The Theatre Royal - Marischal
plaque erected by Aberdeen City Council at Theatre
1795 the Theatre Royal, seating 600, was created in Marischal Street where the
Church is now. This lane runs under the building and was between the Stage and
the Auditorium. The
was conceived by
brother of the actor
John Philip Kemble.
Eminent performers included
Charles Macready and
Charles Keen. The
Theatre flourished until
when it was replaced by
Her Majesty's Opera House,
later the Tivoli, in Guild Street.
The Theatre Royal, was completed in
funded by a subscription; it was Aberdeen's 1st permanent Theatre. The
Theatre, designed by Mr Holland, cost £3000 Sterling and seated 5-600 people. In
1818 a box cost 6s, a place in the pit 4s and a place in the gallery 2s, whilst
in 1837 this was 3s for a box, 2s for the pits and 1s for the gallery. The
Theatre Royal was very popular with Aberdeen's high society until the 1830s when
it began to fall into decline. Three years after the opening of Her Majesty's
Theatre and Opera House in 1872 (Tivoli) the premises of the Theatre Royal were sold to
the Church of Scotland.
Although theatre and public
performances have a long history in Aberdeen this was the 1st permanent
Theatre in the City. Arguably public performances in Aberdeen can be traced back
to the dramatic religious performances of the pre-reformation era. From the
early 17th century James VI licensed stage plays and companies of comedians to
perform in the city. From the latter 17th and early 18th century travelling
theatre companies and theatre productions became almost unheard of in Scotland.
After some opposition a company of comedians established themselves in Edinburgh
in 1745 and a detachment in Aberdeen in 1751. The detachment were initially
denied any premises in Aberdeen itself and raised a building on the south side
of the Spital for performances. This closed after one season. In 1768 the
magistrates licensed a company under one Fisher to perform in Aberdeen, in the
New Inn. In 1773 the celebrated West Digges attempted to establish a theatre in
Aberdeen. Having been opposed he set up a successful theatre on the north side
of the Spital.
received his early education at
Westminster School, London which he left in
1740. He became an ensign in
Colonel James Long's Regiment of Foot (in January
1741) and later (in June
1744) in Colonel Richard
O'Farrell's. He left the army in
1749, and shortly after began his acting career. His first stage appearance was
Thomas Sheridan's Theatre Royal in Dublin (1749). He continued to act, although with some breaks, in Dublin until
when he moved to Edinburgh and became actor-manager of the Edinburgh
Theatre (a.k.a. the
Canongate Concert Hall). Often in debt and unpopular with his creditors, he moved around a lot
for the remainder of his life, appearing at various times in Dublin, Edinburgh,
London, Cork, Limerick, York and Liverpool. He retired from acting in
1784, after having suffered a
paralytic stroke during rehearsals for a new staging of
Venice Preserved at Dublin's
Theatre Royal - the same play and the same
theatre in which he had had his theatrical debut 35 years before.
In the wake of this success a site was selected on the newly formed Marischal
St to house a permanent theatre in Aberdeen proper. The building was
completed in 1795 at a cost of £3000 raised by subscription. Eventually the site
was purchased outright by John Fraser, a local merchant. The theatre was
effectively small to medium sized housing some 5-600 people. In the first few
decades of its existence it was particularly popular and drew in many of those
from Aberdeen's high society. The journalist W Carnie reminisced that in the
1830s 'I have seen Marischal Street half lined with the waiting carriages
of the best families of the town and county.' Its main attraction, after 1818,
was its production of Rob Roy. In 1817 the lease of the Theatre Royal had been
taken on by Corbet Ryder, who was an actor-manager. He made a reputation for
himself with his swashbuckling acting style. It has been argued that Ryder, and
his wife Jessie Pollock (who managed the Theatre after her husband's death in
1842), established Scotland's northern theatre circuit using Aberdeen as their
Samuel Johnson and his wife were with
company, based on the Aberdeen circuit.
The Drama in Perth,
thought him to be the best
of that time. He played many leading roles with Ryder’s company and was probably
the ‘Mr. Johnson’ who played at the Theatre Royal Dublin in the spring of
The Penny Rattler - Street Theatre
Albion Street, also known as the 'Bool' or Bowl Road because it
led to the bowling green. It led to the Links from the foot of Justice
Street. On the right hand side is the Mission Chapel which in 1848
replaced the "Penny Rattler", a rough Street Theatre which gave the area
a very bad reputation. No doubt so named as a result of the randomly collected
voluntary donations from the assembled public for their bawdy plays staged on a
makeshift platform between property gables by Amateur Players. The site
later became Albion Street Congregational Church. The area was cleared in
the 1940 & 50s for the development of the Beach Boulevard. It is apt that
loons played 'Bools' on the waste ground in front of Hanover Street School in
the 1940's opposite the Casino Cinema in
These compatible scene depictions may have been near the site of the later
By the 1830s and the 1840s the growing evangelical reform movement in Aberdeen
successfully challenged the notion of the Theatre as being a respectable form of
entertainment for the aspiring and established classes. At this time the
'Penny Rattler' or Bool (Bowl) Road Theatre (later Albion
Street) attracted more patrons and more criticism
for its poor taste, violence and drunkenness that attended its
Aside from these considerations Pollock's tastes were
conservative, at a time when London based shows were increasing available (via
an improving transport network) to the north. This led to a need to build a big
venue to attract these touring London shows, this led to the opening of Her
Majesty's Theatre and Opera House in Guild Street Circa 1872 (reopened as the
Tivoli in 1910 after
a refit by Frank Matcham), the Palace Theatre in Bridge Place 1898 and finally
Theatre in Rosemount 1906, His Majesty's could seat 2500. Three years after
opened the premises of the Theatre Royal were sold to the Church of Scotland.
The Lyceum or Royal Theatre John Street
Opened in 1913 in former Zion Chapel of
1841. Refurbished and renamed, 1916. Closed by 1918. Later a
hall. Now antiques warehouse.
Converted from church in 1881; Theatre from
1881 - 1910
The old Church of the Redfriars was pulled down in the 1790s and
replaced by a new one. At the end of 1793 the Town Council appointed
Reverend George Gordon to the vacant East Church of St Nicholas. Many of the
parishioners protested vigorously about both the choice of candidate and the
mode of election. When they were ignored they felt called upon to leave the
congregation and set up their own place of worship. The Church, along with a
session house and manse, was built at a total cost of £2000, raised almost
entirely through the efforts of those who had walked out of the South Church of
St Nicholas. On Sunday 27 April 1794, the church was opened for public
worship by Dr Cruden, minister of St Fittick’s Church at the
Bay of Nigg. The 1st minister of the Church was the Reverend Robert
Doig. By 1825, the weekly attendance averaged about 1200, with a
membership, which exceeded 1400, scattered in all parts of the city. The
minister at that time, the Reverend David Simpson, was highly respected and had
a tendency to take strong attitudes on certain subjects. It was said of him that
he was a ‘ringleader among the teetotallers who infest the town’. Simpson’s
sympathies lay very clearly with the Disruption in 1843, when 450
ministers of the Church of Scotland broke away to form the Free Church
of Scotland, the main contention being over the right of a wealthy patron to
appoint the Minister of his choice to a Church. After the formation of the Free
Church Mr Simpson preached his last sermon at Trinity Church on 11
June 1843, which incited the congregation to leave with him: almost all
of them did.
Ultimately the Church buildings were sold in 1881, converted
and opened as the Alhambra Music Hall, a sort of rival to the nearby Her
Majesty’s - later Tivoli theatre. Not only was the Alhambra one of several
locations in Aberdeen where the public could experience the delights of the
electro-graphic cinematograph, but it was also the winter quarters for the small
zoo opened by John Sinclair in 1906, which boasted the ‘finest collection
of lions, bears, wolves and hyenas in the North of Scotland’.
Tivoli Theatre - formerly Her Majesty's Theatre
The new Theatre and Opera House, in Guild Street, was built in
at a cost of £8400, seats 1650 spectators, and has a frontage of 75, a mean
depth of 90, and a height of 50 feet.
Although generally known as the Tivoli this theatre was opened in 1872 as
Her Majesty’s Theatre and Opera House, to the design of architects James
Matthews of Aberdeen and C B Phipps, a London based architect brought in as a
consultant. It was built at a cost of £8400 and is credited with being the first
theatre in Scotland to use concrete on any considerable scale. The
inaugural play was Lord Lytton’s ‘Lady of Lyons’. The auditorium was rebuilt in
1897 by the famous theatre architect Frank Matcham, but then
closed temporarily following the opening of the larger His Majesty’s Theatre
on Rosemount Viaduct. This theatre was extensively Reconstructed in
1909, again by Matcham, and opened in July 1910 as the Tivoli.
The Tivoli was refurbished again in 1938, but eventually fell foul of
changing tastes and the advent of TV. It became a Bingo Hall in 1966 and
by the 1990s over 500 players entered its doors daily. The impact of the
National Lottery and the beginnings of internet based Bingo with larger jackpots
brought its closure in 1997. This much loved building was then at the
centre of many calls for it to be re-opened. A grant from the Green Townscape
Heritage Initiative in 2010 has allowed works to make the building safe to
reopen to the public.
Built as Her Majesty's Theatre & Opera House in
800 seats. Renamed the Tivoli Music Hall in 1910, after a rebuild by
Frank Matcham in the mixed Gothic style, for £8400. With the stage 52 ¸ feet by 29,
and the auditorium for 1700 to 1800 persons. The front wall is of bluish granite
and red and yellow freestone, with some polished Peterhead granite pillars, the
rest being built of concrete.
Prospectus for "The Aberdeen Theatre and Opera House Company Ltd"
issued with a provisional committee consisting of 18 influential gentlemen
The capital was stated at £8000, in shares of £1.00 each, and the
site to be in
Guild Street, Aberdeen. A number of shares were also taken by
parties in London. Mr
James Matthews was appointed
consultation with Mr C.B. Phipps, FSA, London. "The want of a
Theatre and Opera House,
where the public can obtain good accommodation and which can be utilised, if
necessary, for other purposes, has been for some time universally felt. With the
view of supplying this want, a site in
extending back to
has been secured by the promoters". The new house was built at a cost of
£8400 to hold 1650 people and was opened on the evening of 19th December
"The 3 storey Venetian
Gothic looking building with its coloured voussoir stones to the arches provided
an imposing façade of bold design -
Concrete was used for the
1st time on any
significant scale in Scotland for the side and back walls" -
In January 1897, the pre-eminent theatre architect Frank Matcham
carried out "structural alterations and improvements" - This consisted of
"improvements to safety precautions and ventilation with more spacious exits
provided throughout the house".
alterations were no doubt carried out in light of
the tragic fire at the
People's Palace of Varieties
in Aberdeen in
Palace of Varieties
was built following destruction by fire in 1896 of the People’s Palace
on the same site. The interior of the new Palace, originally with two tiers and
of vigorous oriental appearance, was completely gutted to the shell walls in
1929 and rebuilt, re-opening as a cinema with one balcony in 1931.
The 4 storey asymmetrical granite façe survives largely intact, but this is a
crude design of industrial quality - plain with a pediment over the 3 central
bays and 3 large doorways with thin broken segmental pediments.
The new variety theatre in
Bridge Place, which has been built by Messrs Livermore Brothers in place of the
old People's Palace, destroyed by fire, was opened. The
proprietors have certainly spared no expense, and the result is a building,
spacious, handsome, admirably contrived, comfortably arranged, and chastely
decorated. Seating accommodation is provided for 1,800 persons, although the
generous apportionment of space will permit of a very much larger audience.
Alike in construction and equipment, the building is a model theatre. Stage
fittings, lighting, heating, and ventilating apparatus are of the most modern
type ; everything is of the best. The total cost, exclusive of site, is £15,000.
The building is designed in the
Italian Venetian style of architecture. The front elevation to Bridge
divided into a central facade, with two side wings; the façade has ornamental
fluted pilasters, and is surmounted by a massive cornice and pediment. In the
centre is the main entrance, which is ornamented with finely-dressed pilasters
of Kemnay stone running up either side, with carved truss blocks over the
capitals, and a rich pediment capped by a cornice. On either side of the main
entrance are two other large doorways. Every care, it need hardly be said, has
been taken to ensure that in the event of a panic there shall be no repetition
of the dire circumstances that attended the burning of the old building. In
addition to the doors already mentioned, there are four giving access to Crown
Terrace, and altogether there are fourteen exits from the auditorium by which
the audience could escape from any outbreak of fire. All the doors open
outwardly, and can be opened by a child.
The main entrance gives access to
the stalls, which are on the ground floor. Passing over the mosaic tiled floor
of the vestibule, the visitor ascends a short flight of marble steps, 10ft.
long, to a spacious promenade that runs round three sides of the building. In
front of this promenade, and under the balcony or grand circle, are the pit
stalls, and in the area of the hall are the reserved stalls and orchestra
stalls. The handsome lounges are upholstered in peacock plush, and the floor is
covered with a heavy velvet - pile carpet. The reserved stalls, of which there
are seven rows, occupy the back part of the area. Comfortable tip-up chairs,
upholstered in crimson velvet, are provided, and the floor is covered with
Brussels carpet. The stalls can accommodate about 200 persons.
Upstairs is the grand circle or
balcony, running round in the form of a semi-circle. The balcony is seated
for between 300 and 400, and the promenade could accommodate from 200 to 300
more. Behind the grand circle are the private boxes, nine in number, which are
furnished and decorated in the most lavish style. While they are at the rear of
the hall, and are not seen from most parts of the theatre, the boxes command an
excellent view of the stage. On the next floor is the amphitheatre,
another large gallery, capable of seating about 500, and behind it, away up
under the roof, is a limited range of accommodation for the "gods." In
addition, the four doors in Crown-Terrace open direct on the balcony and
galleries. There is also a private stair from one of the side entrances to the
In size and equipment the stage
is in keeping with the other parts of the building. It is 38ft. wide by 34ft.
deep. The scenery, which is entirely new, cost £350, and the large pile plush
curtain, in colours of flame and old gold, alone cost 120 guineas. Over all is
an asbestos curtain, which would effectually prevent an outbreak of fire in the
proscenium from spreading to the auditorium. Ample provision has been made for
the accommodation and comfort of the artists. There are six dressing-rooms at
each side of the stage, with lavatories in addition, and there are also two
staircases leading from the stage to the dressing-rooms and exits.
The ceiling is richly decorated in delicate
colours, and the upper walls have panels containing various appropriate figures
and scenes designed and executed by local and London artists. The gallery fronts
are richly encased with carton pierre enrichments in relief, and the work is
treated in tints that harmonise with the more striking embellishments of the
walls. The lower walls are hung with heavy Japanese paper, and the numerous
columns and pillars are tastefully decorated.
The theatre will be entirely lighted by
electricity. The ninety footlights on the stage are each of sixteen
candle-power, and there are also two electroliers of twenty lights each
suspended from the roof. Numerous smaller lights illumine the stairs and
corridors. Altogether, there are in the building 370 lights, with a total
candle-power of 27,000. In front of the building in Bridge-Place will be fixed
six arc lamps of 250 candlepower each, and four similar lamps will adorn the
front of Crown Terrace.
The plaster is fixed on patent steel lathing
instead of on wood lathing, and the joisting, beams, and rafters of the
galleries are all of steel. Nothing, in short, has been omitted that is likely
to conduce to the comfort and safety of visitors, and Messrs Livermore Brothers
and their energetic manager, Mr Sheldon, as well as Mr John Rust Jr., the
architect, are to be congratulated on the completion of so handsome a building.
After referring to the high character of their
entertainments, he called on the architect of the theatre Mr John Rust, City
Architect, who said that he was commissioned by Messrs Livermore Brothers to
make the place as good as it could possibly be done for money, and he hoped the
proprietors would have a good dividend out of the house night after night.
Variety entertainment, such as was provided at the Palace, was as worthy of the
patronage of all classes in the community as the ordinary theatre.
The most serious fire which has occurred
in Aberdeen for many years occurred 30th September 1896, when the
Music Hall in Bridge Place known as “The Palace of Varieties”
was burned to the ground. The fire broke out shortly after the commencement of
the evening’s performance, and in the stampede upwards of thirty people were
more or less seriously burned and injured. The music hall has a frontage to
Bridge Place of about 50 feet, the rear being to Crown Terrace;
while to the east is situated a photographer’s studio and a restaurant, the
latter forming a corner to Bridge Street, Internally, The hall was
circular in form, and was originally adapted for a circus by Mr
John Henry Cooke. Latterly, however, the building was turned into a Music
Hall by the Livermere Brothers, and performances have gone on
regularly during the season under their auspices. As a place of amusement The
Palace, as it was called, was very popular, and usually drew large
audiences. The bill for last night was described as “a special company for the
holidays.” Fortunately, the autumn holiday was observed in the city on Monday,
and on that account the “house” was smaller than it might otherwise have been.
The area was thinly filled, but the gallery and promenades were fairly well
occupied. Just after the second “turn” by O’Connor and Martrey, described
as eccentric comedians and dancers, the curtain was rung down, and preparations
were being made for the next item on the programme. Without a moment’s warning
the audience were startled by seeing a red glare through the drop scene.
The import of this was all too evident. A fire had broken out in the top
of the flies among the scenery to be used in the third act, and it is supposed
the inflammable material had come in contact with the gas jets. An
attendant at once rushed to the spot and attempted to extinguish the blaze. His
hands got badly scorched, however, and he had to desist. Then Mr Russell,
the assistant stage manager, went to the front and calmly
the people to retire. At the same moment almost, Peter McIntosh, the bill
inspector, rushed across the street to the Bath Hotel, and telephoned for
the Fire Brigade. With a rapidity that baffled all subsequent efforts,
the flames burst through the roof, and then seized on the wooden
interior. A wild rush was made by the audience for the exits. They scrambled
through the narrow passages and down the stairs leading to Bridge Place.
As indicated, it was fortunate that the house was not filled as it usually is,
otherwise the consequences would unquestionably have been very terrible. As it
was, the results were disastrous. The people tumbled over each other in their
efforts to get out. Clothes were rent, and serious personal injuries were
received, while those who escaped the crush had a worse fate in being terribly
scorched by the rapidly advancing flames. The fire spread through the building
and had attacked the whole wooden framework before the last of the audience
gained the street, and several people had to be dragged from what was soon a
fiery furnace. The artistes, about 12 in number, had barely time to
gain the passage leading to the street, and several ladies were practically in deshabilé.
They were carefully attended to by Mr Thomson in the Bath Hotel.
One of the artistes, in his anxiety to save some of his property, threw a
dress basket in the direction of the exit door, but unfortunately it
the way, and a number of people who rushed out by that particular passage
tumbled over the obstacle, and created a somewhat serious congestion. Then it
turned out that the door was locked, and it was burst open - a man having
previously got out by smashing the glass and clambering through the fanlight.
One of the audience leapt from the gallery window to the street, and sustained a
fracture of the leg. In the panic a man named Charles Cooper ran back to
rescue his wife, and she was got safely out although severely burned, her
husband in his gallant effort also being badly scorched. Both were afterwards
removed to the infirmary. A baby of 5 months was snatched from its mother’s
arms, and is missing. In the course of the conflagration the gas exploded
with a terrific noise, and the heat was so fierce that the glass of the house
windows in the vicinity was cracked. The full strength of the brigade was
present under Firemaster Inkster, but the fire practically burned itself
out. Streams of water were poured upon the burning mass both from Bridge
Place and Crown Terrace, the end of the latter thoroughfare just
overlooking the hall. A tremendous crowd congregated in the streets, but the
operations of the firemen were not hampered, Chief-Constable Wyness and a
force of policemen regulating the movements of the spectators. A detachment of
Gordon Highlanders did splendid service in the extinguishing operations,
All the injured were removed to the Infirmary.
1st October 1896
McGonnegals Poem on the Disaster at the Palace
seating 1800 over two tiers. Films introduced in
Top Rank Ballroom from 1959,
and nightclub since
His Majesty's Theatre
The 3 Bastions, Education, Salvation and
Damnation. Library, Church and Theatre.
His Majesty's Theatre
first opened its doors on 3rd December
pantomime Little Red Riding Hood. Costing £35,000 to build, it was designed by
the pre-eminent theatre architect Frank Matcham. Local tradesmen built it
entirely of Kemnay granite, making it the only theatre of its type in the world.
Together with the Public Library and St Mark's Church, these three central
landmarks of Aberdeen became known as 'Education, Salvation and Damnation'.
Following the purchase of the theatre in 1933 by James F Donald, it was closed
for a year, during which a refurbishment took place at a cost of £15,000. A
significant change was the introduction of swing seats to replace the benches in
the balcony making the capacity 1800.
A revolving stage was installed to allow a
quick change from film to theatre making the theatre the most technically
advanced in Scotland. HMT hosted stars including
Noel Coward, Vivien Leigh, Sean
Connery, Errol Flynn, Harry Lauder, Charlton Heston, Jimmy Logan, Sir Ian McKellan, Timothy West and Robbie Coltrane
to name but a few.
the building was sold to the Council
for £250,000. However, by the late 1970's new health and safety laws meant that
the theatre would have to be substantially renovated or face closure. The
Council therefore allocated £3.5 million in 1979 to ensure the survival of
Aberdeen's theatrical gem. A new counterweight fly system was installed
backstage, allowing the theatre to accommodate sophisticated West End
productions. The front of house area was restored.
The curtain at His Majesty's Theatre went down
again on Saturday 13th March
and marked the beginning of an ambitious £7.8
million redevelopment project - the results of which we see today. This project
would not have been possible without the generous contribution of our core
funders - Aberdeen City Council, The Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund and
Scottish Enterprise Grampian. We also acknowledge the generous support for the
project from companies and individuals through the HM Tomorrow fundraising
New life has been breathed into this grand
Edwardian building to help ensure HMT continues to attract a wide range of top
quality theatre productions.
The auditorium has been sympathetically
refurbished to retain its stunning Edwardian colour scheme, as befits a Grade A
listed building. Comfort levels have been improved by re-upholstering the seats
and increasing the legroom in the stalls. The stalls seats have also been offset
to improve sightlines and further enhance the comfort of our customers.
Location: Aberdeen -
His Majesty's Theatre
Date / Time: Pre
Further Comments: A
former stage hand who lost his head in an accident at the theatre prior to the
2nd World War, Jake disappeared after building work was completed in
However, when renovation work started again, contractors began to report the
sound of someone in high heels walking around empty areas of the theatre.
Gaiety Theatre or Beach Pavilion
In Aberdeen, the old
was one of the finest sea-side entertainment venues.
- as the
Laird of Inversnecky
- brought joyful hilarity with his high quality character comedy and played
when he commenced his great partnership with
in Tom Arnold’s pantomimes at the
The Beach Pavilion, originally a wooden concert hall
in use from 1882 just south of the Bathing Station was surpassed by the
later multi-purpose larger
building further north near the Broad Hill in 1928. Harry
often was the Master of Ceremonies at the Old Beach Pavilion and
eventually leased the theatre himself before its closure in 1940.
His first full time professional
engagement was with 'Monty's Pierrots' at Stonehaven in 1912
and this led to an engagement at the Beach Pavilion in Aberdeen in
1913 at a salary of £2 per week. He joined the Army at the outbreak of World
War 1 and served for three years. As soon as he was demobbed he returned to the
Beach Pavilion, purchasing it in 1924. As the owner/producer of
Harry Gordon's Entertainers Harry made the Pavilion one of the
principal dates for British Stars, and himself appeared there annually until
World War 2 closed it in 1940. He
made over 100 broadcasts from the Pavilion among them Harry's Half Hour
and Gordon Gaieties.
During this time "it was seriously stated by officials of Aberdeen Town Council
that Harry Gordon was one of the chief advertisements for Aberdeen as a holiday
beach-front Theatre often called the The Gaiety, it was a regular venue
for Sir Harry Lauder and in the early 1930's he would do several
shows in Aberdeen and also several in Glasgow. This was possible because
he had a De Havilland Puss-Moth aircraft and a pilot who flew him between
Theatre venues, and it was rumoured that the aircraft landed on the
Queens Links which saved local travelling from the nearest Dyce Aerodrome.
The de Havilland DH.80A Puss Moth
is a 3-seater high-wing Monoplane aeroplane
designed and built between 1929 and 1933.
It flew at a speed approaching 124 mph (200 km/h), making it one of the
highest-performance private aircraft of its era.
entertainment was possible with the opening of the Esplanade with the first
Beach Pavilion – a theatre building that soon become indelibly associated
with a young, home-grown entertainer. Harry Gordon was to run successful,
family-orientated shows at the Pavilion and its bigger successor, the
New Beach Pavilion, till the start of the second world war. After the war,
changing public tastes meant the Pavilion ceased to be a gaiety theatre. In
1961 it became instead the Gaiety Restaurant – and the building
continues that culinary second life today as a Jimmy Chung’s restaurant.
But a legacy of the Pavilion and Harry Gordon remains. One of his
most popular theatrical creations was the Laird of the fictional village of
Harry was friendly with
who owned a business nearby – and who changed its name to the one it bears to
this day, the Inversnecky Café.
now a restaurant, was home to
Harry Gordon's Beach Entertainers.
The Management must have welcomed inclement weather in order to fill the Matinee
stalls. Originally a white fronted portico facade with billing information
each side of the entrance and the name Pavilion mounted on the Facade.
Inversnecky Cafe on the Esplanade was conceived by Lui Vicca, an
Italian immigrant from Gaeta, close to Naples. He left there to
seek his fortune, like so many others from that area, by working building the
railroads in South America. After some time in Venezuela he caught
a ship to Canada to work on the building of the Canadian Pacific line.
Unfortunately the Ship took him to Preston in the north of England. From
there he and his wife worked their way north before finally coming to Aberdeen,
where they opened a small ice-cream shop. Lui Vicca was a great entrepreneur
who tried his hand at a number of different businesses; a zoo, a lemonade
factory, a fruit and vegetable shop and the seafront Café. Of these different
ventures only the café survives to this day. His son, Peter, took over in
1923, changed the name of the Café and set about establishing the successful
business that it is today. The Café takes it's name from a fictional character
created by local comedian 1923, a regular visitor to the Beach
Pavilion in the 1920's. A similar age to Peter Vicca, Harry Gordon
played his summer season at the 'Gaiety Theatre' south of the shop, and
the two men subsequently became firm friends.
The Inversnecky Cafe is still going strong although I have always gone to
his cousin's shop just in the next block - the Washington Cafe run by Vic Canale
to whom I have given the nickname of Papa Vincenzo.