This podcast from Dr Claire Robinson, from a collection of short papers on aspects of sport and leisure history, has its origins in two North-West British Society of Sports History regional symposia hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University on its Crewe campus. The contributors come from many different backgrounds and include some of Britain’s leading academic sports and leisure historians alongside early career researchers and independent scholars in the field of sports and leisure history. The full collection of papers were later published in book form, Sport and Leisure Histories, please click here for more details and purchase information 



In the February of 1889 Captain Richard Bousfield Bainbridge, lessee of the Theatre Royal in Manchester was declared bankrupt owing £32,025. 18s.1d. Bankruptcy was not uncommon amongst theatres of the day, many of which survived from year to year on the profits of the annual pantomime.

Manchester is not the best city to choose to investigate the finances of the late Victorian theatre, as unlike some other cities almost nothing of the accounts of individual theatres appears to have survived. Frequent references to proper accounts not having been kept were made during Captain Bainbridge’s bankruptcy hearing, so it is not surprising that no records can be found in any archive. Through the reports of the bankruptcy that appeared in a number of newspapers at the time it is possible, however, to draw together a broadly accurate picture of the details of the theatre’s accounts over the nine years of his tenure of the Theatre Royal and to gain an understanding of the events that year on year increased his debt to its inevitable conclusion.


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Article © Claire Robinson