5 thoughts on “The Theatre Royal

  1. The large central ‘walk-thru’window at 1st flr. level, seems to have an expansive balcony projecting out over the glazed-canopy structure to the main-entrance. I wonder what purpose this balcony served?. The large windows probably served the reception area to the upper auditorium, or ‘circle’ (usually the expensive seats) where patrons could gather prior to taking their seats, or in the interval for refreshments. Many theatres actually operated these areas as a bona-fide tea-rooms/café. Maybe the balcony therefore provided a facility for the ‘toffs’ to enjoy a little fresh air and an elevated view up and down Yarm Lane during a promenade ‘on the terrace’?


    • I’d no sooner sent my previous comment, than I realised that what I’d previously thought were architectural ‘ribbed-stone’ details to either side of the balcony, were in actual fact (‘on zoom’) wooden ladders secured to the brickwork facade. The balcony was probably therefore a later addition, to be used as an emergency-escape platform in the event of a fire, by deploying these ladders to the pavement areas..

      This facility would no doubt be as a result of the enquiry following the tragic fire of 1887 at the Theatre Royal in Exeter, which resulted in the deaths of over 180 people and serious injury to scores of others. Fire safety in new public-buildings was thereafter much improved as a direct consequence, and existing older buildings (such as Stockton’s own Theatre Royal above) attempted to provide other alternative fire-escape routes where possible. A national UK appeal for the families of the Exeter victims resulted in over £21k being raised by donations, that’s today’s equivalent of over £500k.!


  2. I think I am correct in saying that the Theatre Royal was succeeded by the Maison dancehall on the same site many years after. Can anyone confirm this? Presumably the Theatre would be opposite the Garrick Hotel. Both the Maison and the Garrick figured strongly in my misspent youth. I spent a small fortune in both of them.
    Allan Wealleans

    I believe the Theatre Royal was situated on the exact site of JOCKERS pub in Yarm Lane.Hope someone can confirm this.
    Alan Curry

    I’m pretty certain you’re right there Alan. By the way, why is that pub known as “Jockers”?

    ‘Jockers’ was the nickname of The Theatre public house and was named after a previous landlord named Jocky Brown. The back room was also called the ‘boys room’ and in the late sixties early seventies we would all meet there then catch the United bus up to the “Kirk” (Kirklevington Country Club).
    Graham Wright

    Ah, thanks Graham! I’ve always wondered that. That must have been a very long time ago then… Jocky Brown? One of my dads favourite pubs was Jockers.

    Yes, I remember the Jockers well. l know lots of people who drank in the back room (boys room) in the early 70s and my brother hung out with a lad who lived there, his dad was the gaffer. That was the late 60s his name was Paul and had polio, but can’t think of the surname…
    Christine Midgley

    From what I have been told the theatre burned down in 1906. My great grandfather was for many years the leasee. It was rebuilt and called The Maison de Danse.
    Stephanie Rebello

    My grandmother (age 98) recalls dancing at the “maison de danse” in the early 1930s. She says there was never any trouble drunkenness etc and that everyone looked so smart – how different from today! Does anyone know of the band that played there at the time as she couldn’t remember the name.
    Michael George

    It was Jack Marwood’s band that played at the Maison.
    Geoffrey Eggett

    Yes, I as a young man drank William Youngers ale in the back room of Jocker Browns . The back room was also called the Domino room. My mates then were Barry Carr, Dennis Walton and B Dunne. Saturday night at the Maison de dance and pass out back to Jockers, happy days. Two other lads got in the same room Ron Butler and Brian Martinez what a pair those two were!
    Brian Codd

    I’ve been checking the 1899 Stockton map and it seems the Theatre was opposite the Garrick (West Row) and the hotel is situated where the said pub still stands in Yarm Lane/Yarm Street.
    Martin Spires

    It was nice to see a photo of the old theatre royal as the only info I have of it is in an old funeral notice of my great grandfather Mr R.C. Robinson who’s uncle Mr John Hodgson leased it sometime around the 1850 -1900.
    David Vasey

    Harry Houdini played at the Royal for a week in 1905. The dates were February 20-25. I assume from the comments that I’ve read that Harry was one of the last performers at the Royal since there was a fire in 1906 and it appears that the Royal was no more.
    Ron Cartlidge

    I Quote from Heavisides condensed History of Stockton-on-Tees. “Unfortunately on Aug 26th 1906 after A Life Story had been played the Theatre was burnt down and after a short lapse of time was partly rebuilt in the form of a Skating Rink and this hobby having gone out of fashion at the present time is mainly used for military purposes”. The book is dated 1917.
    The Theatre Royal opened on 6th Aug 1866 and David Vasey’s relative was the seventh lessee of the theatre. So at a guess would make his tenure circa 1890.
    Ian Devereux


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