Terry’s Magical Theatre Tour

FRANK MATCHAM SOCIETY Zoom Event: Terry’s Magical Theatre Tour, with Terry Davies & Richard Norman: Thursday 25th November 2021 at 4.00pm UK time. Free and open to all via

Come on a magical mystery tour of world theatres with Terry Davis as he selects from his vast collection of over 2,000 photographs and film clips, images of some of his favourite theatres and performance spaces he has visited around the world. Terry’s talk will cover foreign theatre styles, customs and cultures that make them, in some instances, so vastly different from a theatre experience in the UK.




Belfast Grand Opera House pre restoration

FRANK MATCHAM SOCIETY Zoom Event: The GRAND OPERA HOUSE Belfast, its history and restoration, with Simon Goldrick & Peter Ruthven Hall: Monday 25th October 2021 at 4.00pm UK time. Free and open to all via

This year’s talk is the fifth in a series arranged by the Frank Matcham Society annually to mark ‘European Historic Theatres Day’. European Historic Theatres Day was established in 2017 by Perspectiv, the Association of Historic Theatres in Europe to highlight the work and achievements of historic venues across the continent.




FRANK MATCHAM SOCIETY Zoom Event: Tuesday 14 September 7pm UK time. Free and open to all.

Chatsworth Theatre : image Chatsworth Players

LOUISE CALF – The Theatre at Chatsworth House

Louise is working collaboratively with the University of York and Chatsworth House Trust, researching the theatre at Chatsworth. She will share some of her research on Chatsworth’s theatre before and beyond its Royal patronage. In anticipation of our planned visit in 2022, this will be the perfect introduction to Chatsworth’s theatre space, physical stage and scenery.




FRANK MATCHAM SOCIETY Zoom Event: Tuesday 22 June 7pm free and open to all.

Brighton Hippodrome 1897: In 1902 as a music hall under the vast circular tented (plaster) ceiling.

DAVID FISHER – The Brighton Hippodrome

David Fisher has been involved with the project seeking to restore Brighton Hippodrome as the full-scale lyric theatre first created by Frank Matcham in 1901. His research has not only discovered that part of the building dates back to the 1780s but that the 1902 modifications to convert Matcham’s circus-theatre into a variety house were by Bertie Crewe (sorry, Matcham fans).

Grade II* listed and number one on the Theatres Trust’s register of Theatres at Risk for the past eight years, the Hippodrome’s future hangs in the balance. David Fisher’s heavily illustrated and detailed account of its history shows why he and colleagues have continued to work for its restoration as ‘the UK’s most architecturally significant circus theatre—the finest surviving example of its type in the country’.



FRANK MATCHAM SOCIETY Online Zoom Event Tue 20 July 2021 3.45pm for 4.00pm free and open to all.

Burnley Empire by Ben Hamlem at North Films, 2019.

CLAIRE APPLEBY – Theatres at Risk Register
Claire is Architecture Advisor to the Theatres Trust. For 14 years the Theatres Trust have announced an annual list of the theatre buildings most at risk from closure, irreversible changes or demolition. The Brighton Hippodrome has been at the head of the list for several years but the scheme has been responsible for highlighting many buildings to a wider public and aiding them to make positive steps towards restoration and re-opening through its support from its team of advisors and through grant aid through its Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme.

Claire will talk us through the list of theatres included in 2021 following a particularly difficult year for all venues. She will highlight successes and losses and, most importantly, where there is hope of revival. For this meeting we will also be joining forces with The Friends of the Theatre Trust in recognition of the links between our two organisations.






Previously, Thursday 16th July 2020 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 had closed to all but essential travellers and indoor live performances were not permitted, the Gaiety re-opened for Island residents to take guided tours of the building.

We are currently reviewing when we will be able to rearrange this and the visit to Buxton. Having already laid all the groundwork, it should be relatively easy for us to rearrange these for late 2021. However, one piece of good news over last 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:


Along with everyone else, UK theatres were forced to close in 2020 and The Frank Matcham Society by necessity took action to cancel and/or postpone all of our planned activities to commemorate the centenary of Matcham’s death.

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 had some interesting reading whilst isolating. The second edition hardback version is almost ready to launch when the time is right.

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. The good news is that theatres are now re-opening for the first time since they were forced to close many months ago. Larger theatres are beginning to announce opening dates in the hope that progress towards the Government roadmap targets will allow them to open with 100% of seats on sale later this summer and Autumn.





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.