New Bedford Theatre by Walter Sickert


DID FRANK MATCHAM HAVE COMPETITION? an illustrated talk by Richard Norman organised by the Frank Matacham Society.


This year’s talk is the fourth in a series arranged by the Frank Matcham Society annually to mark ‘European Historic Theatres Day’ on 25 October. European Historic Theatres Day was established in 2017 by Perspectiv, Association of Historic Theatres in Europe to highlight the work and achievements of historic venues across the continent. In previous years the Frank Matcham Society have organised talks in conjunction with the Victoria and Albert Museum Theatre and Performance Collections but, with current restrictions preventing us from meeting, this year we are very pleased to join forces with the Society of Theatre Research to provide an alternative means of sharing information and celebrating our historic built culture.

There is no charge for this talk, which is open to all via Zoom, but as places are limited you must register in advance. For full details and how to register see our flyer.





Thursday 16th July saw the 120th birthday of Matcham’s beautifully restored and cherished Gaiety Theatre, Douglas, Isle of Man. We were hoping to be with the theatre staff to celebrate the occasion but we have had to postpone the trip due to the current Covid19 restraints.

Although the Isle of Man borders are closed to all but essential travellers and indoor live performances are not permitted, the Gaiety has re-opened for Island residents to take guided tours of the building. Hopefully this is an encouraging sign that some of our own theatres may be able to do the same. Morecambe Winter Gardens has already started to allow small groups to visit the theatre.

Even so it will not be possible , or wise, for us to proceed next month with the visit to Buxton. Having already laid all the groundwork for this visit, it should be relatively easy for us to rearrange this for next year 2021. However, one piece of good news over the summer was that Buxton Opera House was asked to host filming of a promo for Russell Watson’s new album “20” and they have sent us the YouTube link to view it:




Message from our Chairman, Mark Fox:

“Today,30 April 2020, members should have been gathering for the first event of our planned Annual General Meeting weekend in London.

One of the Society’s plaques was due to be unveiled in the foyer of The London Palladium with a champagne reception and afternoon tea to follow.

Regrettably the current world situation has prevented us all from meeting but the plaque has been made and is in a safe place ready for the moment when we may be able to install it and celebrate together.

I would like to extend thanks to LW Theatres, Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, The Ambassadors Theatre Group, The Boulevard Theatre, The Club for Acts and Actors and the London Hippodrome and all of their staff who had made arrangements to entertain us over this weekend. Once any sort of normality returns to the theatre industry I am sure they will be more than willing for all our intended plans to happen on future dates so we can at least all look forward in hope.

Sorry that we cannot all be together to commemorate the centenary of Matcham’s death on 17 May but we can keep in touch through the website and social media. Just think how different and difficult it would have been in isolation twenty years ago without all this modern technology. Do keep in touch.

In the meantime keep well and I look forward to seeing you on the other side.”




We are living through strange and worrying times. The current world situation is unprecedented and affecting everyone in challenging ways.

Along with everyone else UK theatres were forced to close and The Frank Matcham Society by necessity took action to cancel and/or postpone all our planned activities to commemorate the centenary of Matcham’s death this year.

Despite those disappointments we are still able to carry on with support activities through our website and social media channels and our newsletters will be published as normal. The Frank Matcham Directory by Mike Sell has been published and distributed to members so they at least have some interesting reading whilst isolating.

Of course if you are not yet a member all this could be yours by clicking through to our JOIN page.

In the meantime our thoughts are not only with all our theatre and individual members struggling to make the best of a bad situation, but with all theatre operators and owners; creative, performance and support staff; deprived audience members; theatre enthusiasts and campaigners wherever you are.




Many of Matcham’s theatres are struggling to survive with little or no income, and some have launched funding appeals listed here:

ABERDEEN TIVOLI has a Just Giving crowdfunding page

BLACKPOOL GRAND has a Grand Recovery Fund

HACKNEY EMPIRE has a crowdfunder appeal

NEWCASTLE THEATRE ROYAL has a donations page

NOTTINGHAM THEATRE ROYAL has a donaions page


WAKEFIELD THEATRE ROYAL also has a donations page

…and theatres by others that have come to our attention and equally deserving of support:










Send us a message via our Contact page if yours is missing.

The Frank Matcham Society wishes you all continued good health. Keep following official advice and we will all survive this very difficult time. The show will go on.




The Frank Matcham Society arranges a programme of visits to theatres in the UK plus an international visit at least once a year. This is so that members, and occasionally their guests, may learn about, view and explore theatre history and architecture. Members unable to attend can read about these visits in the Newsletter. Scroll down the Previous Events page to watch the YouTube reviews of earlier visits.

Most of us also like to see a performance or two along the way – comedy, drama, opera and ballet – as our membership includes those with a wide range of interests and some that have worked in theatres and enjoy seeing a performance in the buildings designed for them.