Gaiety Theatre

Gaiety Theatre

Opened 16th July 1900 with 'The Telephone Girl',
a Frank Matcham designed theatre skillfully fitted into the space occupied by the Pavilion Musical Hall (opened 1895 and a 'disaster' both architecturally and financially).

The Gaiety was owned by the Palace and Derby Castle Ltd (chairman J.A. Brown of the Isle of Man Times).


Interior + stage c.1905 (taken from Mates Guide)

Interior Gaiety Theatre c.1905

Matcham had at the start of his career in 1888 designed the Grand Theatre in Douglas but by 1900 had become the best known of Victorian/Edwardian theatre designers (including, among many, the London Coliseum and on a smaller scale the gem that is the Buxton Opera House).

Interior of Gaiety c.1920
Interior in 1920

Designed to attract the thousands of visitors that came to Douglas during the heyday of the Island summer visiting season, it imported whole casts and productions - however post WW1 tastes changed and cinema projectors were installed though not to any great success. It struggled on through the 1960's but by the 1970's plans were afoot to demolish it (a fate that overtook much of Victorian Douglas). However it was saved and over the last decade lovingly restored. Unlike many Matcham theatres which eventually landed up as Bingo Halls (or worse) the Gaiety retained most of its late Victorian stage machinery (including the now restored Corsican trap) and thus is a near unique survival.


Ian Faulds Gaiety Theatre The Manxman #6 pp18/29 Autumn 1976

Peter Kelly Creating the Gaiety & the Grand Manx Life Nov/Dec 1977 pp21/2

Roy McMillan A Full Circle 100 Years of the Gaiety Theatre and Opera House Douglas: Keith Uren 2000 (ISBN 0-9538628-0-1)


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefullyreceived The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2000