Virtual Museum of Chester history

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Welcome to our virtual museum . Collected here you will find items from recent Chester history and the stories, emotions and memories behind them, if you’d like to submit an item to the collection, please get in touch.

1. Royalty Theatre programme (1950) 


Formerly situated on City Road ( now a Premier Inn) the theatre which opened in 1882 is fondly remembered by Cestrians. Over the years the stage was graced by many stars including local legends  Russ Abbot and Keith Harris and Orville, to Ken Dodd, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The building closed as a theatre in 1966 and was occupied by various businesses before being demolished completely in 2001 leaving no trace of its artistic or cultural legacy. This programme from November 1950 features a production of “On Monday Next” with the actor Lennard Pearce playing the Author. Lennard Pearce (1915-1984) became well known for playing Grandad in Only Fools and Horses.  


2. Toy and Hobby carrier bag (early 1980s) 


The holy grail of “lost” Chester stores, Toy and Hobby was on Foregate street and an iconic memory for children of the 1980s.  The North West chain had branches in Chester, St Helens, Stockport, Oldham, Wigan and Birkenhead.  Its distinctive  lime green plastic studded floor is a memory for many,  with shopping trips for  Cabbage Patch Dolls, Star Wars figures, Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Lego and many more. The unit was later filled by HMV but is now a Deichmann shoe shop.

3. Chester zoo monkey house brick (1989) 


The  monkey house brick was part of the fundraising drive to build the new chimpanzee enclosure at the zoo. The conical enclosure linked to a moated outside area was opened by HRH Diana Princess of Wales in 1989, an event attended by many local school children.

4.  Rental Plans for the Cannon cinema (1993) 


The Cannon cinema (formerly the ABC Regal) on the corner of Love Street/ Foregate street closed in 1990 and the site was eventually taken over by Brannigans in 1995.  The nightclub  traded there until 2010. The ground floor is now a Caffe Nero and the upstairs is part of Primark.  In its prime the cinema could hold over 2000 people and like the Royalty Theatre, hosted some big name acts over the years. During the Rolling Stones visit in 1964 the band had to escape onto the roof to escape the crowds on the street. The location plan from the 1990s listing features many retailers now long vanished from the High Street, including C&A, BHS, Dixons, Our Price and Burger King. 

Pics : Paul Wilson
Death of Brannigans 2012

5. NO SMOKING AT THE BAR sign, The Square Bottle (2006) 


This sign once hung over the bar at the Square Bottle (Wetherspoons) on Foregate street. Wetherspoons banned smoking in all of their pubs in 2006 prior to a UK wide ban introduced a year later. Prior to this customers could smoke anywhere in the pub apart from the family area or at the bar. The sign was found in a skip.

6. Last flyer from  Cineworld (2013) 

Cineworld, towards the end of its life

Cineworld opened in December 1990 with 6 screens. The cinema closed in October 2013 and was demolished with the neighbouring bowling alley to make way for an Asda. It was Chester’s last surviving cinema until Storyhouse opened in May 2017.

7. Last edition Leader ( 2018_)


The Chester Leader launched in October 1973, from a base in Mold, North Wales.  The Wrexham and Flintshire editions are still in print, but with circulation declining the Chester Edition was discontinued in 2018. The final edition was not announced or marked by the paper in any way.  Chester news coverage continues online and via the weekly free Chester Standard, although the rise of the internet has made print media increasingly defunct.

All exhibits considered for entry into the museum. Comment on blog or via @shitchester on twitter.

Sources :

The Royalty Theatre, Chester (

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