Monday, 3 August 2015

Douglas and The Gaiety Theatre

Douglas - not very nice

Douglas was our least favourite place on the island. To us,

Douglas Bay

the promenade area of the town was tired and grubby

Douglas Horrid

and had one of the best (i.e. worst) examples of a 20th century building being imposed tactlessly in a parade of 19th century buildings. Also the main shopping street immediately behind it offered few charms.

Douglas MSS

Towards the southern end of the parade is a

Douglas Jubilee Clock

rather nice late Victorian Clock and just to the right of it is a modern copy of an old building of the same shape

Victoria Street

as seen in this photograph - at least here they tried to build something not totally out of keeping with its environment.

Viewed from further away, Douglas does look quite nice. High up on the southern side of the town there is a “camera obscura” which provides views of the town. It was closed 

Douglas Bay

when we went there but from afar, the view of the bay and the harbour is very nice 

Douglas Steam Packet Arriving

and one can see ferries arriving (here from Heysham).

Douglas Bay Lighthouse

There is also a good view of the port lighthouse.

Horse Tram

Douglas is also famous for its Horse Tram Service which runs the whole length of the Promenade.

Horse Tram 0

For the sum of £3 single or £5.70 for a 24 hour ticket (2015 prices)

Horse Tram 1

you get to be pulled along the promenade at a sedate pace

Horse Tram 3

by a very large horse. The horse comes with a (somewhat ineffective) manure collector 

Horse Tram 2

and the promenade has one of the most unusual road signs I have ever seen.

When the horses are retired, they have their own rest home which is one of the popular tourist attractions on the island.

The Gaiety Theatre - Superb

On many Saturday mornings during the year, the Gaiety

Gaiety Poster

Theatre offers comprehensive behind the scenes tours and having been on one, we can say that it is a must for anyone interested in the theatre.

Gaiety Theatre IOM

The Gaiety (some history here and here) is one of the few

Frank Matcham

working examples of a Frank Matcham Theatre and dates from around 1900.

It is impossible to include all of the photographs we took but some of the best include:

Act Drop

This is a partial view of one of the only surviving Victorian Act Drops in the world (said to be valued at £7 million) and comes down in one piece from the tower above the stage.

Auditorium Dome

The Auditorium has a lovely dome above it which originally was lit with gas flames from above to give an impression of the sun.

Gaiety Auditorium

The view of the Auditorium from the stage is one which the a member of the audience rarely sees. This theatre was built inside the shell of an existing building and the shell structure can just be seem above The Gods in this photograph.

What it would have looked like

And this (a recreation picture taken recently) is what it would have looked like when full.

Beneath the stage is a fairly full set of working Victorian Stage

Corsican Trap 1

equipment including perhaps the only Corsican Trap. An actor stood on the platform and as it rose (going up the ramp in the picture), the actor gradually appeared on stage but travelled sideways across the stage as he did.

If that is difficult to understand, the video above (on YouTube) is the best I could find to demonstrate it.

There are also a number of other traps on the stage which work by the actor standing on a platform and being physically lifted up onto the stage (although there is a weight counterbalance to make it easy).

Refurbishment of the theatre is an ongoing process and work still to be done is evident in The Gods at the very top of the theatre.

Needing repair

Here also are the remnants of when the theatre was used as a Cinema

Old Cinema Equipment


and other memorabilia

Costume 1

Costume 2

including some costumes. 

This tour really was a very good way to get to understand how a Victorian Theatre worked.


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