Remembering the opera house that once stood on the site of a city car park


An advert for Norwich Grand Opera House. - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

Norwich is well-known for its thriving arts scene with galleries, music venues, and theatres across the city - but did you know it was once home to a Grand Opera House?

The venue welcomed Laurel and Hardy, but now it is more likely to see Ford Fiestas, Vauxhall Astras, and Peugeot 206s, as St Giles Car Park stands in its place following its demolition in 1966.

Planning for the opera house began in 1898 and it was eventually opened in 1903 as the Grand Opera House - but it never actually hosted an opera.

Just one year after opening it was purchased by another theatre company and during their time in charge of the venue a 12-year-old Cary Grant performed there.

The new ownership changed its name to the Hippodrome and became a full-time cinema in 1931.

In 1934 the cinema was one of the few in the UK to show Nazi propaganda film Morgenrot and in February 1954, the venue paid Laurel and Hardy £1,000 to perform.

The Hippodrome closed in 1960 and in 1966 it was demolished after being left abandoned, making way for the car park we know today.