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Silk programme

Silk programme

  • Place of origin:

    Newcastle upon Tyne (Printed)

  • Date:

    1891 (Printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    R. Ward & Sons (Printer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Printed silk

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This silk programme with its eye-catching salmon-pink typeface was produced to commemorate a 'Grand Afternoon Performance' or matinee at The Empire Variety Theatre Newcastle, on the 28th October 1891 in aid of the Newcastle Infirmary. The Empire Variety Theatre was the first joint venture of Horace Edward Moss (1852-1912) and Frank Thornton, and one of the earliest Moss Empires Variety Theatres, which at its peak comprised thirty-three theatres, the largest chain in the world. Designed by Oliver and Leeson, it was built to a sumptuous standard, despite the location of the stage above the kitchen of an inn below, which frequently resulted in smells invading the auditorium.

At the opening ceremony for the Empire Theatre the previous December, its lessees Edward Moss and Frank Thornton had appeared on stage and declared they would cater for Newcastle audiences 'with first class matter, free from any objectionable features'. Of the sixteen acts on this bill, five were dancers, two were singers, seven were comedians, one was a bicycle act and another an act featuring 'the World's Worst Wizards', late 19th-century precursors to the well-known 20th century comedy magician Tommy Cooper.

Physical description

Typographical silk programme printed in salmon-pink lettering on a cream programme with an integral fringe top and bottom, headed with the name of the theatre 'THE NEW Empire Variety Theatre NEWGATE STREET, NEWCASTLE' in upper and lower case lettering, followed by the names of the Lessees, Messrs. Moss & Thornton; the General Manager Mr. J.G. Allen; the Acting Manager Mr. J. Pellow, and the Musical Director Mr. J.W. Dawson. 'GRAND AFTERNOON PERFORMANCE FOR THE BENEFIT of the NEWCASTLE INFIMARY' is printed below the list of the management, with the date WEDNESDAY 28th OCTOBER 1891. This is followed by a list of the seventeen acts, and in much smaller typeface the name and address of the printer.

Place of Origin

Newcastle upon Tyne (Printed)


1891 (Printed)


R. Ward & Sons (Printer)

Materials and Techniques

Printed silk


Height: 33.5 cm excluding fring, Width: 25.8 cm, Height: 36.5 cm approximately, including fringe

Object history note

This silk programme was printed for the Grand Afternoon Performance Benefit for the Newcastle Infirmary at the Empire Variety Theatre Newcastle, 28 October 1891. This was the first theatre built by Horace Edward Moss and Richard Thornton and was one of the earliest of the chain of Moss Empires Variety Theatres that opened around the country between 1890 and 1912 when Moss died.

There were 17 items of entertainment on the programme starting with the Overture, followed by Miss Lily Sweeney, Burlesque Artiste and Dancer; The Fordes, Operatic Burlesque Artistes; Mr J. Pigg, Vocal Comedian; Miss Ida Rozelle, Charming Serio and Dancer, Mr H..H.Walton, Vocal Comedian; Walter Monroe, The Favourite Irish Comedian and Dancer; Lotto, Lilo and Otto, Mavellous Bycyclists; Mr Edward Clark, Vocal Comedian; Lester King, The Eminent Baritone; Miss Lizzie Chase, Serio-Comedienne and Dancer; J. H. Milburn, The Great Character Comedian; Hellis, Hurst and Huby, Negro Comedians; Mr J.B. Radcliffe, Tyneside Comedian; Arthur Picardo, Vocalist and Dancer; Mr E. Fenwicke, Vocal Comedian; and Walton and Lester, The World's Worst Wizards.

Descriptive line

Silk programme prind for the Grand Afternoon Performance for the Benefit of the Newcastle Infimary, 28th October 1891, featuring a Variety programme with amongst others Miss Ida Rozelle, Walter Munroe, Lotto, Lilo and Otto, Lester King, Miss Lizzie Chase, and Walton and Lester.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Northern Music Hall by Frank Graham and G. J. Mellor


Printing ink; Silk; Silk (textile); Ink




Entertainment & Leisure; Variety


Theatre and Performance Collection

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