Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Derby Castle Theatre, Isle of Man

Derby Castle Theatre once stood at the North end of Douglas Bay. The original buildings were 2 houses masquerading as one larger one. Originally built for Major Pollock by J. Skillicorn of Onchan probably to a design of John Robinson.

The buildings were acquired in 1877 by Douglas advocate Mr. A.N.Laughton who built a dance hall in its grounds. The dancehall, designed by W.J. Rennison was some 194 feet by 71 ft and capable of accommodating 2000 dancers. Laughton financed the project by forming the Derby Castle Company in 1878 with initially £15,000 in shares (by 1889 £20,000) subscribed to by six Douglas businessmen, including J.A. Brown of the IoM Times who was soon to start his own rival Palace complex and who ultimately became the controlling power behind the Palace and Derby Castle Company.

By the 1960's the complex was outdated and run down - it was bought by Douglas corporation in the late 1960's, demolished and the ill-fated Summerland complex built on the site. Read more

Lowry refers to theatre in his novel Ultramarine; "My missus’s tightly bound, she’s all tightly bound. Harry Weldon in 1925 singing that at the Derby Castle, Douglas, his audience bringing him back for his curtain over and over again." (Pg. 116). This reference probably relates to a Lowry family holiday made in 1923 to the island.

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