"Quick, Clean, Smart & Bright": An Investigation into the Role of the Broadhead Family and their Popular Entertainment Circuit in the Theatre of North-West England, with Particular Reference to the Manchester Region

  • Victoria Garlick

Student thesis: Phd


"Quick, Clean, Smart and Bright" was the motto of the Broadhead theatre circuit. Developed by William Henry Broadhead (1848-1931) and his sons William Birch (1873-1907) and Percy (1878-1955), the circuit was constructed between 1896 and 1913, and consisted of seventeen venues in the North-West of England. These included theatres, music halls, cinemas, and large-scale entertainment complexes, such as the Morecambe Winter Gardens, all of which made a significant contribution to working class amusements in both little-known, and more popular areas.Since the death of Broadhead in 1931, the circuit fragmented, with none of the handful of buildings that remain today under the control of the family, or functioning as theatres or cinemas. Therefore, as Broadhead and his houses disappear from community memories, this thesis is an act of reclamation. As well as providing a biographical overview of the family itself, it is also concerned with situating their work against a wider context of late Victorian and Edwardian theatre, through a theoretical framework comprising amongst others, Jacky Bratton, Marvin Carlson and Henri Lefebvre. Concentrating on key areas such as the influence of family, the role of the social entrepreneur, and space, place and repertoire allows for a thematic study of greater depth than has previously been attempted, even at the level of major circuit owners such as Edward Moss (1852-1912) and Oswald Stoll (1866-1942), who will be used comparatively throughout, and also provides an interdisciplinary perspective.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAnn Featherstone (Supervisor) & Maggie Gale (Supervisor)


  • Theatre
  • Broadhead

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