Because of it’s pivotal position at the junction of Scotland road and Stanley road, the Rotunda was an important local landmark since it’s construction in 1860. Sadly the building was completely destroyed during the Blitz. But such was it’s presence that even after the war, those who remembered it would still refer to ‘the Rotunda‘ when giving directions to passers-by in Bootle!
The site at the junction of Scotland road and Stanley road was built in 1860 and was originally a public house. In 1866 the proprietor introduced plans for the re-siting of the entertainment on a more extensive upper floor where a larger stage was constructed at the Scotland Road end of the building. The largely musical fare was then supplemented by sketches.
After further reconstruction with the addition of a gallery, the establishment was opened as the Rotunda Theatre on 23rd November 1869 with a Grand Concert! Two days later on 25th November, a performance by specially engaged first class artists commenced at precisely 7.00pm. On that evening it was reported the exterior of the building was brilliantly illuminated by fireworks, and there was also a grand magnesium balloon ascent prior to the opening.
The Rotunda was destroyed by fire in 1877, but was happily rebuilt in a grander style with principal elevations to Stanley Road and Scotland Road connected by a curved corner, surmounted by a dome at the end nearest Scotland Road. The grand reopening of the new Rotunda Theatre took place on Friday 20th December 1878 and over the next sixty years the various directors of this theatre continued to advance the reputation of the Rotunda as one of the leading centres of melodrama in the provinces.
The Rotunda was destroyed by german bombing on 21st September 1940, but the shell remained standing until 4th May 1941, when fire, bomb blasts and shock waves during the May Blitz caused the walls to finally collapse. This was quite common, frequent stories were reported of people being injured by falling debris whilst returning to their homes following the ‘all clear’.