following images are examples of some forms of entertainment available
in the latter part of the 19th Century in Dundee, Scotland.
you are living in the 19th Century, without television and computers
What sort of things might you do to have fun and be entertained?
Halls were numerous and performances were regularly given by theatre
troupes, ventriloquists, hypnotists, poets, comedians, choirs and
orchestras. Circuses came to town and set up in parks and public
places. There were fetes, carnivals, art exhibitions and lessons
in singing, dancing and cooking to attend. Talks were given by visiting
notables, scientists, preachers, and people who had been adventuring
in different countries.
on your social status, you could join various social groups such
as 'The Gleaners of Nature', sewing and craft groups, sporting and
church groups, as well as various lodges and friendly societies.
Well-to-do ladies would often join committees and organise events
such as bazaars, fetes and exhibitions to raise money for hospitals,
churches and charitable exhibitions. However, in the 19th century,
working hours were long and the pay inadequate. Many working people
were poor and could not afford to attend the theatre or have the
time to join social groups, as they had families and children to
information can be found in original documents contained in the
Lamb Collection and the Dundee City Archives. A large portion of
the material has been digitised and is available for online viewing
you click on the images below, you can view them at an enlarged
These images may take some time to download.
illustrated programme which was changed every evening. The Venue
was the Theatre Royal and the proprietor was W. McFarland. The programme
cost one penny. The Acts advertised included Messrs. Taylor and
Gowans', a Song and Dance Act, Harry Leander, The Great Tyrolean
Vocalist, and Townsend and Josephine, Duettists and Leg Mania Artistes.
the programme were two poems "He'll Be Back By-and- Bye"
and "If I was the Man in the Moon". There was a change
of Artistes weekly. The General Manager was a Mr Harry Hemfrey,
and the programme was printed by J. Durham and Son.
Grand Circus, Programme
and Circus, owned by James Newsome, was situated at the Craig Pier,
having been transferred to this location from East Dock Street.The
performance is introduced by a Grand Overture by the Band conducted
by Mr. A. Stubbs.
A complete programme
of entertainment was offered with many equestrian acts, including
Mlle. Pauline Newsome who introduced the wonderful performing horse
"Satanella". Admission was sixpence for the Gallery and
reserved seats cost three shillings.
Evening Concert - Tay Bridge Disaster Fund
grand evening concert of Scotch Music and Burns' songs was given
in Dundee's Kinnaird Hall on 6th February 1880 to raise money for
the Tay Bridge Disaster Fund. On 28th December the previous year,
a storm had destroyed part of the bridge, causing the loss of a
reverse lists all the performers, while the programme is given in
detail inside. The opening "Dryburgh Quadrilles" was arranged
specially for the event by the conductor, William Wallace. On the
day of the concert, another body was recovered from the river.
22nd - 26th August 1892
prospectus was printed 1892 for a series of practical demonstrations
and lectures on cookery by Mrs H. M. Young, the author of several
treatises on the subject. The classes took place in Gray's Assembly
Rooms, Perth Road, Dundee.
took place in the afternoon [costing sixpence (2.5p) or threepence
(1.25p)] or in the evening (free by ticket, or threepence for a
front seat). Each session had a different theme, and was divided
between High-class cookery (afternoon) and Household cookery (evening).
Music Hall Poster
Dundee Music Hall was situated in a fine square stone building at
the foot of Castle Street with a beautifully sprung wooden floor.
It later became the City Assembly Rooms and then a Masonic Temple.
This poster illustrates the attractions of the time.
date on the poster is May 7th 1880 and it states that it is the
annual benefit of a Mr. W. McFarland. The artistes include Mr William
McGonagall (spelled wrongly), Little Levite and Jessie Nina, Joe
Colvero, and performing dogs and monkeys. The prices were from four
pence (1.66p) to one shilling for a box.
Party: A musical sketch for juveniles
25th and 27th February 1892
programme was printed in connection with an entertainment, given
in Bowbridge Works Hall, Dundee, by 60 children from the Clepington
Parish Church Sabbath School Choir. The story involved solo songs,
choruses, and choruses with actions.
The money raised [entrance cost sixpence (2.5p) and threepence (1.5p)]
was to clear the debt on the Church Hall Harmonium, an instrument
which was regularly used to accompany hymn singing.
at the Kinnaird Hall
14th and 16th February 1891
advertises Hypnotism by Dr. Charles Rutland, the famous Hypnotist,
in his Unique Entertainment from the Crystal Palace. London. He
was introduced as a Hypnotised Actor, Humorist and Thought Reader
and the performance took place at the Kinnaird Hall.
illustrations of hypnotism involved the subject being thrown into
the hypnotic trance as well as losing his own identity. The programme
also includes a few press comments. Admisssion was from sixpence
(2.5p) to two shilllings and sixpence (25p).
Duncan, Artist, Party invitation
July 28th 1890
to Mr. Lamb was from John Duncan, Artist, who was exhibiting, at
a party, a full-length portrait of Mrs. Hunter in court dress. The
party was to be held in Messrs. Murray and Son's salon in the Nethergate.
John Duncan was born in Dundee in 1866, and began his career at
the Art School at the age of 11.
He went to London
and Germany and spent four years as Professor of Fine Art in America.
It has been said of some of Mr.Duncan's work that it is a "transportation
from the land of fairy fancy". He died in Edinburgh in 1945.
T. Brock & Co.'s Grand Evening Fete
the Queen's birthday in 1896 a spectacular fete and fireworks display
were held in Carolina Port, Dundee. This programme lists all the
fireworks and the music which was played by the band of the 1st
Forfar Artillery Volunteers, directed by William Wallace, one of
Dundee's leading musicians.
climax of the event was a "colossal fire portrait of Her Majesty
the Queen", showing the dates 1819 (when she was born) and
1896. One of the displays was designed to imitate the Aurora Borealis.
Fine Art Exhibition, First Conversazione, 1883
card and programme were for a Conversazione held for the Dundee
Fine Art Exhibition of 1883.The Exhibition itself ran for three
months. Artists were invited to send their work - though no more
than three items - for possible inclusion and sale at the Exhibition.
for the Conversazione, which took place on Wednesday, 31st October
1883, consisted of a two-part musical entertainment with "Promenading"
during the interval. The entertainment consisted of a selection
of songs and piano solos in part one and "The Daughter of Jairus"
Cantata by S. Rheinberger in the second.