Excavating The Old Bank Theatre


The Old Bank Theatre, March 2013

History of the Royal Liver Friendly Society
About the Old Bank Theatre building

* * *

Despite my deductions below, and as Helena has since pointed out – the Liver birds on the building make it more than likely that the building was purpose built for the Royal Liver Friendly Society.  I don’t have permission to publish the photo I found (dated 1933) in the Salford Local History Library.  I’ll go back at some stage to see if I can get permission to upload it here.

I’ve been asked on several occasions if I’m saving the facade… and people wonder why I’m bothering with saving a brick wall instead.  The short answer is, because it’s possible.  The long answer – has been 18 months in the making and will only really be an answer when and if the wall goes back up, in a year’s time.

If anyone knows anything about the history of The Old Bank Theatre – at any point in its lifetime – do get in touch.

* * *

Message sent to Helena Coates, 1 Aug:

Hey Helena,

Great to meet up yesterday… I went back to the library (they’re open late on Wed’s) and the Bank building could have been built 1914-15. This is at least when the registry entry changed from Warwickshire Furnishing Co Ltd (1914) to National Bank Ltd (1915)…

Here’s photos of the site as E. Jamieson Tailors c.1910 and as Royal Liver Friendly Society, 1933. I couldn’t find any photos in between these two dates so can’t say for certain it wasn’t built by the RLFS… (need to work out when they took over from National Bank – will be between 1923-1933)

The National Bank Ltd is an Irish bank, founded 1835 by a group including Daniel O’Connell (just reading his Wikipedia – wow, I had no idea…)

From the RBS website, there’s a brief history of the bank: http://heritagearchives.rbs.com/companies/list/the-national-bank-ltd.html

They went through a period of expansion between 1888-1922 so it’s possible it was built in 1914-5, I suppose before the impacts of war would make it impossible.

I;m hoping to see if I can work out the timings in relation to the outbreak of war… though the cataloguing of the Salford Reporter (the only local newspaper then) is light so it requires scrolling through the microfiches. Only managed to get through the first two weeks of Jan 1914 so far. One thing that niggles is that the design of the building seems incredibly modern for 1914. I’ll have to ask an architectural historian. It’s still possible the bank was built by RLFS but given the recession in the 20s and 30s I wonder. Also that in 1933, there’s a ‘To Let’ sign in the window makes me think that unless there was a cataclysmic decline in fortune they wouldn’t have had the resources to erect a building.

I think regardless of which bank, there does seem to be an interesting and recurrent narrative on the site – as you pointed out – about putting forth an alternative societal trajectory to the dominant / capitalist one. Which it seemed both banks, despite being banks, tried to do. Which the community theatre group tried to do, and now what we are trying to do. Must be in the water 🙂

Am focusing again on the structural engineering and logistical stuff but may go back to the library tomorrow to work out what happened after 1945.

More soon! xx

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