Site of the former Gaiety Theatre

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

d) GAIETY THEATRE: Park Crescent Place runs northward from Park Crescent to Trinity Street. On the western side stands a block of flats known as Devonian Court, erected on the site of the Gaiety Theatre. Opening on 31 October 1876, this theatre started life as the Royal Hippodrome, the permanent home of Ginnett’s Circus with room for about 1,600 spectators; another large hall, the Grand Olympia, was erected at the rear soon afterwards. The circus proved a popular attraction, but Fred Ginnett was constantly thwarted in his attempts to obtain a dramatic licence and eventually closed the Hippodrome in 1889. (Fred Ginnett’s family tomb, adorned with the large figure of a horse, may be seen in the Woodvale Cemetery .)
The building reopened on 28 July 1890 under new management, but this time with a dramatic licence. It was renamed the Gaiety Theatre, offering initially music hall and melodrama, but again success was short lived and after several other proprietors had failed to make a success of the Gaiety it finally closed in March 1900 and was bought the following year by the Fryco Mineral Water Company. The building was demolished in 1930, but a special concrete floor which had been installed by Fryco was used as the foundation for Devonian Court. {3,236}

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Comments about this page

  • I find it fascinating that there used to be a theatre on the site of Devonian Court. I wonder if they ever filled the Royal Hippodrome to capacity or whether the Gaeity was well used by the local public? Being in a back street off the main Lewes Road must have been a gamble for the owners. My great grandparents lived in St Paul’s Street at this time, I think it’s fabulous that they probably spent an evening or two at this theatre. Has anyone got any photographs of the building?

    By Paul Clarkson (04/10/2013)
  • In the 1891 census my great grandfather William Kirby was listed as ‘properties master’ at the Gaiety Theatre. Are there any programmes from this date?

    By Jenny Carlier (23/02/2017)
  • The Keep at Falmer has a deal of theatre and cinema ephemera both in the Search Room and in the archive itself, there may be Gaiety programmes amongst their collection.

    By Geoffrey Mead (23/02/2017)
  • I have recently acquired a Victorian one pint pewter tankard – on the bottom of the tankard it is etched Gaiety Music Hall Brighton and on the front of the tankard the initials RG. Does anyone have any knowledge of its history?

    By John (24/06/2017)
  • The entry above for the Gaiety notes the owners as the Ginnetts, which may account for the initials on your tankard?

    By Geoffrey Mead (25/06/2017)

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