Grand Theatre

30 Churchgate,
Bolton, BL1 1HL

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The New Grand Cirque of Varieties was located on Churchgate at the corner of Paley Street. The Theatre Royal of 1888 (architect Frank Matcham) was just a few doors further down Churchgate. The New Grand Cirque of Varieties was opened on 29th August 1894 presenting James Newsome & his Circus Company and the show ran for eaight weeks. Designed by noted theatre architect Frank Matcham for J.E. Elliston & the Bolton Theatre and Entertainments Co. who also operated the Theatre Royal as a drama theatre. It had 3,200 seats. It was a traditional proscenium theatre, but the circus ring was located where a stage would have been and the ring extended into what would have been the front orchestra stalls. By August 1895 it had been re-named Grand Theatre and became a variety theatre, with a conventional stage replacing the circus ring. In November 1896 films were being shown as part of the varity programme and in January 1898 the Veriscope Company presented films.

Around 1936 films were presented (probably on weeks when there were no variety acts booked) and the Grand Theatre was listed in the 1937 Kine Year Book (but no sound system was given). After 1940 film shows ceased and it became a full time variety theatre again. Pantomimes were also produced at Christmas.

In 1960 the Grand Theatre was closed and it was converted into a cabaret dinner theatre and re-named Continental Theatre, opening on 1st December 1960. This was not a great success, and within a few months it had closed and the building became the Grand Bingo Club. This too proved to be unsuccessful and it was closed in February 1963 and the Grand Theatre was demolished in September 1963.

An office building named Churchgate House now stands on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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