Burton on Trent Landmarks #16 – George Street

George Street, Burton upon Trent

George Street is a small street close to Burton on Trent town centre, just off Station Street and Guild Street. It is not a street that many people would walk down regularly, and is mainly used as a shortcut between Station Street and Guild Street, but it is home to some of the most stunning buildings in the town.

The first set of buildings on the corner of George Street and Station Street is currently home to Burton Chiropody and Podiatry Centre, and was formerly a bakery. Confusingly, right next door to the chiropody centre on Station Street is a chiropractor. They must get people turning up to the chiropodists with back problems all the time.

Further down the street are more small businesses housed in old cottages; a hair salon and a dental clinic. There was a row of more cottages further along from there, but they were demolished to facilitate the expansion of the then-Bass Brewery, now operated by Molson Coors.

Trinity Church

The Trinity & Confessions

What later became Trinity Church was built by Thomas Lowe & Sons in 1860 as the United Methodist Free Church. It also became known as George Street Chapel, and was the favoured place of worship for many leading businessmen in the town. In 1972 the congregations of Byrkley Street Methodist Church, Cross Street Presbyterian Church and High Street Congregational Church moved to the church, which was renamed Trinity Free Church. At the year 2000 it was a joint Methodist and United Reformed Chapel. Due to a dwindling congregation, the church closed in 2014, although a nearby road sign on Station Street still points to “Trinity Church”.

The building was brought back to life as “The Trinity”, an events venue and small business centre which includes “Confessions”, a wedding and events venue. In 2019, local DJ Nathan Dawe and future Olympic bronze medal-winning boxer Frazer Clarke, along with another DJ Ben Taylor, known as ‘Btay’, put on an event at The Trinity for the benefit of the homeless. There was no entry fee, apart from donations of food and items to help the local homeless.

George Street in the 1890s, before the Sunday School and Liberal Club were built

George Street Sunday School

George Street Sunday School

Next door to The Trinity is the former church’s Sunday School building. Originally built as a brewery malthouse, it was converted to a Sunday School in 1893 by the architects Durward, Brown and Gordon of London. It is notable for its distinctive cupola at the top of the building, which I am guessing used to be where the school bell was hung. At the time of writing, the old building is being converted to 12 flats, having long ceased being used as a Sunday School.

Liberal Club

The Liberal Club, now Langan’s Tea Rooms. Note the Bass family crest above the upper window on the right

The Liberal Club, also known as Burton House, was built in 1894 as a replacement for the original Liberal club in the town, which was donated by Lord Burton, Michael Arthur Bass, to be the new Town Hall. Lord Burton actually changed political sides from the Liberal Party to the breakaway Liberal Unionists Party before the new club was opened, but he still paid for its construction and upkeep until 1900. The Liberal Club closed in 1944, and the premises became the George Street Club. In the 2000s, it was a restaurant called Chloe’s, then it briefly became the Mint Leaf Indian Restaurant, and is now home to Langan’s Tea Rooms.

Burton House sign on the wall outside the building

Langan’s is run as a social enterprise, with any profits being invested back into the community. All the staff are graduates of the BAC O’Connor Centre, a Burton-based recovery centre. The tea rooms are staffed by those who have used the centre’s services, giving them a chance to gain useful skills and qualifications.

Opera House

Across the road from the Trinity, Sunday School and Liberty Club is the former Opera House. Originally built in 1867 as St George’s Hall, it was converted to a theatre in 1887; St George’s Hall and Theatre. It had a stage 47 feet wide, 32 feet deep and scenery 18 feet high. In 1902, the new owners converted it to an opera house. Above the stage was a sign proclaiming “Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight”. The people of Burton and beyond were delighted by the opera house until 1934, when the new talking films became more popular than live entertainment. Famous faces to have appeared at the opera house include Charlie Chaplin, Frank Benson and Henry Irving.

The opera house made great efforts to produce realistic effects for their productions. However, it went wrong once when a live elephant was brought on stage for a jungle scene. The animal was not house-trained…

The opera house was altered again to become the Picturedrome Cinema, which later became the Ritz, the Gaumont and later still the Odeon. It closed in 1999 as Robins Cinema when the new Cineworld multiplex opened across the road in Middleway Park.

Since the turn of the millennium, the building has been used for a cat café (now closed), a buffet restaurant and a bar. The building is around half the height it used to be, with an incongruous metal roof having been added. It still bears the Robins Cinema sign on the Guild Street entrance, as well as the Ritz restaurant sign. At the time of writing, it is home to the Lifestyle Bar and Burton Elite Venue.


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