Eden Theatre

Newgate Street,
Bishop Auckland, DL14

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Eden Theatre Bishop Auckland

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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

The Eden Theatre was the main theatre in Bishop Auckland for many years, but it did have some use as a cinema. 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 in 1964, and after a short period of use again as 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.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 13, 2008 at 3:26 pm

A photograph of the plaque, commemorating the Eden Theatre:

terry on December 14, 2008 at 7:08 pm

It actually closed (as a cinema) in 1964 and went straight to Bingo (leased to Lucky 7 by owners ,Essoldo and not operated by them). When the Essoldo converted to bingo in 1966, this was actually run by the Essoldo company who declared that they were going to return the Eden to cinema use when the lease to Lucky 7 expired. There was a notice to this effect on the Eden front of house for years, but it was never again to show a film or present a live show.

terry on December 14, 2008 at 8:54 pm

The large neon EDEN fin sign on the front of house was very distinctive and below it was another neon sign which incorporated two arrows one pointing south (“TO THE HIPP”) the other pointing north (“TO THE KINGS). Brilliant marketing there!

Buffer on November 16, 2014 at 7:45 pm

The name Eden Theatre is preserved in the Town Hall, where the Theatre/Cinema is called the Eden in memory of the earlier theatre.

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