Jersey Opera House
St Helier, Jersey
Telephone: 01534 511 115
Venue Email: [email protected]
Contact: Jasmine Hendry
In 1865 Henry Cornwall built Jersey a new theatre which he named Cornwall’s Royal Amphitheatre and Circus. This was located in Gloucester Street, St Helier where Jersey Opera House stands today. During his short ownership of the new theatre Cornwall employed actor William Wybert Rousby as its manager. In 1868 Mr Rousby bought the theatre re-naming it Theatre Royal.
William Rousby had many connections in the theatre world and managed to secure professional companies to perform from London and Paris. The programme offered was varied and included traditional harlequinade, comedy, drama, farce and grand and comic opera, as well as many local productions. After a period of some 30 years Mr Rousby sold the theatre to Sidney Cooper for a reported sum of £8.601.15 shillings. It was said at the time that Mr Cooper who came from the UK had a reputation for managerial enterprise and energy.
Sidney Cooper completely renovated the inside of the theatre including introducing an incline to the stalls. The theatre re- opened on Easter Monday 1898. Alas after only one year the theatre was destroyed by fire on the 28 March 1899. Sidney Cooper then employed Adolphus Curry a civil engineer to design a new theatre. Mr Curry had been educated at Victoria College and had then moved to the UK to complete his training.
On his return to the island Mr Curry had been employed on Peel Villas, St Paul’s Church and The Victoria Club in St Helier. Sidney Cooper with his new partners the Channel Island Entertainment company re named the new theatre Jersey Opera House. Jersey Opera House opened its doors on the 9th July 1900 and in spite of certain areas of the building not being completed the show went on. The grand re opening performance was Sydney Grundy’s ‘The Degenerates’ starring Jersey’s very own Lillie Langtry who had curtailed her holidays to have the honour of being the first performer to tread the new boards.