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Venue Type & Location

Exhibition Hall

Site Name: Colosseum
Location: Liverpool
County: Lancashire
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location


  • Address: Paradise Street, backing on to Manesty’s Lane (site of a former Unitarian Chapel.) For a current map, Click Here.

  • Alternate Names: Royal Colosseum Theatre and Music Hall, ‘the Colly’ (colloquial)

  • Performance Space Description: Information about this venue has not yet been compiled; however, some sense of the performance space may be gleaned by following the links at right. In particular:

  • See the 'Bibliographic Sources' link for a provisional list of venue-relevant resources (both primary and secondary). Wherever possible (i.e. when the pertinent text is relatively short and/or easily condensed) this material has been transcribed, and appears beneath the appropriate bibliographic citation.

  • See the 'Events at venue' link for a listing of blackface/minstrelsy-related events that took place in this performance space (with attached bibliographic references).

    Beth Marquis

  • Troupes at Colosseum

    Troupe Troupe Type # of events
    Sable Harmonists Minstrel 2

    Events at Colosseum

    Event Date Venue Location Troupe
    Variety 18 October 1852 - 23 October 1852 Liverpool, Lancashire Sable Harmonists
    Variety 6 December 1852 - 11 December 1852 Liverpool, Lancashire Sable Harmonists

    Bibliographic Sources

    • Broadbent, R.J. Annals of the Liverpool Stage. Liverpool: Edward Howell, 1908.


      ”[…] In 1849 the Unitarians migrated from Paradise Street
      to a handsome edifice in the Gothic style of architecture in
      Hope Street. Paradise Street Chapel was put up for sale and
      bought privately on behalf of Mr. Joseph Heath, who, about
      1850, opened the building as the Royal Colosseum Theatre
      and Music Hall. It is only fair to mention that the Unitarians
      did not know for what purpose their former chapel had
      been bought. When Mr. Heath first opened the theatre the
      pews of the chapel were requisitioned for seating accommodation.
      The dramatic entertainments which Mr. Heath
      gave his patrons, the youthful and ancient mariners from the
      Wapping and other contiguous docks, were of a full-flavoured
      description, while the variety performances, which were given
      in that portion of the building fronting Paradise Street,!
      were well suited to the taste of those for whom he successfully
      catered through a number of years.

      When Mr. Heath first opened the 'Colly,' as it was familiarly called
      the audience, in order to enter the theatre, had to
      pass through the graveyard which partly encircled the building.
      Amongst a number of youthful frequenters of the 'Colly'
      the belief gained ground that some 'spirit doom'd for a certain
      term to walk the night' haunted the vicinity of the theatre.
      Be this as it may, there is no doubt that prior to the removal
      of the remains for reinterment elsewhere, 'Props' of the theatre
      was never at his wit's end for a skull for Hamlet. Indeed
      the actor could help himself, for when in the dressing-room
      (which had previously been used as a grave vault), he had, it
      is said, only to put his hand through a thin division wall to
      lay hold, even as Hamlet did, of the grisly relic itself. My
      friend, the late James Carr, told me he remembered that on
      one occasion when Eugene Aram was played at the 'Colly,'
      a real skeleton from the adjoining graveyard was requisitioned
      to do duty for the bones of Aram's victim! […]” (258-9).