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Alhambra Theatre


An unassuming facade with an elaborate history, the Alhambra started life as swimming baths. Built in 1886 by Joseph Brown, during winter months the baths were boarded over and the building used for a variety of entertainments such as ballroom dancing, skating, gymnasium and (from 1905 or 1906) showing animated pictures. Set next door to Slater's Ice-Works, locals suggest that the surface of the pool would be frozen to form an ice-skating rink.

The Baths closed in 1908 (although Mr Brown continued to own it), and opened as The Alhambra, showing silent cinema and variety (with live orchestra). Mr C S Dickinson was the certified Bioscope operator. From February 1926 the Alhambra turned to full time music hall and varieties. By 1936 it had returned to cinema, with live variety at weekends. The doors closed on 5 May 1957, and the building has seen several (mostly retail) uses since. The Victorian baths remain in situ beneath the boarded over floor, but it is unlikely that any evidence of its time in theatre use still exist.

[With thanks to Jonathon Leigh for his research]

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1886 - 1908: during winter months, on boarded-over pool
  • 1908 : as cine-variety, bioscope, music hall; cinema from 1936-1957.
Current state
Current use
Converted to other use (pool remains beneath boarded over floor of current shop)
7 North Street, Nelson, Lancashire, BB9 7NF, England
Further details
Other names
Alhambra Picture Palace , Brown's Baths , The Alhambra
  • 1886 Design/Construction: as swimming baths - boarded over in winter for ballroom, skating, gym, theatre and films.
  • 1886 Owner/Management: Joseph Brown, proprietor
  • 1886 - 1908 Use: during winter months, on boarded-over pool
  • 1908 Use: as cine-variety, bioscope, music hall; cinema from 1936-1957.
  • 1978 Alteration: balcony removed.
  • Capacity
Stage type
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: -
Proscenium width: -
Height to grid: -
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: -