Built in 1845, this is Manchester's oldest surviving theatre building and one of the finest examples of theatre architecture to have survived in Britain from the first half of the nineteenth century.
Manchester's oldest surviving theatre building. Built in 1845 on an island site, it is an impressive building in the Classical style. The monumental façade is one of the finest examples of theatre architecture to have survived in Britain from the first half of the nineteenth century and it was clearly a source of inspiration for Richardson and his partners when designing the front of the Royal Opera House in London. The theatre was internally remodelled once in 1875 and again in 1921, but retains ornate plasterwork. The ceiling, now not easily visible, has deeply coved sides and basketwork enrichment reminiscent of the Royal Opera House. The theatre’s architectural and historical significance has never been properly researched, including the importance of its stage machinery which is understood to have survived. The internal conversion to nightclub use obscured rather than destroyed the theatre interior, which appears to be capable of restoration.
Why is this theatre at risk?
The Theatre Royal had been used as a nightclub but this closed in 2009. There was a possibility that the Library Theatre might relocate into the Theatre Royal but this was superseded by the creation of a new venue, HOME. In 2012 the building was bought by the Edwardian Hotel Group for redevelopment.
The hotel developer has not yet outlined any details of its future plans for the historic building. Edwardian is currently involved in the redevelopment of the Odeon West End cinema and adjoining premises in London’s Leicester Square to create a modern hotel-cinema complex. It is hoped that any plans that the group may have will preserve the significance of this important building and not preclude it from being brought back into live performance use in the future.
Image: Theatre Royal, Ian Grundy