The Theatres Trust

Connaught Theatre

  • Theatre ID
  • Built / Converted
  • Dates of use
    • 1935: Connaugh continuing
    • 1916 - 1935: Connaugh continuing Ritz 1946-50; 1953 continuing
  • Current state
  • Current use
    Theatre (Theatre, studio theatre and cinema)
  • Address
    Union Place, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 1LG, England


Two buildings now jointly operated by Worthing Theatres (part of Worthing Borough Council) as Connaught Theatre and Connaught Cinema and Studio. The Connaught Theatre was built as the Picturedrome in 1914 on the site of Stanmore Lodge, which had been acquired by the newly-formed Picturedrome (Worthing) Ltd. Seating capacity was 850 in a single tier, with four boxes at rear. The main entrance from Chapel Road had a canopy crowned with a dome and led to a crush lobby, whilst that from Union Street led directly into the auditorium. Plans show a steel frame-work and an elegant rounded auditorium, richly panelled, with an octagonal ceiling feature. In 1933, a new stage and proscenium were constructed, together with dressing rooms and a scene dock, by taking in land at the rear; at the same time the interior was modernised and most of the original plasterwork obscured. Two years later the Union Place front was rebuilt in Moderne style, two rendered storeys, parapeted, in three bays; the centre bay slightly taller and slightly advanced with the name of the theatre in relief sans serif letters; curved end bay set back to the right. Strip windows continue round the corners; entrance canopy projects from storey band at first floor level. Until c.1990 the safety curtain was that of 1895 from the Theatre Royal (demolished), brought to the venue by Seebold, who had acquired the theatre in 1904 and was responsible for much of the town’s entertainment history. The Ritz (also known at various times as the Ritz Ballroom and, briefly, as Vaudeville and Garrison Theatre) was built in 1916 by Connaught Buildings Syndicate Ltd, and opened as the Connaught Hall, above a newly-built parade of shops in Chapel Road. An entrance between the shops then served the Picturedrome. The exterior was neo-Georgian in style; the auditorium was built for dances and concerts, and is typical of an early cinema with elegant plaster mouldings of fruit and roses, surrounds with cross-ribbon detail, heavy shields on the walls and a rounded proscenium. The Hall became a repertory theatre, and proved so popular that the repertory had to be moved next door to the larger theatre. During the war it was used by the Home Guard, and later, after acquisition by the Connaught Theatre, for painting scenery and for private hire.

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  • Other names
    Connaught Theatre and Ritz, Picturedrome, New Connaught Theatre, Connaught Cinema and Studio
  • Events
    • Owner/Management: Current: Worthing Borough Council
    • Owner/Management: Ritz: Connaught Buildings Syndicate Ltd
    • Owner/Management: Connaught: Picturedrome (Worthing) Ltd, owner
    • 1914 Design/Construction: as Picturedrome
      • Peter Stoneham - Architect
    • 1916 - 1935 Use: Connaugh continuing Ritz 1946-50; 1953 continuing
    • 1916 Alteration: Connaught Hall built adjacent (later Ritz)
      • Unknown - Architect
    • 1926 Owner/Management: H J Brazier, owner; run by Seebold
    • 1927 Owner/Management: Carl Adolf Seebold, later Connaught Theatre (Worthing) Ltd
    • 1933 Alteration: stage, dressing rooms and fly tower added; auditorium extended
      • A T Goldsmith - Architect
    • 1935 Use: Connaugh continuing
    • 1935 Alteration: new façade with entrance foyer and bar above
      • A T Goldsmith - Architect
    • 1953 Owner/Management: Connaught Theatre (Worthing) Ltd
    • 1986 Alteration: refurbished
      • Borough Architect - Architect
  • Capacities
    • Original: C: 860 R: 450
    • Later: Connaught 514; Ritz 225
    • Current: 506; 2015; Connaught Theatre, 506 + 6 wheelchair
    • Current: 242; 2015; Connaught Cinema and Studio, 242
  • Listings
    • Grade Not listed
  • Stage type
    • Proscenium Rake 1:22
  • Dimensions
    • Building dimensions: Main house: 10.92m
    • Stage dimensions: Depth: 10.05m Width SL: 7.69m SR: 10.13m
    • Proscenium width: 10.92m
    • Height to grid: 11.89m
    • Orchestra pit: Now for 20

Of the period

Stage from 'the gods', New Wimbledon Theatre, 2008
New Wimbledon Theatre

Have you seen?

Streetscape showing the site previously occupied by Camberwell Palace of Varieties, London, 1989
Camberwell Palace Of Varieties

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