The Palace Theatre, Manchester 1891 to 1900

1 manchesrer palace theatre.docx

It opened with a flourish on June 8th 1891 with a ballet called ‘Cleopatra’  in addition was a Variety Show, which was true to the name give to the theatre ‘The Palace of Varieties’. The well known Salford architect Alfred Derbyshire designed it  but in 1896 the talented theatre architect Frank Matcham was commissioned to put in a pass door so that the manager did not have to go outside in the rain and snow to reach the backstage, as well as other minor alterations.


The theatre didn’t really appear to put on anything other than variety shows.  In 1895 Lockhart’s Troupe of Performing Elephants’ were on the stage,  I wonder how they kept them in check or how the stage would stand their weight.   It really must have been a sight to behold.

lockhart_s troupe of performing elephants_

In 1896 the theatre put on a pantomime called ‘Blue Beard Junior’ which starred ‘Little Tich’ and J J Dallas.

In 1897 the Graceful Gertrella , the world famous trapeze artiste tripped the  boards in the theatre.

graceful gertrella

The celebrated music hall singer and comedian Gus Elen appeared at the Palace Theatre in 1898

At the turn of the century in 1900 saw Vesta Victoria,  the famous singer and comedian who’s repertoire included ‘Daddy wouldn’t buy me a bow-wow and ‘Waiting at the Church’. Another great act in that year was Fred Karno, who I really didn’t realise was an actually person who had his own comedy company; plus the fact that he spotted the young talents of Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Will Hay, Sandy Powell and Fred Emney.  In the same year Hadj Lessik who was famous for his gun juggling act also appeared the theatre.

The advent of the start of the movie business enabled the theatre to put on news movies on the Gibbons Bio-Tableaux’s showing films of ‘The War of the Golden Stool‘and ‘Queen Victoria’s visit to Ireland’.

queen victoria

Marilyn Shalks

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