By Tenpin Bowling Proprietors Association President John Ashbridge
Top Rank Bowl King Street Oldham
A large live theatre located on the corner of King Street and Union Street, the Grand Theatre and Opera House was designed by London based architects Thomas Taylor & Ernest Simister. The theatre was almost totally rebuilt in 1937 by Gaumont Super Cinemas, headed by the Hyams brothers of London. Only the outer walls survived untouched and the corner entrance given a much more modern look. It was taken over fully by Gaumont British Theatres in 1944 and closed as a cinema by the Rank Organisation in 1961. It was briefly re-named Astoria Theatre, and The Beatles appeared there several times. In 1962 it was converted into a tenpin bowling centre and opened on 15th November. It was equipped with 14 AMF lanes and machines and operated for just over ten years before being converted into a nightclub in 1973. At that time a snooker club operated in the former foyer space. Closed for several years, in 2011 the building was converted into a roller derby centre known as the Thunderdome.