independent Theatre Society put on a play there but nothing else sadly, maybe you have more info that could help me

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