Francis Laidler was born in 1867, in Thornaby-on-Tees. In 1902 Laidler moved to Bradford and for half a century he delivered panto after panto in his Bradford theatre, as well as venues in Leeds, Keighley and London. His last Bradford Alhambra panto in 1954 was Red Riding Hood. Sadly, just a few days after its opening Laidler passed away, just one day before his 88th birthday. His funeral took place in January, 1955 in Bradford Cathedral. In showbiz style his widow Mrs Gladys Laidler announced that the show must go on.
A plaque in memory of Francis Laidler was unveiled in 1956 by Mrs Gladys Laidler, and the Lady Mayoress of Bradford, Mrs R C Ruth. It reads ‘A tribute to the King of Pantomime, Francis Laidler, A millionaire Philanthropist who loved to make children happy‘.
The Bradford Alhambra is a theatre in Bradford, West Yorkshire. It was built for theatre impresario Francis Laidler, and opened on Wednesday 18 March 1914. In 1964 Bradford City Council bought the Alhambra. In 1974 it was designated a Grade II listed building. It seats 1456. Today, the Alhambra is a major touring venue and hosts a wide range of stage shows from ballet and opera to variety and comedy, musicals, drama and, of course, the annual pantomime. Regular visits are made from prestigious companies such as Opera North, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet Theatre and the Royal National Theatre to complement spectacular West End shows and musicals.
Details courtesy of Bob Wilson.