20 thoughts on “Classic Cinema, Dovecot Street

  1. Can anyone tell me what happened to the statue of a woman holding fishing nets? It was on the roof last time I saw it many years ago. It had been taken to the Green Dragon Yard Museum so when that closed where did it go would like to see it again. It was good to see it up close after looking at for so many years as a child, she stood on the roof as you can see in the photo thanks terry.


  2. My father Jack Wilkinson was an electrical fitter with Richard Pickersgill and Sons of Silver Street. He was wiring out the control room at the Hippodrome (after a fire) when I was born on 23.05.33. He told me an amusing story about an apprentice, on another occasion, being confronted by a Lion in the “gods”. Too long to relate fully here but the apprentice was reassured by the lion tamer “don’t worry the lion is as daft as a brush”. Clive Wilkinson


  3. I remember going with school (Cleveland Girls school) to see a ballet Swan Lake at the Hippodrome. Probably around 1960.


  4. One other group that were regulars at the Hippodrome was John Hanson and his troupe. They would perform ‘The Desert Song’ with John taking the lead role. Although I never saw the show, I understand that he had a good tenor singing voice


  5. I hope my memory is not failing me but I seem to remember performing here in a variety show with Tom Pettit (RSM) and the Eastbourne Boys Club. We were a gymnastics/acrobatic act maybe 10 kids in total. We also performed in the same show at Hartlepool. This would have been sometime between 1958 and 1960. Never forget singing On Mother Kelly’s Doorstep with the entire cast. I forget who was the “star” of the show. The Eastbourne Boys Club was held two nights a week in the dreadful community centre at the end of Appleton Road. Other members of the team were Alan Callender, Barry Melton, Lol Pitt, twins I forget their name, ? Lewis (Yukka), Barry ?. If Tom is still alive he should be a 100 by now. I owe him a lot.

    Two or three of the team (including Lol) went to the Moscow State Circus for a while and came back with a comedy/acrobatic act (the Seven ?) appearing on TV a few times.


    • Tony, I think the twins may have been called Mansell. Was the acrobatic team called the Seven Volantes? I think they were also on Sunday Night at the Palladium a lot of years ago.
      (I am still on the same e mail address if you would like to get in touch.)


      • The Mansells were not twins but were brothers, Albert and Brian. They both went to Frederick Nattrass and were in the school gymnastic team.


  6. My Mam (Molly) worked at The Hippodrome in the late 1960’s – I remember going there often. I also recall watching the Gang Show from the Gods! 🙂


  7. My dad always told that before the war he had an aunty who worked in the Hippodrome. If he lurked near the correct door he could nip in for nothing. A real bonus when times were hard.


  8. I was in Pantomime in the 60s with Eva Walker Dance Troupe think one of the stars was a lady called Julie Grant. Kathleen Donald nee Fish.


  9. I remember the court players very well one such actress was Pat Phoenix who went on to play Elsie Tanner in Corrie. The other was Freddie Jones who now plays Sandy in Emmerdale whom I gave lodging to for a few days. Met him in the early hours of the morning at Stockton Station where I worked, he went on to greater achievements see his career on line.


  10. I have photos of Marty Wilde with my mum Maureen Fryer and her friend Olive Packer in Pantomime at the Hippodrome ,my mum and Olive were in the chorus line. My mum had a party at our house at the end and Marty came along with Chas Mcdevvit and his wife.


  11. Lime Light at the Stockton Hippodrome 1950’s – I had been a newspaper boy – but the best part-time job I had was a “Lime Boy” at the Hippodrome (we worked the spot lights way up above the audience. Jimmy Speight got me the job – six bob a night and two free tickets. People smoked there was a bar at half time plus Eddie Calvert, Joseph Locke, Jimmy James, Bobby Thompson, The Merry Magpies. Magicians, dancers, singers, Doly Carte, Gilbert and Sullivan and Raymond Revues. Harry Hanson Players in the summer. Second house on a Saturday night was magic. We smoked Manikin cigars and dashed across to Pete’s snack bar at half time for a savoury bun. “Happy days”
    Jim Instone

    01/12/1961 my first boy scouts gang show. I took centre stage as the clown with a bucket on a pole filled with strips of silver paper which invariable ended up on the orchestra instead of the audience as I fained a slip/trip at the end of the sketch. I was also a member of a YMCA drama group in the building behind the Hippodrome but stardom eluded me but what memories.
    Mike Walker

    I remember that in the fifties (and probably earlier) there was a resident repertory company here. In the time-honoured tradition they put on a show at night while rehearsing next week’s play during the day. The vicar or St. John the Baptist church was the chaplain for the company and so we occasionally saw the actors at a Sunday service.
    Janice Swannell

    The rep company was “The Harry Hansom Players” and they put on excellent programme from such authors as Agatha Christie Graham Greene and many London shows it was also the home of Stockton Amateur Dramatic Society and the Scout “Gang-Show”.
    Robert Harbron

    …and I’ve just remembered sitting in the “gods” – the third tier of seats – and feeling quite dizzy!
    Janice Swannell

    The Harry Hanson (Court?)Players were popular and well supported. Frank Middlemass the TV actor (“To serve them all my days” etc) started his acting career in this rep. I know because even though I was only around ten or so My Mother would enthuse about his acting skills. Probably his good looks also! The players once did a courtroom drama and in earlier weeks invited members of the audience to “volunteer” for jury service. It was a non-speaking and I would imagine unpaid role but Mum and her friend Marie Hodgson both loved every minute of it. Because she was close to the lovely Frank no doubt.
    Alan Wealleans

    I remember the Harry Hanson Court Players well though not with affection. My mother and our next-door neighbour had a season ticket (was there such a thing?)and attended every new performance. As far as I can remember it was just after the war and I had to accompany them as my mother did not trust me to enough to leave me to my own devices at home. I was far too young to appreciate the efforts of the Players and remember being bored stiff. We had seats in the upper circle (not the Gods) and I can remember being hushed every time I spoke. I think I used to visit the toilets about four times per play. I can remember being very relieved when my mother finally lost patience with me and decided that I could be left at home. I believe that she hid all the matches to be on the safe side.
    Ged Hutchinson

    My parents were both actors with Harry Hansons Court Players!
    Bridget Shakespeare

    I once went to the see the Court Players with Kenny Franks he got the tickets free from his dad who owned Frank”s Taxis. A woman in front of us commented on the bravery of one actress who was “burned” with a cigarette in one scene. “Fancy having to be burned five nights a week just for a play!” she whispered loud enough for us to hear.
    Jeff Smith

    I too remember sitting in “the gods” at the Hippodrome it was the first time they showed “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” I was a little boy taken by his Mum and her friend Madge Trotter. You realy did feel as if you would fall it was so steep. Harry Hanson and The Court players were based at Harrogate but played the Hippodrome each season.
    J Norman Kidd

    I recall going to see “The Exorcist” here in the 70s. The Salavation Army were outside telling people not to go in.. needless to say that made us even more keen to see it!
    Mary Scott nee Graham

    Norman Kidd: I remember being taken to the Hippodrome to see Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs. There was great excitement for the queue that night as Roberts Fish & Chip shop across the road (diagonally) caught fire and a fire engine attended not having to come very far as the Fire Station was in West Row!! Yes we used to queue in those days.
    Robert (Bob ) Dicken

    I remember the Harry Hanson Court Players at the Hippodrome I had a seat booked on Saturday night for most of the ten seasons they performed there as was mentioned by other people on this site. Frank Middlemas was one of the main actors he was really great to watch and was the lead in most of the plays and to see him in such tv shows the likes of Heart Beat and other shows here in Australia brought back some nice memories I think I remember one of the actors was called Bowers who married one of the girls on the show and settled in Stockton after the Court players folded. Regarding Frank his brother owned the chemist shop at the corner of Garbutt Street and Norton Road at that period.
    Harry Iceton

    My mam used to work at the Hippodrome selling choc ices etc back in the 40″s when her and my dad were courting. He was a telegram boy with the post office.
    Lesley Booth

    Question – Does anyone know what happened to the statue on the top of the Hippodrome when it was eventually demolished?
    Moira Murphy nee McInnes

    I remember queuing right down Dovecot Street to see “Jaws” in 1976 or 1977. I think it was called the Classic then.
    Phil Douglas

    I was a Court Player in Bradford and Leeds and a special guest at Keighley once. The producer was Laurie Storm and a sweet and kind man was he! The year or two I spent as a Harry Hanson Court Player will always remain as a happy time for me. Learning my craft (I looked the part long before I could really play it and so got landed with much I should never have done). I remember Patricia Ridler, Mabelle George, Catherine Dolan, Patricia Kerry, Jean Kitson, Michael Blythe and Sarah and so many others. I left to join the Newcastle Rep in Jesmond and Theatre Royal in York then on to Preston Wolverhampton and Birmingham. The last 3 theatre companies were run by the 2 Salberg brothers Reginald and Derek and we always aspired to their companies as the reputation was first class throughout the rep world of the fifties and sixties. I often feel sorry for our young actors today who cannot have the kind of experience we had. Happy days.
    Pearl Catlin

    I remember going each Monday to see the court players . Saw the Ghost Train and remember Frank Middlemass but I thought he seemed to play the lead comedy roles more than “leading man”. I know that there were a lot of regulars including two women who would take food including once a large basket of fruit to the show.
    Trevor Bond

    I remember the Stockton Hippodrome. We went to see the plays variety shows and films until I moved to London in 1971. I also remember Frank Middlemass, Harry Bowers, Barbara Mitchell and many others whose names now escape me!! My mam and I often saw the actors out shopping in the town. I worked in a furniture shop at the time as a teenager and the properties master often borrowed furniture etc. for use on stage and we would get a mention in the programme. My Uncle Jim also attended plays or variety shows every week – he saw them all and had a standing booking. My Mam and I went every Monday night because the seats were cheaper on Mondays. Wonderful acting and inspired me to amateur drama which I still do 42 years later.
    Ann Doreen Davey nee Walsh

    I just occurred to me that I am sure I saw Joe Brown in panto at the Hippodrome also Chas McDevitt in another panto where they played Robin Hoods Merry Men. I hadn’t realised that the seats were cheaper on Mondays.
    Trevor Bond

    When Marty Wilde appeared on the Hippodrome he stayed in digs at Ragworth Estate with the Potts Family in Dundee Avenue.
    Len Nicholson


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