Building Name

Temporary Covered Arena, Manchester Racecourse, New Barnes, Salford

New Barnes, Salford
GMCA, England
William Cody (Buffalo Bill)
New Build
Robert Neill and Sons

THE “WILD WEST” THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE MANCHESTER SHOW - The Wild West show, which was so great a success in London, is to be opened here in a fortnight. The racecourse has been chosen as a site for it, and an enormous building has been growing up here for six weeks. The building is to cost about £15,000 and will seat about 10,000 persons. These figures will give some idea of the scale upon which the show is to be conducted. The building, of course, is of wood, with heavy brick walls supporting the galleries which rise at the sides and along the back of it. The work is of a thoroughly substantial kind. One would never suppose, indeed, that the building was for temporary use. Nothing on so great a scale has ever been done before to accommodate a passing show. The fact that it has seats for 10,000 persons does not fully indicate the extent of the building. The arena and the stage take up a vast space. With a herd of buffaloes and 150 horses all “on” at the same time, a great deal of room will of course be needed if there is to be anything like the freedom of the prairie. The main building is 400 feet long, 250 feet wide, and 80 feet high. The camp, which is a continuation of the main building, is 200 feet long and 85 feet wide. A recital of its dimensions is perhaps not sufficient to construct the building in the mind of an ordinary reader. Something more definite may be managed by comparison.  Well take the Jubilee Exhibition. The distance from the dome to the wall at the music room end was about 500 feet, and the music room was about 100 feet wide. In point of length then, the race-course building, leaving out the camp, is not quite equal to the whole eastern nave of the Exhibition, but it is nearly three times as wide and the roof is much higher. The stage space (the ground will be the stage) is about twice the size of the music room at the Exhibition though the proscenium opening is no more than the same width as the Exhibition music room.

The building is to be heated with steam and lighted with electricity. An iron curtain is to be put up to isolate the “Wild West” should need arise, and everything is to be coated with asbestos fire-proof paint. The building is provided with 16 exits, through which a full audience would be able to flow out in about two minutes. The Salford magistrates have exercised close supervision in regard to these matters, and the Mayor and a number of other magistrates visited the place yesterday. The show is likely to remain here for five months, and we are informed that it will be produced in a much more effective fashion than was the case in London. The improvement is to be in the scenery, “miles” of which have been painted by Mr Mat Morgan. In London little was done in this way, but here the scenic element is to be a strong feature. The back “drops” are 190 feet wide and 50 feet high, and for convenience in handling such enormous pieces of scenery a steam engine is to be at hand to unroll them from a kind of cylinder. To get a more effective perspective, these back drops will be circular in shape. Steam is also to be used for other scenic purposes. A tornado is produced at one point, and realism is to be carried to such an extent that a fifty miles an hour wind is to be raised by three large air propellers revolving four hundred times a minute. Another advantage the show will gain from a covered building is that the light will be completely under control, and this of course is an important matter in such a business as the coming of day upon the prairie. The whole of the personnel will live under tents in the camp, which will be one of the points of the show. The horses, of which there are 250, will be accommodated in the permanent stables on the course, and for the buffaloes and other wild animals special quarters have been put up.

The architects of the building are Messrs Mangnall and Littlewoods of Manchester, and the contractors Messrs R Neill and Sons, the builders of the Exhibition. It may be worth mentioning that so far as Manchester is concerned the undertaking is largely financed by a number of local gentlemen, who are represented by Mr Mansell of the Queen’s Theatre, and Mr W Calder, “Arizona John,” the general manager for Mr Cody, has been in Manchester for some time, superintending the arrangements.

Reference    Manchester Courier 22 October 1887 page 14
Reference    Manchester Guardian 29 November 1887 page 8
Reference    Manchester Guardian 2 December 1887 page 7
Reference    Manchester Guardian 17 December 1887 page 8