Theatre Royal

Trotter Street,
Blyth, NE24

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Located in Blyth, Northumberland, on the corner of Trotter Street and Jefferson Street, which no long exist today due to re-development. The Theatre Royal was built for Arthur Jefferson, the father of actor/film star Stan Laurel, who worked at the Theatre Royal before going to America in 1908. The Theatre Royal was opened on 5th February 1900 with a production of the play “The Geisha”. It was designed by architectural firm Hope & Maxwell of North Shields, with decorative plasterwork supplied by A.R. Dean & Co. of Birmingham. Originally seating was provided for 2,000 in orchestra, dress circle and upper circle levels, with boxes beside the proscenium. The stage was 30 feet deep and there were eight dressing rooms. It was equipped with a Bioscope box from the very beginning, and films were shown as part of the variety programmes.

It was leased to the Newcastle based Black family as a cinema from March 1914 as there was a lack of variety artists who could appear on stage due to World War I. Films became the main part of the programming and the Black family operated the Theatre Royal as a cinema until 1931, when it was purchased by Sol Sheckman, who was beginning to build up his Essoldo circuit. The Theatre Royal was equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system.

Occasional live shows and Christmas pantomimes were staged while it was a cinema, but Essoldo closed the Theatre Royal as a cinema on 28th February 1959. It was used as a bingo club in the 1960’s and also for a few years for occasional amateur stage productions, before it became derelict. It was demolished in February 1983, with the sad occasion recorded on film. A car park and public toilet now occupy the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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