King's Theatre

The only surviving theatre in the Dundee area capable of hosting large touring productions. Much of the opulent original auditorium remains and could be restored.

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21-29 Cowgate, Dundee
Risk Rating
7 (risk rating: 2, star rating: 2, community rating: 3)
Local Authority
Dundee City Council
25 – 29 Cowgate: Park Investments (Dundee) Ltd (currently in administration); 23 Cowgate: Duthus Properties Ltd; 21 Cowgate: Private Owner
James Thomson
Date of Construction
Category B
Estimated at 1,000


If restored, the handsome King’s could become a great asset to the city of Dundee which is in need of a large proscenium touring house. The theatre has an impressive and handsome frontage and originally had lavish interiors including commodious front of house spaces, lined in mahogany and teak, and a very opulent auditorium in the Edwardian manner with decorative panels, Baroque and Rococo style plasterwork, a fine saucer domed ceiling with frescoes and a marble proscenium frame. Work to the theatre in 1955 sadly included the partial demolition of the balcony and the insertion of a false ceiling above the circle. After closing as a bingo hall, much archaeological investigation took place and it was established that enough of the original interior (including the ceiling) remained intact to enable the theatre to be restored.

Why is this theatre at risk?

After the cinema closed in 1982, part of the building was subsequently run as a bingo hall and then partly as a themed bar/nightclub. The retail units at ground floor are currently in use, however the nightclub that most recently operated from the auditorium has now closed and the building is in the hands of the administrators. The roof that was previously leaking into the billiards room, on the top floor, has been repaired however the façade is in need of maintenance as the building is still suffering from water ingress and is currently showing extended foliage growth on the south-western façade which is a significant risk to both the building and the passing public. Additionally, two second floor windows are beginning to move inwards.

Current situation

The King's Theatre Trust has been actively campaigning to purchase and restore the theatre for live performance together with the adjoining Continental Ballroom to provide retail and bar/restaurant facilities. The Trust has recently been reviewing different strategies to take advantage of new legislation and funding opportunities in Scotland, including investigating funding for a viability study. The Trust has also registered its interest in the building with the administrators, however, without funding to back an acquisition, the ownership and future of the building remains uncertain.

Image: King's Theatre, Theatres Trust