12 January 2018 / Events

“Quick, Clean, Smart & Bright”: The Broadhead Theatres in Manchester

Presented by Dr. Victoria Garlick

“Quick, Clean, Smart and Bright” was the motto of the Broadhead theatre circuit. Developed by William Henry Broadhead (1848-1931) and his sons William Birch (1873-1907) and Percy (1878-1955), the circuit was constructed between 1896 and 1913, and consisted of seventeen venues in the North-West of England. These included theatres, music halls, cinemas, and large-scale entertainment complexes, such as the Morecambe Winter Gardens, all of which made a significant contribution to working class amusements in both little-known and more popular areas. Since the death of Broadhead in 1931, the circuit fragmented, with none of the handful of buildings that remain today under the control of the family or functioning as theatres or cinemas. Therefore, as Broadhead and his houses disappear from community memories, part of this talk will stand as an act of reclamation in the city that formed the heart of his theatre empire. As well as providing a biographical overview of the family itself, there will be exposition into the venues found at Miles Platting, Openshaw, Hulme, Harpurhey, Longsight, Eccles and Salford, situating their locations, architecture and repertoires against the wider contexts of late Victorian and Edwardian theatre, and social entrepreneurism.

Victoria Garlick was awarded her PhD in January 2015 for her work on William Henry Broadhead and his theatre circuit. She is now working towards turning her thesis into a book whilst also participating in the nationwide project for the digitisation and layering of Henry Irving’s Faust promptbook. She is interested in long nineteenth century theatre and music hall and their links to temperance and propriety. This is her first UK-based project having previously worked on Louisa May Alcott and Sophie Treadwell. Victoria is from Manchester and works full time in the University of Manchester’s main library.


12 January 2018




Swedenborg Hall, Barter Street, London WC1A 2TH, UK