In 1911 moving pictures came to the area and the 230 seat Alexandra Cinema and its first floor
Victoria Billiard Hall was built alongside the Theatre Royal to address the demand. However, three years later,
the Theatre Royal had to purchase a screen, which could be moved to accommodate live shows, owing to the demand
for cinema theatres. It was a new era when footage of the first World War was shown. Though, generally, the news was
aimed at stirring more loyalty and winning more troops, it was only a thin disguise. It was the start of being in
touch with events worldwide.
The Theatre Royal continued to entertain the public through happy times, the depression and a second World War,
whilst giving the opportunity for the lower classes to enjoy famous stars, at affordable prices. Such stars included
Enrico Caruso and Richard Tauber and Laurel & Hardy (not recorded but who probably visited while touring Manchester)
and daring comedian Frank Randle, along with the stars of many touring companies - names unfamiliar today, names such
as Olive Kilner, a star of her time. Some of these visits are not authenticated but are classed as within living memory*.
The young Julie Andrews visited in the early fifties when her mother and stepfather appeared in concerts. She 'played'
at being a star - staff had to raise and lower the curtain as she danced across the stage - learning to be one of
Britain's greatest divas.
When the screen was in place along came all the great films of each era, when everyone wanted to visit America
and own a car. During the thirties cinemas were built to deal with this lust, in the most amazing style. A person could
enter to be flooded with sunshine by a huge lamp; or to view elephants and tigers in relief on the walls and briefly
relax in India.
During this era of change, many Victorian and Edwardian cinemas were altered beyond belief to cater for the modern
Art Deco style. Some lost all their original features; some fortunate ones had their gilded plasterwork boarded over
but the Theatre Royal was left in its original style with its original features untouched. Changes which did occur,
such as widening the aisles, were beneficial and still are today.
By the 1950s there were eight cinemas and theatre/cinemas in Hyde and crime was reduced in favour of leisure and learning,
because people did benefit from their theatres. The Theatre Royal was offering sport such as boxing and wrestling and circus
with elephants, tigers and escopologists! In fact the stage was strengthened for the elephants by the replacement of the
wooden supports by brick. A change which would, later in its history, defy fungal invasion.
In the 1960s live theatre was declining in favour of cinema, still affordable to every 'with-it' teenager, but the
amateur Operatic and Musical Societies were in their hey-day with many a well-known star cutting their teeth in their
productions. And what wonderful productions too; they could only be called professional, given its meaning of expertise
and hands-on experience.
In Hyde the Theatre Royal offered the largest stage in the area, the finest auditorium and a fly gallery offering
the means to employ the best scenery and swiftest scene changes available. It was not the only theatre to offer such
facilities but is now the ONLY one remaining in the area; such buildings as the Davenport in Stockport having been
reduced to ashes.