Photo: RON HUNT
Item #: 34860
On the morning of the 21st April 1956, after the previous night's second house performance of a revue called “We Never Clothed” had finished and everyone had gone home, a fire, which was first spotted by a policeman at 1.30am, badly damaged the auditorium of the Hippodrome, although the stage and dressing rooms escaped without a blemish.
Mrs Shelia Smith, manageress of Wigan Entertainments, (the company owning the Theatre) tells how, the morning after the fire, she stood on the stage of the Theatre, which was set for the opening number of the revue to be performed that evening. When the safety curtain and front of house tabs were raised she was faced with the sight of a sagging dress-circle and a badly damaged roof. She left the Theatre heartbroken.
Thanks to Arthur Lloyd.co.uk for the information
What a sad story.....the "revue" sounds rather saucy but I'm sure it was all very innocent compared with what was shown in later years in other theatres. I remember the first play I ever saw at WLT....it was a musical called "Bluebirds Over" and it was set in the cellars of Wigan Hippodrome during an air-raid. A friend of mine was a reporter on The Wigan Observer in his younger years, and he recalls interviewing Hylda Baker at The Midland Hotel in Manchester in the 1960s. He told me that she opened the door and said, " So you're from Wigan, are you?.....The Hippodrome would have closed without me!". He said his abiding memories of Hylda were her corsets flung haphazardly over the back of a chair, and her tired eyes behind the false lashes.
My abiding memory is going to see the pantomime Dick Whittington and on another occasion I can only remember a scantily clad woman dancing with a fan alongside other acts forgotten by now.
I think change came in the mid fifties with the Teddy Boy era with Bill Haley and his Comets rocking round the clock not forgetting Elvis the Pelvis. Variety shows seemed tame with the advent of television afterwards. Over time the Picture Houses followed suit. It was a treat though going to the Hippodrome now and again.
Veronica see links below. Which production would it have been?
It would have been the coloured poster Ron. Although you say it’s 1956 then change it to 1951 and I was only little when I went seeing it. I would be about 5 going on 6yrs old. I can remember scrambling up the steps we were up in the gods. It was the first time I had been to a pantomime. Very exciting at the time. I also remember it because I dropped an ice cream over the balcony.
Veronica, what are you like?!! You drop an ice-cream over the balcony of The Hippodrome and fall off a stool in a pub in Scholes with your glass of Cherry B! You're not fit to be let out, wench! Lol! xxx
Hang on a minute ! …am I understanding this correctly ?
Ice cream dropped over balconies? … yeds fast in railings ? … I hesitate to contemplate the scale of devastation and human misery that may well have been inflicted on an innocent and unsuspecting public had you been let loose with a ball of string say , or a couple of elastic bands Veebs .
Little wonder your dad imposed a 2200 curfew.
Blimey ! I’m surprised Wigan Casino didn’t burn down years before it did , what with you being a regular there an’ all .
Veronica the coloured poster just says MONDAY DEC 31st. It could be 1951 or 1956 In both of these years December 31st fell on a Monday..
It must have been 1951 then Ron because I wouldn’t have dropped my ice cream over the balcony when I was 10 I would have got a clout . Everything happened when I was 5 Ozy with my head stuck in’t railings down the Douglas. I can explain about the stool Irene and the Cherry B it was a rickety leg - the stool I mean not my leg….I must say I was accident prone though. I was never away from the Infirmary with a broken arm and stitches in my knee…I could go on…..