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Originally opened in 1865 as the Masonic Music Hall, a melodrama theatre. The original architect is unknown. It underwent alterations by architect W.V. Thompson in 1871, re-opening as a 1,000 seat theatre on 28th August 1871. It was re-named Theatre Royal in 1874.
In 1892, it was leased by Arthur Jefferson (father of comedian Stan Laurel) and he employed noted theatre architect Frank Matcham to make alterations. It re-opened as the Eden Theatre, named after a well known local family, who’s son was to become Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1955-1957, Sir Anthony Eden. The seating capacity was now for 1,550 in stalls, dress circle and balcony. The Theatre Tavern on the corner of the site was incorporated into the building when further alterations were carried out by architect F.H. Liversey in 1901, and it re-opened on 24th December 1902 with a pantomime "Cinderella".
The Eden Theatre was the main theatre in Bishop Auckland for many years, but it did have some use as a cinema. Over the years many famous artistes have appeared at the Eden Theatre, including: Charlie Chaplin. G.H. Elliot and Harry Lauder. It was taken over by the Newcastle based Essoldo group of cinemas in 1947, and they continued to operate the building mainly as a theatre, with some cinema use and for a short while as a bingo club.
The Eden Theatre was closed on 8th July 1961. It re-opened on 14th January 1962 and finally closed on 31st August 1963. It then became a bingo club until 1969. It then remained empty and unused for five years. It was demolished in 1974 for a road widening scheme. Today there is a plaque on a wall commemorating the site of the theatre.
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