Gaiety Theatre

From Historical Hastings

The Gaiety Theatre, Hastings was situated on Queen's Road, opposite the Town Hall and next to the Post Office, and was designed by Cross and Wells, of Hastings, and the well known Theatre Architect C.J. Phipps, the building being commissioned by George Gaze. The Theatre opened on the 1st of August 1882 and at the time was the only Theatre operating in the Town. The Gaiety had an auditorium with three tiers and a capacity of some 1600 people. In addition to the theatre, the ​building​ housed a bar/restaurant on the ground floor occupying the corner of the ​building​. On the Albert Road facing, there were three shops; one of which was a cafe known for its 'hot joints' - later becoming the first Divito's cafe, with a further two shops facing onto Queen's Road. The Queen's Road entrance to the theatre provided access to the Stalls, Dress Circle and Upper Circle, with the stage door on Albert Road. Wide staircases leading up from the central vestibule originally led up to the theatre, providing (with the assistance of a secondary set of stairs from the gallery and Upper Circle) a claimed time to clear the theatre when full of less than three minutes.[1].

The theatre became a cinema in 1932[2] after being taken over by Kinema Playhouses Ltd and an extensive series of alterations, ultimately changing the seating arrangements to provide 1100 seats by means of removal of the boxes, gallery and upper circle. In addition, the foyer was extended to provide under-cover accommodation for 800 people waiting for a film to start[3], with the dressing rooms that were located in the basement later becoming storage for Arcade Fisheries - many of the flyers that had been pasted on the walls surviving. This foyer later housed an amusement arcade during the 1980s.


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