LEIGH LEISURE

INDEX

THEATRES

Golden Lion/Red Lion Theatre

Lord Nelson Theatre

Kings Head Theatre

Boars Head Theatre

Warhaugh’s Theatre

The Prince of Wales Theatre

The Victoria Theatre

The Assembly Rooms/Hippodrome/Sems

The Drill Hall

The Town Hall

The Theatre Royal and Peoples Music Hall

De Castros Theatre of Varieties

The Theatre Royal

The Casino Ballroom

The Casino Niterie

The Grand Theatre and Hippodrome

The New Hippodrome

Cinemas

The Sems

The Empire

The Palace

The Bedford

The Cinema

The Regal

The Hippodrome

Circus’s, Fairs and Travelling Shows

Sanger’s Zoological Equestrian and Military Hippodrome 1857

Sanger’s Grand Fete, Gala and Monster Hippodrome 1875

Sanger's Circus 1879

Sanger's Circus 1889

Sanger's Circus 1890

Ginnett's Great Circus 1863

Ginnett's Great Circus 1865

Ginnett's Great Circus 1891

Ginnett's Olympia Hippodrome and Circus 1891

Manders Grand National Mammoth Menagerie 1865

Holden’s Crystal Palace Marionette Exhibition 1866

Powell, Foottit and Clark’s Great Allied Circus 1868

Whittington’s Zoological Menagerie 1869

Cartland's Circus Building 1891

Ohrry’s Grand New Circus 1905

Ohrry’s Grand Circus 1905

Ohrry’s Grand Circus 1906

Ohrry’s Circus 1906

Fairs

Leigh Winter Fair 1861

Leigh Winter Fair 1871

Leigh Winter Fair 1878

Leigh Winter Fair 1883

Dancing Rooms

Quadrille Dancing Room

Charles Pitt’s Dancing Academy

The Volunteer Drill Hall

Co-Operative Ballroom

Clubs and Societies

Sport

Bowling

Boxing

Cricket

Jumping

Rugby

Shooting

Wrestling

Skating

-0-

 Theatre, Golden Lion/Red Lion

There was a theatre attached to the Golden Lion or Red Lion as it was later named in Windy Mill Road (Bradshawgate) on the corner of the way leading to Downs Croft in or around 1778. The inn was later moved a few yards to the west, and when the first Lord Nelson Inn was built by Mr. Wilkinson auctioneer, the licence was transferred to that inn and the Golden Lion was demolished. It will be noted that the Comedy and Farce at the theatre was presented (gratis). This was done advisedly and was common practise with strolling players who, to evade being sent to prison as rogues and vagabonds presented plays to their audience gratis, charging them only for the concert

CONCERT AND DRAMATIC PERFORMANCE
AT LEIGH IN 1778.

For a few Nights only.
At the Theatre at the Golden-Lion, in LEIGH,
On MONDAY, APRIL 13th, 1778,
WILL BE PERFORMED
A C O N C E R T OF MUSIC.
Between the Parts of the Concert there will be
presented (gratis.)
A Celebrated COMEDY, called, THE
B U S T B O D Y .
Sir George Airy by Mr. PHELPS.
Sir Francis Gripe by Mr. B I B B Y.
Sir Jealous Trafflic by Mr. JONES.
Charles by Mr. DA TIES.
Whisper by Mr. B R I 8 0 O E.
Servant by Master MARTIN,
Marplot by Mr. T I L L E R S .
Miranda by Mrs. JONES.
Isabinda by Miss BRIDGES.
Scentwell by Miss GREEN.
Patch by Mrs. M A R T I N .
To this will be added a Farce called
CROSS P U R P O S E S .
Alderman Grub by Mr: BIBBY.
Chepeau by Mr. V I L L E R S .
Robin by Mr. P H E L P S .
Consul by Mr. B R I S C O E .
Farry Bevil by Mr. D A V I E S .
Frank Bevil by Mr. PARKE.R.
George Bevil by Mr: JONES.
Mrs. Grub by Mrs. B R I D G E S .
Emily by Miss G R E E N .
Nancy by Mrs. - M A R T I N .
PIT, Is.6d. GAL.Is. to begin at Seven o'clock.
TICKETS TO BE HAD AT THE GOLDEN-LION.

-0-

The Lord Nelson Theatre

Workmen stripping a house for cleaning and decoration found a poster pasted to the wall advertising a play to be performed in 1823 at the old Lord Nelson Inn in Bradshawgate, Pennington:-

Theatre Nelson Leigh

The manager has great pleasure in announcing

to the ladies and gentlemen of Leigh

and the public in general.

That there will be produced for the first time

Saturday 23rd 1823

Mr. Gordon’s great play entitled

George Barnwell or the London Merchant Mr. Barnwell

-0-

Theatre, Kings Head

There was a theatre at the King's Head in the Market Place. A production took place on Saturday 5 October 1833 of Castle Spectre, then a favourite song by Mr. Brandon, a comic song by Mr. W. H. Roberts concluded by the Spectre Bridegroom. The stage manager was Mr. W. H. Roberts

-0-

Theatre, Boars Head

An article published in the Leigh Monthly Magazine of 1845 states that Miss Harriet Mellon the celebrated and beautiful actress, who married the rich banker Mr. Coutts, and on the decease of her first husband became Duchess of St. Albans made her first appearance on a stage along with an itinerant company in an old barn behind the Boars Head Inn Leigh.

-0-

Warhaugh's Theatre Back Salford Street April 1862

Monday - Jesse Vere or The Return of the Wanderer

Tuesday - Queen Hustiana and Rough Diamond

Wednesday - Lady of Lyons

Thursday - Sailor of France

Friday - Ingomar the Barbarian

Saturday - Volsha the Slave Queen

        Doors Open at 7: 00 p.m. performance commences at 7: 45 p.m. - Gallery 3p Pits 6p Boxes

 

The Prince of Wales Theatre

In April 1863 at a special meeting of the licencing committee, Mr. Mathew Warhaugh was granted a twelve month licence for the wooden theatre he had built in Back Salford Street, Leigh. An action in opposition had collected 400 signatures including Sunday School leaders and the clergy, this was contested as it contained many signatures of children. Mr, Warhaugh had erected a proper theatre, previously for two months he had a booth  that he used for theatrical representations, and every night it was well conducted, and well represented. He also had theatres in Bury and Longton Staffordshire. The Royal Prince of Wales theatre opened on the 9 May 1863 with a production of "Morna the Forsaken One" and "Make Your Will." with entirely new scenery. the new theatre was well decorated and provided every comfort. Mr. Warhaugh delivered an opening address. The manager was Mrs. Warhaugh and the stage manager Thomas Slater. A timber auction was advertised on the site  of the Prince of Wales in May 1874 which suggests that the theatre had deteriorated and was in a dilapidated condition.

The Victoria Theatre

In May 1875 A. C. Litchfield an actor and former manager of the Prince of Wales, applied for a license for a wooden theatre he had built on the site of the old Prince of Wales. The licence was granted and the new structure was to be called the Victoria Theatre. In October 1875 the theatre was advertised as being newly decorated with cushioned seats, hangings and shields on the wall, chandeliers and a good fire in place. The theatre must not have been a great success as by December 1879 it had been demolished and the new Conservative Club and Assembly Hall had been built on the site.The Assembly

Assembly Rooms/Hippodrome/Sems

The Conservative Club and Assembly Rooms opened its doors in 1879 on the site of the Victoria Theatre. The Assembly Rooms had been built in conjunction with the Conservative Club on its eastern side and fronting Railway Road. Its main purpose was a meeting place for the people of Leigh, a venue for light entertainment, magic lantern shows and later moving pictures, when these events took place it was advertised as the Hippodrome.. By the early years of the 1900s its original function had become obsolete and the building was taken over by a T.W. Sharrock as a cinema retaining its abbreviated name "The Sems" and opened on the 6 September 1907 and closed some 56 years later April 1963

-0-

The Drill Hall

The English Opera Co, appeared at the Drill Hall Ellesmere Street with a performance of The Bohemian Girl 16 January 1872

 At the Drill Hall Leigh Hamilton and Overends the wonderful mechanical pictures – magnificent panorama of Thanksgiving Day and London by day or night, Napoleon lying in state and the Franco Prussian War vocally illustrated by eminent artists, prices front 2/-, second 1/- and third 6p

Minstrels at the Town Hall

On the 3 December 1862 a band of musicians calling themselves the Original Christy Minstrels from London gave a performance in the Town Hall. There was a crowded gallery, a fair sprinkling of second class visitors but a beggarly account on the first class benches. The performance was below mediocrity.

-0-

The Theatre Royal & People's Music Hall

The original Theatre royal in Lord Street had stood for 40 years an old an unsightly structure, in 1877 it was owned by W. Cragg the leader of an acrobatic troupe, after only two years he realised he was better at balancing his acrobats than balancing the books. And so after being offered a booking at the Alexander Palace he left leaving the theatre in the hands of several managers.

De Castros Theatre of Varieties

After 1877 the theatre was known as De Castros Theatre of Variety and later as De Castros Theatre had seating for almost 2000 people, it was to last until 1884. The last manager being Richard Green. It was decided that the old wooden structure had outlived its usefulness, and so it was proposed that it should be demolished and a new brick theatre built on the site.

The Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal opened in Leigh 2 February 1885, the proprietor was Mr. De Castro it was designed by J.C. Prestwich and built by T. Norbury,   replacing the earlier wooden theatre which had been closed and demolished in 1884 the manager was Richard Green who was also mine host at the near bye British Volunteer Inn. The ground floor was divided into orchestra, stalls and pit, a single horseshoe circle and four boxes also at first floor level. The new theatre was not an immediate success and was closed after only a few months. Extensive alterations were made, a new entrance way was built, fresh seating installed and extensive redecoration transformed the auditorium. Live entertainment was the mainstay of the theatre and occasionally films would be shown Jonathan Dewhurst was manager in 1887 and in 1901  extensively rebuilt the theatre, installing a gallery that increased the capacity from 1,700 to 2000, added bars to sell intoxicating liquor and demolished the stage area, extending it back to Bold street by demolishing the shops situated there, he retired in 1906. Among others, the more notable leasees were Messrs' Sidney Tolfree and Harry Slingsby, and then William Woolstencroft who became leasee and manager of both the Theatre Royal and the Hippodrome. A further refurbishment by Dewhurst in 1920 saw the removal of Dewhurst's gallery and the circle enlarged  The theatre closed its doors in August 1955 when William Woolstencroft retired and the theatre was sold to Robert Brown.

The Casino Ballroom

A new lease of live was to be given to the Theatre Royal. By the beginning of 1955, Robert Brown decided that a ballroom was needed in the town, keeping the original balcony and stage, the seating was removed and the stalls levelled and a sprung maple dance floor fitted. Robert Brown's nephew was Joe Brierly who, with his wife Winnie took over management and the doors were opened on 24 August 1955 with a gala night with dancing  Johnny Prior & The Casino Ballroom Orchestra. Over the years they hosted most of the main functions in the town, all the towns factories and large businesses held their annual dance there. After ten years of management Robert Brown handed the club over to Joe and Winnie and a new era began.

The Casino Club/Niterie

Variety clubs were springing up in towns and cities all over the north west and it was not long into the 1960s that a decision was made to turn the ballroom into a members club and it was around 1964 that the Casino Niterie or Casino Club was born. Initially it did not do well as the door prices were pitched too high, but after a little adjustment, it gained momentum to become the prime venue in the town. As before Joe booked the acts and Winnie manned the reception; for a short time there was gambling tables on the balcony but reform to the gambling laws in 1967 shut  them down, then there was an interlude for strippers on Friday nights, which did not go down well with the female customers. In 1973 Joe passed away, Winnie bought the building and soldiered on with the help of a manager. Around the same time disaster struck and a fire destroyed much of the interior of the building, this gave an opportunity to refurnish and modernise the club and it was soon open again for business. Winnie retired and the Casino club closed its doors after a final party night 25 November 1982.

-0-

The Grand Theatre and Hippodrome

A new theatre was proposed for Leigh to be sited on land at the corner of Leigh Road and Windermere Road. Objections from the recently built Primitive Methodist Church on the opposite corner, forced the council to reject planning permission, but a satisfactory compromise was reached when plans were put forward to build the new theatre on the site of the old Walkers mill on the corner of The Avenue, and fronting Leigh Road. It opened in December 1908 with W. Benson as managing director, having a seating capacity of 1,892 persons.

The New Hippodrome

The theatre closed in the early months of 1939 for repairs and remodelling. and opened again on Saturday 5 August 1939. The Edwardian interior had been completely changed to give a more modern aspect, the wooden seating on the balcony had been replaced by tip up seats, and the two lock up shops on either side of the foyer had been removed to create a more spacious entrance. In 1955 William Woolstencroft the managing director for the past 48 years retired and the building closed as a theatre.

 

CINEMAS

The Sems

Built as the Assembly Hall for public meetings an entertainment in 1879 it became a venue for the new moving pictures shown by The Sovereign Picture Co. now called the Assembly Rooms 1907. By 1908 the proprietor was T. W. Sharrock and J. Frank Walker was showing his Sovereignscope Cinema “miles of live motion photos” every night at 8:00pm, Saturday at 2:30 and 8:00pm. The box office was at Messrs, Jordon’s Music Department, on Bradshawgate. For over 30 years it was managed by Percy Robinson until his death in 1962. It closed April 1963 It later became a Bingo Hall then a sports bar (Sky Bar)

The Empire

Formerly the site of the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Bradshawgate it was converted to the New Central Hall where motion pictures hosted by the World in Motion Co. were shown. The name was changed to the Empire Cinematograph 1916, from 1922 to 1927 it was part of the J. F. Emery circuit. In 1931 it was modernised and an Electrochord sound system was installed, later to be fitted with the improved B.T.H sound system. About this time the name changed to The New Empire Cinema where variety acts performed as well as showing films, it even boasted two dressing rooms under the stage. By 1934 the Snape & Ward circuit had taken over and its name shortened to The Empire Cinema. Around 1953 it was equipped to show 3D films one of the first was The House of Wax. It closed in October 1957 and Lennon’s Supermarket was built on the site in 1960

 The Palace

The New Electra Palace with Robert Alderton as manager with frontage on Railway Road on the corner of Back Salford Street October 27th 1913 Ownership changed to the Associated Provincial Picture Houses in 1920 and was known as the Palace Cinema from around 1922. It then became part of the Gaumont Provincial Cinematograph Theatre chain February 1929 which became the Rank Organization. It closed its doors on the 1st June 1957 then in 1961 it was taken over by Newlands Motors, it was also used as a funeral parlour (Sankey’s) in the mid 60s, and finally a supermarket (B&M Bargains). It now stands empty and derelict.

 The Bedford

Leigh Bedford Picturedrome was built with 650 seats, J. W Unsworth was given a temporary license under the Cinematograph Act, and a music license on the 2 January 1914 for 14 days until the next licensing session when it was granted a full license. It was owned by W.T. Kelly from 1939. It closed it’s doors in 1958 and was taken over by County Motors in 1959.

The Cinema

 The Grand Cinema was built as a picture house on the corner of Leigh Road and Windermere Road and opened October 28th 1914 and managed by William Knowles in 1924 and lasted until the late 1950s or early 60s

The Regal

The Regal Cinema was built by associated British Cinemas in 1938 fronting on King Street and down Spinning Jenny Street, and it opened it’s doors on the 25th June of that year. The name changed to the ABC in 1962 until it closed on the 4th January 1969 when it was converted to a Bingo club, this venue lasted for a further 20 years. It closed it’s doors for the last time circa 1990. It stood derelict for several years and was demolished in the mid 1990s.

The Hippodrome

As one door closes another one opens the New Hippodrome Theatre was taken over by J. Arthur Rank and opened  in 1955 as the New Hippodrome Cinema, in 1967 its name changed to the Classic, then in 1989 a two screen Cannon cinema. Interest in cinemas waned and this venture closed to be replaced with a Lazerquest arena in 1991, this lasted three years after which the property lay dormant. Several projects were proposed to open the building but none came to fruition. In 1998 the property was opened as the Hippodrome pub, then as the Cube nightspot. Closed for many years and vandalised, it was purchased by the Wetherspoon Group who opened the ground floor section after extensive rebuilding and decorating. It was renamed the Thomas Burke after the famous Leigh opera singer.

-0-

Circus's Fairs and Traveling Shows

Sanger's Unequaled Zoological Equestrian & Military Hippodrome 1859

Sanger's Unequaled Zoological Equestrian & Military Hippodrome  - consisting of horses, ponies, dromedaries, lions, leopards, educated bears, llamas, jackals, gigantic ostriches and other zoological curiosities, too many to mention - will visit Leigh on Thursday 25 August 1859 for 1 day only. The company of male and female equestrians, artistes and stars of the profession whose names in all the great cities they have appeared have created a furore of delight. They are selected from the principal American, Parisian, British and Grand Continental Cirques, their names will vouch for their for their respective merits and acts as a passport to the inhabitants of every town they have had the honour of performing in. In addition to which will be found African lion tamers, lady trainers of the menage, numbering in the whole upward of 300, who are engaged expressly for the summer campaign of this Mammoth Establishment combining as it does three exhibitions in one.The whole of the artists will appear in the Magnificent Procession which will parade this town at 1:00 pm precisely. Four of the greatest clowns of the day:- Mr. Griffiths, Mr. Anderton, Mr. Footit and Mr. G Knight. These merry sons of Momus will appear in an entirely new style of Jesters, both as regards dressings, sayings and doings; whose several appearances in the great arena will convulse the audience with laughter, not in the antique style of low vulgarities, but with genuine wit and ebullitions of mirth - They will in the words of the poet "Kill care - make the beholder laugh, grow fat and deceive the doctor"

Notwithstanding the enormous expense attending this Monster Entertainment the price of admission will be as follows Reserved Seats 3/- First Class 2/- Second Class 1/- Third Class 6p.

-0-

Sanger's Unequaled Zoological Equestrian & Military Hippodrome1875

Sangers Unequaled Zoological Equestrian & Military Hippodrome arrived in Leigh in 1875. A grand procession of 170 horses, camels, ponies and elephants through the principal streets of the town. At Bucks Farm Pennington see flat and hurdle racing, Roman chariot racing, steeple chasing by ladies, grand race between camels elephants and dromedaries. Grand walking match by men of colour and a foot race by men of colour led by the American Deerfoot. Grand Eastern Spectacle by ladies and gents on horseback. The Paris Quadrille danced by 8 magnificent horses. Grand Balloon Ascent by Captain Youens and Professor Dr. June. Great tribe of war Arabs, contortionists, acrobats, wire ascentionists. Six great clowns including John Austin, W. Garrat, H. Wrestler and Little Sandy, The Ponderous Steam Musical Chariot specially built in Italy the first instrument of it's kind ever seen in this country producing sound, music and harmony equal to 300 performers, classical and popular music throughout the day. Grand Military Band and a display of fireworks - Carriages admitted to the ground 5/- single horse, 10/- two horses and 1/- each occupant, servants free. In case of inclement weather large marquees for 20,000 people.

From the time the procession parade started until the fireworks at dusk there was a persistent downpour of rain which spoiled the whole affair. The ground was soon reduced to the condition of a ploughed field. In consequence of the weather the balloon accent did not take place, and the visitors to the field were few in comparison with what there would have been if the weather had been fine.

-0-

Sanger's Circus 1889

Sanger’s Circus visited Leigh on the 17th October 1889, in the early afternoon a procession paraded through the main streets, which were thronged with people. A number of elephants and camels formed part of the procession in addition to a USA mail coach and several symbolic carriages. Performances were given in the afternoon and evening.

-0-

 Sanger's Circus 1890

Sanger's Circus arrived at Leigh on Monday the 6th July 1890, there was a grand procession during the dinner hour, elephants, camels, horses, llamas, vans and a cage containing lions through the chief streets, a performance was given during the afternoon and evening. At the latter performance there was a very good attendance and the entertainment was excellent. The chariot racing, bare back horse riding, the feats on the horizontal bar and trapeze, the tightrope bear and the "Blondin" pony were all very good. One of the best features was the so called slide for life by a Japanese man named Ya-rah-rah who displayed the art of balancing to perfection. The herd of elephants was also excellent, and the various military evolutions that they executed shoed what fine training the animals had received.

Ginnett's Great Circus 1863

 
 Ginnett's Great Circus will present Tom King in Leigh on Wednesday 1 July 1863 - Another grand International fight - Tom King champion of England and Heenan for £1000 a side - Two grand exhibitions daily at half past 2 and half past 7, doors open half an hour previously - the magnificent procession half past 12
 
-0-
 
Ginnett's Great Circus 1865

Ginnett's Great Circus once again arrived in Leigh in June 1865 boasting 200 men and horses with the Star Riders of the World, together with Tom King who beat Jem Mace, and J. C. Hennan who contended with Tom Sayer, will visit the following towns and give two performances at 2: 30 and 7: 30. Mold Saturday 27th, Tranmere Monday 29th, New Brighton Tuesday 30th, Prescott Wednesday 31st, Ashton le Willows Thursday June 1st and Leigh on Friday 2nd June.

-0-

 Ginnetts Olympia Hippodrome and Circus 1891

Ginnetts Olympia Hippodrome and Circus visited Leigh on the 16th June 1891. An imposing procession took place around dinner time and attracted a great amount of interest, especially the midget pony, the fine blooded horses, the stilt walker and the balloon shaped policeman. In the afternoon and evening in addition to the usual athletic performances there was a stag hunt with a real pack of hounds, a real stagecoach and an amusing water novelty were both introduced and were very well received. On Saturday two performances were also given at Tyldesley.

-0-

Manders Grand National Mammoth Menagerie 1866

Manders Grand National Mammoth Menagerie exhibited at Leigh on Tuesday 10th April 1866. It is without doubt the largest, most complete, in all its ramifications now traveling in her majesties domain - its proprietor treats all rivals with the same indifference that a war horse treats a gad fly. - The Great Bonassus the horned monarch of the Carpathian Mountains - The Mysterious Yaxtruss the only one in Europe - The Peerless String of Zebras - The Infant Porcupine (born in the menagerie a case of lusus naturae never occurred previously in any other establishment in the world) The Imperial Performing Lions, Tigers and Brobdignagian Elephants captured, subdued and trained by Martini Maccomo the hero of a 1000 combats who was presented with a gold medal at Liverpool February last.Splendid groups of Leopards, African Ostriches and Emu's, the Royal Liverpool Lion Cubs, Great Camels and Dromedaries with 500 other living species. The Elephant Steeplechase two elephants take chase over 5 bar gates. In the illuminated and picturesque corridors of the Great Mandernethica will be found a Magnificent Brass Band led by Alexander D. Millar. Wigan April 11th and 12th, Leyland April 13th, Preston April 14th to 16th, Kirkham April 17th enroute for Scotland. Admission 1/- children under 10 years 6p. As in other shows the keepers will not pass a tin around for gratuities, any employees seeking gratuities will be dismissed.

-0-

Holden's Crystal Palace Marionette Exhibition 1866

Holden's Crystal Palace Marionette Exhibition - On a scale of splendour with a first class string band in a building to be erected near the Market Place which will be warmed with good fires. Performances will commence on the 15 December 1866 for one week, with a change of performance each evening.

-0-

Powell, Footit & Clark's Great Allied Circus 1868

Powell, Foottit & Clark's Great Allied Circus (first visit to the town) will visit Leigh on June 8th 1868 for one day only. Mammoth Establishment with 50 trained horses and 12 of the smallest horses in the world. A Performing Hippopotamus, Some of the greatest curiosities ever witnessed and Chang the Chinese Giant also Two Nondescript from the Royal Amphitheatre High Holborn London - Reserved seats 3/-, Boxes 2/-, Promenade 1/-, Gallery seated 6p.

-0-

Whittingston's Zoological Menagerie 1869

Whittingston's Zoological Menagerie visited Leigh on the 6th May 1869 and took up its position in the market place. It consisted of twelve caravans containing birds, beasts and reptiles. The menagerie was not well patronised.

-0-
 

Cartland’s Circus Building 1891

On the 19th October 1891 Cartland’s Circus Building opened in Leigh; it was spacious, handsome and permanent. Appearing were Akros with his Wonderful performance in mid air, Miss Bolane bare backed equestrian, Midget Mite and his pony “Whyaldwind”

Mdlle. Carlotta the arial queen, Wilkes surnamed The Air Walker, Leatus the Musical Momus, Little Bob Kellin the acrobatic clown, Toney the grotesque, Mdlle Vera with two performing horses, St. Clair and the Eiffel Tower, Mdlle Amelia the dashing equestrian, Mons. Cyril fancy trick horse rider, Alfranoa Alzo continental horizontal bar and flying ring performer, Funny Tom Hale and his performing monkeys, W. Lloyd the English jockey, Comical Cartland the Prince of Wales clown, Maud de Vere troupe of performing dogs, Mons. Clotto the surprising juggler, Sheriff and his performing royal elephant.

General manager J. Pearce Butler, sole proprietor and director Mr. James Cartland – Brakes and buses ran nightly. Reserved stalls 2/-, Boxes (carpeted) 1/6p, pits and promenade 1/-, ordinary pit 6p, gallery 4p, half price for children to all parts except the gallery.

-0-

Ohrry's Grand New Circus 1905

Ohrry's Grand New Circus visited Windermere Road, Leigh August and September 1905 with horses, ponies, mules, donkey's and ten clowns the funniest men on earth. Front stalls 2/-, back chairs 1/6, side seats 1/-, pit and circle 6p and gallery 3p

-0-

Ohrry's Grand Circus 1905

Ohrry’s Grand Circus January 1905 at Windermere Road, featuring the great and only Franz Joseph champion wrestler of Austria, in connection with Tom Cannon who will meet all comers. Hinton and Wooton a football match on bicycles, 20 other star artists, the greatest show ever seen in Leigh

Ohrry's Grand Circus 1906

 Ohrry’s Grand Circus January 1906 at Windermere Road. Starring Karnoc the great handcuff king and jail breaker, after being securely locked and bolted in Paisley Prison affected his escape in 40 minutes as certified by the chief constable.

Ohrry's Circus 1906

 Ohrry’s Circus a semi-temporary construction of wooden boards with a corrugated roof was demolished 17 April 1906 the building materials were offered for sale by auction

-0-

Leigh Winter Fair 1861

Take a trip down the years and experience the Winter Fair of 1861, imagine the cattle, horses and other livestock herded from the surrounding farms, town, and villages penned, and auctioned on the market place. Let your imagination wander, around the stalls and bazaars selling gingerbread and other sweetmeats, see the travelling theatre, the tumblers and performing animals. But beware of the pickpockets, mendicants, card sharps and other villain looking for the gullible and intemperate fool :-

Despite the adverse weather and the decline in the silk trade, this years Winter Fair was well attended. On the Saturday the show of cattle was good, with the best breeds bringing high prices. The exhibition of horses was of the usual meagre description, and those who fancied a nag with plenty of bone and very little flesh could have their wishes felt to the fullest extent. The fair attracted a large number of "country cousins" and juveniles on Saturday night, but not much had been provided for their entertainment. A few roundabouts, swing boats and aerial machines were well patronised, and the proprietors of rifle shooting galleries did a tolerable good trade. Innumerable stalls for the sale of nuts, oranges, gingerbread's and other commodities had been erected near the Market Place, and one or two bazaars of shabby appearance carried on a pretty good trade to the children.The Boars Head yard was occupied by a booth for theatrical performances, and for lovers of legitimate drama it was an experience they were unlikely to forget.The exterior of the building presented a miserable appearance, and the same with the interior, that was fitted in a style that had to be seen to be appreciated. The enacted pieces consisted of melodrama and farces, the former being of a startling character and the latter provoking no end of laughter amongst the motley crew present. Amongst the performers were noticed several stars who exerted  themselves to show they deserved the appellation. On Monday there was an importation of performing monkeys, a learned pony and an Irish giant and they were witnessed by an immense number of people. Fiddlers, banjo players, ballad singers and crippled mendicants mustard in great force, and a few "prigs" from Manchester and Liverpool also attended. Two pickpockets were secured "while practising their profession" and they have since been committed to prison for three months each, with the addition of a little hard labour. Some men having set up gaming tables have also been sent to Kirkdale for the good of their health, but beyond these  it is believed others were "dropped on." It was pleasing that the fair passed off in a peaceable manner, and there was less drunkenness than had been noted in many years past

Leigh Winter Fair 1871

Leigh Winter Fair arrive in December 1871 and the attractions were numerous and varied . Among the attractions were a marionette show from New York which was well patronised, and amongst the curiosities was the Northumberland giantess said to weigh upward of 200 stone, and in contrast with this specimen of feminine monstrosity were Mr. & Mrs. Tommy Dodd who claimed to be the smallest couple living. there was also a double man or half man half skeleton. these were supplemented by the usual amusements, steam horses, swing boats etc.and these together with the pea saloons, one of which was an "original" from Chowbent were extensively patronised. The behaviour of the public had been better than previous years with only one pickpocket and a handful of drunks recorded.

Leigh Winter Fair 1878

Considering the state of trade the fair did a considerable amount of business especially on Saturday night. The amusements were of the usual steam horse and fly boat variety. The stalls of rubbishy fruit were in abundance, a there were a fair smattering of penny gaffs present. The horrors of the Bulgarian Atrocities could be seen for 1p, and for a similar sum one could see of the Fat Lady, theHottentot or the Giant Boy. The man fire eater astonished visitors by making bullets in his mouth with molten lead, then wiping his mouth with a red hot bar of iron. The champions versed in the art of self defense did not appear this year. It was surprising that the police did not stop the sale of what is known as Ladies Teasers or the Shahs Scent as to come into contact with this is most unpleasant.

-0-

Leigh Winter fair 1883

 The annual fair was once again accompanied by the usual rainy element, which almost without intermission continued to fall in copious showers. Monday particularly was noted for this and the crowded thoroughfares were conspicuous by their absence. The vendors of nuts, snaps and other edibles found the water dripping through on to the articles in a most unpleasant manner and they had to “shut up,” the prize package man whose only covering for his many covered wares was the “vast canopy of heaven” had long before been “washed out.” Electric batteries dare not resist the forces of water and consequently vanished, while other dealers of the “show” with a few exceptions, had taken up their abode to some sheltered nook, from the fierce and angry storm. Despite all this however, there were some who cared not for the wind and the rain, but endeavoured by the few pence at their disposal to cheer up the drooping spirits of the showmen, who to say the least had not met with the treatment he anticipated. The fair remained open on Tuesday evening, and the weather being fine a number of country folk availed themselves of the opportunity to visit the show. The pubs as usual reaped the benefit with a few of the confectioners of the town.

-0-

Dancing Rooms

A Quadrille Dancing Room is to be opened on Wednesday September 23rd 1863 in Bold Street, Leigh from 7 pm to 11 pm and every following Saturday and Monday. A number of new dances will be introduced with Thomas Hatton conductor.

Mr. Charles Pitt has pleasure in announcing to young ladies and gentlemen of Leigh and its vicinity that he will commence the Dancing Academy at Mrs. Griffiths  on Thursday 19th October 1865  at 6 pm. (Note. This event was at Mrs. Griffiths seminary for young ladies which she had opened in September 1865.)

A Drill Hall for the 55th Leigh Rifle Volunteers was opened on Wednesday 30 January 1867 in Ellesmere Street, and celebrated by a grand concert, the hall had been built by public subscription and social events and was to be used as a venue for dances, concerts and other social events as well as by the Volunteers.

Co-Operative Ballroom - dances were held at this large function room over the new Bradshawgate Store, it was later also used as a venue for wrestling matches and performances by pop groups

 -0-

Clubs and Societies

Although clubs and societies had existed in Leigh and district for many years they were mainly frequented by the middle classes, but the late Victorian era saw many social and working reforms, giving way to more leisure time which created an explosion of all kinds of clubs and societies

Courts Hotel debating club Richard Warburton president vice chairman William Glynn -1908-

Croft Cycling Club Est. 1908-1909-

Croft Homing Society -1907--

Glazebury Cricket Club B. H. Hartley president -1909-

Green Lane Ends Bowling Club -1909-

Leigh Bohemian Club (classical music) 1908

Leigh Catholic Bowling Club E. Lees president -1909-

Leigh Clarion Cycling Club -1909-

Leigh Hockey Club -1909-

Leigh Fanciers Society Est. 1909-

Leigh Literary Society -1906-

Leigh Literary & Drama Society 1907

Leigh Picnic & Floral Club -1908-1909-

Westleigh Wesleyan's Cycling Club 1907

Leigh Tyldesley & Atherton Canine Society 1907

Royal Oak Inn Angling Society -1908-

St. Andrews Mission Cycling Club Plank Lane Rec. J. M. Williams Est.1909-

Wigan Road YMFC 1907

Leigh Sport

Public Bowling Green 1871
Illegal Prize Fight 1872
Leigh Albion Cricket Club
Bedford Foundry Cricket Club
Leigh Cricket Club 1870
Lady Cricketers 1890
Jumping Match Leigh Harriers 1907
Leigh RFC the Early Years 1878-1894
Football Match Behind The Three Crowns
Wigan Supporters at Leigh
Pigeon Shooting Swan Inn
Shooting Match Railway Inn
Wrestling Match at Leigh Bridge Ground 1906
Success of Leigh Skaters 1891
Leigh Skaters leave For The Fens
 
 
Bowling

In 1871 a new public bowling green was opened the Bedford and Leigh New Bowling Green. It was located to the rear of Lancashire's Silk Mill

-0-

Boxing

Platt Fold was the scene of an illegal prize fight in May 1872. When the police arrived the crowd that had assembled quickly dispersed and the pugilists, James Finnerty and Thomas Monaghan were apprehended. Appearing in court they each were ordered to pay sureties, one of £10 and two of £5

-0-

Cricket

Leigh Albion Cricket Club

Leigh Albion Cricket Club celebrated its first anniversary at Mr. Foxcroft's White Horse Hotel, Leigh 27 October 1862. Nearly 60 members sat down to a feast and some members of the Longsight Club (Manchester) were also present. Mr. Melvin Chadwick was called to the chair through the unavoidable absence of Captain Jee through a serious indisposition, with Mr. Smith occupying the Vice Chair. Loyal toasts were drunk, and the past season satisfactorily reviewed.

-0-

Bedford Foundry Cricket Club

Bedford Foundry Cricket Club a ball is to be held at the Drill Hall, Brewery Lane, Bedford. The St. Thomas band has been engaged. The master of ceremonies will be R. Crinnan

-0-

Leigh Cricket Club

Leigh Cricket Club - A Grand Amateur Athletic Festival to be held on the Agricultural Show Ground near the Leigh/Bedford Station Saturday September 3rd 1870.events include running for several distances, flat, hurdle, sack race, wheelbarrow race, throwing a cricket ball, bicycle races and putting the shot - A band will be in attendance

Athletic Festival hosted by Leigh Cricket Club was held in August 1875 on a field at Bucks Farm near Leigh Bridge. Flat hurdle, sack and other races, high and pole vault, throwing cricket ball etc.

-0-

Lady Cricketers 1890

Two teams of lady cricketers played a match at Down Croft, Pennington on the 26th July. The game was played (not burlesque) by twenty two graceful and accomplished young ladies. The first professional eleven all really good players were trained by W, Mathews, Charles Billet and qualified assistants under the personal supervision of G. G. Hearne, Maurice Read and other leading players. Cricket commenced at two o’clock in the afternoon, the ladies later gave a Grand Athletic Tournament in the Theatre Royal which commenced at eight o’clock.

 -0-

Jumping

A jumping match was held on the 3rd November 1907 at Leigh Harriers consisting of three stand spring jumps for £5 each between Smith novice and Ashton novice. The former went on first, and the latter at his second attempt cut Smith’s mark by 6” and won by this length

-0-

 Rugby

Leigh R.F.C the Early Years 1878-1894

So far as can be ascertained the history of the club goes back to around 1878 but was played long before that and clubs existed in Westleigh, Lowton and Firs. In 1878 a movement was started in Leigh, this was inspired by J. Tunicliffe, C. Bailey and Captain Fowler and W. Wright. L.F.C was formed on a ground called Bucks Farm Field, which was later occupied around 1880 by Leigh Shamrocks. The first match was played on the 5th October 1878 and to spur the players on to great deeds the Local Volunteer Band attended and played. Fred Ulph was the captain and early players were J. Tunicliffe full back, W. James and J. Boydell three quarter backs, W. Sumner and T. Mather half backs, F, Ulph, T.W. Travers, A Dean and T. Collier, G. Black and J. Smith, T Molyneux, T. Mansley and Pemberton forwards. As it became more popular in town fresh players joined and in the following year a new ground was taken behind the Three Crowns Inn, Bedford and the team was strengthened by T. Galvin and J. E. Horrocks a couple of clean half backs, also Robert Budworth all well known on the running paths. New fixtures were added which included the neighbouring Tyldesley Club and this became a local Derby. At the same time an opposition club connected to the Albion foundry was formed which absorbed most of the older Leigh players leaving Leigh under a cloud. However the first Secretary W. Wright was succeeded by the energetic A. Warren and an amalgamation was formed with the Albion section and a club was finally established that was able to take out a strong 15. Chief names at this time were W. Hilton, James Jackson, James Boydell, T. Galvin, J. E. Horrocks, J. Taylor, John Boydell, J. Rigby, W. Tyson, A Jackson, Josh Jackson, J. Quinn, C.T. Ackers, Robert Belshaw a fast three quarter and Tom Smith who turned out to be one of the best men who played, and figured with distinction in every position on the field. In the 1885-86 season there was not a single defeat in 23 games, the most successful season the club had ever had, the Secretary then being F. K. Prescott. True the club was not in the first rank, but several good teams were encountered. That season was always looked back on with great satisfaction and that team fielded John Hurst full back, James Boydell, R. Belshaw and S. Pendlebury three quarter back, T. Galvin and A. Jackson half backs; J Fisher, J. Higgins, A Tickle, W. Lonsdale, W. Ackers and T. Smith forwards. P. Taylor who played in every county match for three years commenced playing in that season, and in the following year became a regular first teamer. The success obtained came from the clever footwork of the forwards and most of the tries were from the front rankers, Lonsdale heading the list with 9 to his credit, Smith and Pendlebury 6 each. John Battersby succeeded Prescott as Secretary, and so well had Jack Hurst shaped up he was mopped up by Swinton after returning to Leigh as a prolific try-getter. The club moved along splendidly and after a fairly good experience in 1886-87, did remarkably well in the following season only losing four out of thirty two games against much superior class of clubs, and besides the old ones fresh fixtures were on the cards against Lancaster, Millam, Tottinton, Bury, Askham, Aspull, Swinton and Crompton. It was during this season that valuable recruits came in Tom Coop and Doc. Worthington, the latter an extremely clever and very tricky three quarter. In 1887-88 J. Roberts from Aspull came to Leigh and played for two seasons. In 1888-89 with Hurst and Worthington in three quarter Leigh again did well, losing but a couple of matches but beating the Maoris, Tom Smith was the captain. Leigh at that time was one of the most powerful clubs in Lancashire, but crack teams such as Swinton, Salford, Manchester, Oldham etc. never figured on the card. After being 10 years on the Three Crowns ground the club opened on their new pitch in Mather Lane September 1889. In 1893-1894 Leigh was second to St. Helens in the Lancashire Second Competition and beating Barrow they forced themselves into the 1st Division and became one of the leading clubs in the County.

-0-

Grand football match behind the Three Crowns Bedford - Leigh v Newton (Leigh Football Club). Kick-off 2:30pm admission to the field 2p ladies and members free.

-0-

 A large wagonette laden with Wigan Supporters came to Leigh on the Saturday with banners bearing the legend “We Have Never Been Beaten” the inscription was not visible when they left Leigh. “How the mighty have fallen.”

 -0-

Shooting

 A pigeon shooting match took place at the Swan Inn Newton Common between Mr. C. H. Williams of Leigh and Mr. Thomas Shovelton of the Railway Inn Westleigh for £10 a side. The conditions were 1 oz of shot 20 yard rise 60 yard fall. The contest created great interest and a large assembly. The match resulted in favour of Williams who’s shooting throughout was up to the mark. Williams shot 10 out of 11 and Shovelton 9 out of 11

-0-

A shooting match was held at the Railway Inn, Westleigh on the 3rd February 1880 between Richard Battersby (Dicky Doctor) and an amateur from Ince. Out of 7 birds the Ince man killed 6 and the “Doctor” only one

-0-

Wrestling

A large attendance was attracted to the Leigh Bridge Grounds 2 November 1906 where a wrestling match was held between William Hampson of Leigh and George Baylis Novice of Westleigh Mill for a stake of £30. The men wrestled at a weight of 5 score 18 lbs, Hampson was the favourite, and after 4 minutes vigorous wrestling gained the first throw. Hampson again gained the final throw in 5 minutes.

-0-

Skating

Success of Leigh Skaters

On The 16th January 1891at Hollingsworth Lake before 1500 spectators F. Edwards (alias Lump) of Leigh and C. Rowlands of Leigh his brother, won the first and second prizes in a five mile skating handicap. Lump beat his brother by 200 yards, but if the latter had not fallen the race would have been closer. W. Reyland was third, there were sixteen entries.

-0-

Leigh Skaters Leave For The Fens

On Wednesday the 26th January 1909 Joseph Bates the Leigh and ex British professional ice skating champion and Harry Collier the Leigh amateur champion left for the Fens to take part in championship races. Thursday was the one mile race for the Duddlestone Cup and the Nation Scahey Assee badge. Friday weather permitting was the professional contest fort the Littleport Cup, and the race for the Amateur Championship of Great Britain was to take place Saturday and the professional championship race would be decided. With the exception of the Littleport Cup the contests would take place at Lingay Fell near Cambridge.

-0-