Regent Palace of Varieties

Nottingham Street,
Rotherham, S65

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Opened as the Theatre Royal on 1st January 1894, it was built on a corner plot on Howard Street & Nottingham Street and was designed by the Rotherham based architectural firm Joseph Platts & Rawmarsh. The theatre seated 2,000 and replaced a former theatre of the same name. The facade was of pressed brick and Horton stone dressings with pediments in the Renaissance style. The main entrance was on Nottingham Street and had double doors which led into the foyer. From there, staircases of solid green moor stone led to crush halls on separate landings for the different seating levels of the theatre – stalls, circle and gallery. The auditorium was of fibrous plaster with a proscenium arch of 29 feet in width and 24 foot high dominated by a plaster design representing ‘Music and Art’.

By December 1907, the Theatre Royal was operated by the MacNaghten Vaudeville Circuit. The Theatre Royal closed on 7th July 1915 for a three week summer break but did not reopen until the 6th September that year. During closure it had been converted into a cine-variety theatre. Projection equipment was installed at the rear of the stage for rear projected films and it was renamed the Royal Picture House. The theatre closed once again on 6th December 1930 for extensive alterations. A new projection suite was built at the rear of the circle with Western Electric talkie apparatus. The auditorium was redecorated and reseated and reopened as the Regent Theatre on 15th December 1930 with Helen Twelvetrees and Fred Scott in “The Grand Parade”.

The theatre reverted to live shows on 9th September 1935 when it was known as the Regent Palace Of Varieties. It remained a live house for the rest of its existence finally closing on 15th June 1957 with “Goodbye to Striptease” as its last show. The Regent Palace of Varieties was demolished later that year and the town market hall now stands on the site.

Rotherham was left without a live theatre until March 1960 when the Civic Theatre opened, converted from an 1867 Congregational Church, which remains Rotherham’s live theatre today. Both the Hippodrome Cinema and Empire Cinema (Classic/Cannon) were considered for conversion into Rotherham’s Civic Theatre but were considered at the time to be too large.

Contributed by Richard Roper (abcman)
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