The Theatres Trust

Ryde Theatre

  • Theatre ID
  • Built / Converted
  • Dates of use
    • 1934 - 1990: 1991 continuing
  • Current state
  • Current use
    Dark (undergoing sale; most recently music venue)
  • Address
    Lind Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 2NL, England
  • Website


The new theatre in Ryde was opened in March 1991, but the building dates from May 1830 when the foundation stone was laid, and 1831 when it opened as the Market House and Town Hall. Designed by the London architect James Sanderson, it was part of a redevelopment for the town centre which included the new central Lind Street. Originally the Town Hall formed the centre of the building on the first floor, the ground floor forming the market house. The hall was originally 60ft X 27 ft, and could be divided into two. Changes took place on the ground floor as market use decreased: in 1866 a larger hall was built by the local architect Francis Newman, completed in January 1868 at the same time as the magnificent clock tower. In 1933 the Town Hall was severely damaged by fire but reopened in 1934. This is the interior which survives today as the new theatre. As the Town Hall, it was extensively used for musical entertainment and concerts, with world-class soloists appearing over the years. The glass canopy, built in 1902 was taken down in 1950. The auditorium is reminiscent of an early cinema, with Edwardian plaster design (against which the new lighting bars look out of place) and mahogany doors. A raked balcony has now been inserted to increase the capacity, to give more the air of a theatre, and to hold a sound and projection box. A bar and tea rooms have been created in sympathetic dér. The building, resembling a grand guildhall with clock tower, splendid corridors and foyer, lift the plain theatre into a remarkable venue, on which much has been spent. However, the stage is small, and the curtained proscenium could have been given a more traditional finish. In recent years it has been a popular and successful music venue, but the Council is now seeking interested parties to run the building following sale. It is believed that the new owners will re-open as a theatre and live entertainment venue.

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  • Other names
    Market House & Town Hall, Town Hall
  • Events
    • Owner/Management: Local council, owners
    • 1831 Design/Construction: as Town Hall & market house
      • James Sanderson - Architect
    • 1869 Alteration: designed larger hall
      • Francis Newman - Architect
    • 1869 Alteration: clock tower and exterior modified
      • Thomas Dashwood - Architect
    • 1934 - 1990 Use: 1991 continuing
    • 1934 Alteration: repaired and refurbished following fire (architect unknown).
    • 1950 Alteration: glass canopy taken down
    • 1990 - 1991 Alteration: converted to theatre, with balcony installed; refurbished; sound, light and projection equipment installed; dressing rooms enhanced
      • Nigel Hayton - Architect
  • Capacities
    • Later: 1910: 630 1992: 502
    • Current: 502
  • Listings
    • Grade II
  • Stage type
    • Pros flat
  • Dimensions
    • Stage dimensions: 1910 Depth: 12ft Width: 18ft 6in 1992 Depth: 4.7m Width: 11.6m
    • Proscenium width: 1992: 7.6m
    • Height to grid: 1992: 4m
    • Orchestra pit: None

Of the period

Exterior of the former Fisher Theatre, Bungay, 1993
Fisher Theatre

Have you seen?

Proscenium at the Grand Theatre, Doncaster, 1995
Grand (Doncaster)

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