Building record MDR15011 - The Art Theatre, New Mills

Type and Period (3)

  • (Built, Early 20th Century to Unknown - 1911 AD)
  • (Built, Early 20th Century to Unknown - 1921 AD)
  • (Altered, Early 20th Century to Unknown - 1921 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Main entrance faced out onto Jodrell Street, where the building was a single storey, oddly shaped building with simple wooden benches and a small stage. The theatre opened on Saturday June 24th 1911, with entertainment arranged for the opening afternoon including two films, 'Into the Jaws of Death' and 'The Cleaning of Scroggins House' plus songs by Little Ivy Francis, Miss Hilda Newsome, Miss Marie Francis and Mr Matt Ray. The New Mills Operatic and Dramatic Society was formed in 1922 and put on shows regularly each year, mostly musicals, such as The Gondoliers, Iolanthe, and The Yeoman of the Guard. The Society produced two shows a year until the outbreak of the Second World War, which brought all this to an end. “Live” shows returned to the stage in 1948 when the “Amateurs” obtained a temporary licence to perform. Plays were produced to begin with as finances would not support as full scale musical. However, two plays per year were staged successfully and were usually in a light-hearted vein. On March 21st 1959, the Sheffield Theatre Cinema Company closed the doors of the Art Theatre. On September 26th 1959 the Art Theatre re-opened. The Society had taken a two year tenancy, worked solidly seven days a week for ten weeks, then opened the theatre once again to entertain. The main problem, as always, was finance but thanks to the regular hard workers and individual fund raising efforts, in April 1961 the Art Theatre was leased for a further two years. Fund raising schemes were launched, but the job of running a theatre almost became too much, and a unanimous decision was taken to end the lease on June 24th 1964. (1) The current building on site is not the first theatre to occupy the site. In June 1911 the first theatre to occupy the site, The New Mills Hippodrome, opened on a part of the site. This was a modest affair, designed by a local architect: It had a flat auditorium with bench seats, no flying stage and only a modest interior. In November 1920 the theatre was purchased by new owners, Walters and Law. They employed an architect who specialised in theatre design, Albert Winstanley, to design a new theatre. The Hippodrome closed in April 1921 and the construction of the new theatre started in June 1921. The replacement was far grander than the original. Part of the site was excavated to accommodate a tiered auditorium. The new theatre, which opened in August 1821 as the New Mills Art Picture Playhouse, boasted many features in addition to a tiered auditorium. It had a foyer and entrance on two levels, a flying tower, a balcony, a presidium arch, am orchestra pit and first floor boxes. The public areas were richly decorated, with painted metal tiles, looking like plasterwork, a marble fireplace and wallpaper. It was not a totally new building, as it retained some earlier frabric of the original theatre, including some of the windows, although these had been bricked-up. As the name suggests it showed films at times when no live stage productions were running. However, the introduction of television seems to have resulted in the end of professional productions. (2)

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <1> Unpublished document: The Art Theatre, New Mills.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Wilmore, D. 2016. The New Mills Art Theatre: A Conservation Statement.



Grid reference Centred SJ 9991 8510 (44m by 29m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR5099

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External Links (0)

Record last edited

Sep 3 2020 2:36PM

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