The men and women of the area may have been humble working class people but we have also always been a cultured area. Almost as soon as the small Hamlet of Consett began to expand into the town it is today we have had a theatre, or three. The Theatre Royal was the first situated in Trafalgar street, below the Derwent Iron Company school, later to become the reading rooms and then more recently the Steel Club. It was a grand theatre having the ability to house over 1000 people. It was held in high esteem throughout the North East and boasted all the biggest travelling acts. Sir Dale, one of the Directors of the Consett Iron Company was a major player in its initial creation, determined that the workers of the town had something special.
The next was the Town Hall, later known to all as the original “Flea Pit”. A Ltd Company was formed to create the Town Hall buildings in 1882 selling 5000 x £1 shares. Within a few years the building was built. The next was the New Theatre Consett in 1896 later to become The Royal Picture House then eventually the Globe in about 1918. This was probably our most famous theatre, ran by Lloyd Clarence who’s notoriety attracted some of the biggest names in show business at the time, Laurel & Hardy, George Formby and Gracie Fields to name a few.
But as the theatre audiences began to wane and moving pictures took over the last Theatre emerged. Initially known as the Empire Palace it opened its doors to the public in 1913 but initially not being able to compete it started life as a Cinema. The Empire had a rocky start with brief closures throughout the 1940’s and 50’s as well has having a brief spell doubling up as a bingo hall in the 1960’s when it was known as The Empire Marina. However it outlasted all it forebears and is still a beacon of entertainment and culture today. The Theatre Royal closed shortly after WW1 followed closely by The Globe in the 1926. The Town Hall held out a little longer to sometime in the1960’s after it burned down.