Grand Theatre


Thomas Lightfoot acquired the Aquarium/baths site at a public auction in 1878 and employed W.J.Rennison to design a hotel, theatre and entertainment complex. The theatre was to seat 1100 and opened 3rd July 1882.

Lightfoot changed architects mid build and used Mr Baxendale of Leeds to supervise from first floor to roof level..

In 1888 the Local Government (Theatres) Act required better fire precautions and Lightfoot redesigned the theatre using Ernest Long (from Nottingham) - in effect a demolition of the original theatre except for the Victoria street facade, the new theatre being built at right angles to Victoria Street. Yet again Lightfoot changed architect and brought in the young Frank Matcham (who later designed the Gaiety) to complete the work - the theatre opened in August 1888.

The cost was high - Lightfoot formed, in April 1891 a family owned company , the Douglas Grand Buildings Syndicate Ltd which just seven months later sold out to the Douglas Grand Hotel , Theatre and Baths Company. In 1899 Alfred Hemings, the lessee of the theatre bought out the theatre and in 1900 rebuilt the theatre to a design of Huon Matear of Liverpool. In 1918 it was bought by Fred Buxton but on his death passed to the Derby Castle Co who again modified it in 1935.



J Brown Brown's Directory 1881

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

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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001