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#throwbackthursday for #theatreatrisk Scarborough Futurist! Photos of the original facade, currently concealed and the 2,000-seat auditorium


It is very sad to report that the Hulme Playhouse is up for sale at auction following a local report that the resident church was unable to meet its financial commitments.  This is the ex-BBC studio and ‘twin’ to the Hippodrome, joined together in one block but completely different internally.  The site is nearby huge university and college developments, but this appears to give no benefit to the community. The Frank Matcham Society recently visited and had been impressed by the Reverend Charles’ efforts bringing the building back into use. We must hope that there is another godfather out there, who will buy it; see auction details.



The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden has added an immersive 360° orchestra pit Guide to Our Orchestra with clickable views from and around the full orchestra conducted by ROH Music Director Antonio Pappano.  As well as choosing your viewpoint, you can also look at the auditorium.  It may be a little hesitant to load but try again.



ArchDaily has thirty cut-away drawings of concerts halls and theatres illustrating acoustics in auditoriums, should you wish to design your own, enjoy this building type, or just like to view building plans; Liverpool Everyman and London’s National Theatre included.  Also see their detailed article about the Hamburg, Herzog & de Meuron designed, Elbphilharmonie mentioned in a previous post.



Theatres Trust news page also mentions local reports that the fine Golders Green Hippodrome (Bertie Crewe 1913) has suddenly closed.  It had been in use by a well supported church group, but this use appears to have ceased and for sale by auction notices are affixed to the exterior apparently initiated by the Department for Communities and Local Government – curious.  The BBC had owned the property through the 1960’s and into the 1980’s when it was used for TV and Radio and as a base for its concert orchestra and it was well cared for.  More information in the Ham & High piece here.


Theatres Trust reports that the long hoped for Plymouth Palace restoration plan is in tatters as the charity has quit.  The Matchams visited in early 2016 and saw significant progress on this special place for the city, but apparently the finance ran out and the owner has taken back the property.  More information in the Plymouth Herald piece but no word yet on what happens next.


The Theatre Royal Wakefield (Frank Matcham 1894) is making progress towards funding the long planned extension for a studio theatre and more front of house facilities for this little wonder.  The project is described as the Centre for Creativity and further information is available online.



The Stage reports that Rep is returning to central Manchester after fifty years, with a planned conversion of the Great Northern Warehouse.  Meanwhile the Theatre Royal is just up the road, disused and awaiting deliberations of its owners who operate the hotel alongside that replaced the Free Trade Hall.



Matcham’s Shepherds Bush Empire, our favourite music venue, now owned and operated by Academy Music Group, continues it’s caring stewardship of the 1903 Grade II Listed theatre with an upgrade of the dressing rooms.  They have a good video worth viewing full screen on YouTube which also shows some nice views of the auditorium.


Our frequent travelers on cruise ships report that a recent shore excursion included the El Salvador National Theatre in the city of Acajutla when the Saga Sapphire docked there recently. The captain’s blog has a couple of nice photos.



The Royal Opera House website has an interesting story and good images of the set for Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur  which is a working model of a Baroque theatre based on the Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth. The Margravial is still closed for extensive restoration, but the Matchams visited the fascinating exhibition in the front of house on our international visit to Germany in May 2016.


Amongst other news on the Theatres Trust website update is the disappointing information that Historic England is to recommend that the local council be granted a Certificate of Immunity from Listing Frank Tugwell’s (Savoy London, & Theatre Royal in Harrogate and York – all listed) Scarborough Futurist theatre , which is essentially a developers get out of an ‘inconvenient’ planning hurdle.  The appeal period expires end February and TT is considering the next steps.  The council has approved costly demolition and shoring up of the cliff despite no firm application from the theme park operator.


A full planning application has now been submitted for Sprague’s Ambassadors in London’s Theatreland, to be renamed the Sondheim.  Under the enlightened ownership of Sir Cameron Mackintosh it is proposed to reconfigure the interior into a flexible space for West End transfers of alternative productions, something that cannot happen currently.  The decorative elements of the 1913 Edwardian Grade II Listed structure will be re-worked into enlarged public spaces and a rehearsal room added above.  See John Earl’s detailed Heritage Statement here and the Theatres Trust considered response to the application here.




We are delighted that our Patron Ken Dodd has been knighted in the New Year’s Honours list; arise Sir Ken!  We wish him, with Tim and Pru our long-time supporters, our very best wishes for 2017.


elbphilharmonie_imageflyer_de_coverFor those that like a concert hall, the Herzog & de Meuron designed Elbphilharmonie is finally opening in Hamburg in January 2017.  When you see the interior spaces within the extraordinary exterior on their website tour here and the fly through inside here (don’t miss the fast version by hitting the space bar) you might wonder if that is why Munich was talking about a rebuild of their Gasteig concert hall we saw on this year’s international visit.




2016_TheatresTrust_logo_150px_wideGoogle Arts & Culture, an offshoot of the infamous search engine, now has a ‘Theatres Lost & Saved’ section with images from the Theatres Trust Open Up! archive project recently completed.  Shed a tear for the lost ones gone forever as you scroll through the pages here.


Burnley Empire Trust logoAt last a little bit of good news for theatres in the North of England.  Burnley Empire was taken off sale by auction at the last minute after an agreement was reached between the local Trust and Duchy of Lancaster reports local 2BR and the Stage.  A viability study was due to be published in the following week. The Grade II listed G B Rawcliffe/Bertie Crewe theatre had gone up the Theatres at Risk list to number five.


auditoria-mag-1016captureAuditoria magazine Annual 2017 issue is available online and features one or two auditoriums that we know.  Plenty for front or back stage enthusiasts and use the zoom on the good quality images.




beforeshakespeare-logoOf special interest to those researching the birth of 16th century theatre and the earliest playhouses, is the Before Shakespeare project and blog, which also features a timeline of the period and some interesting links.  Our membership should note the Statute Against Vagabonds.


lma-logoFor the researchers amongst us, the London Metropolitan Archive has a large theatre collection (linked from our Research Links page here) and runs occasional free tours to see their work in action; more information and book here.


ntr-logoMatcham’s New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth has launched a series of ‘Behind the Curtain’ backstage tours monthly through to April 2017.  The Frank Matcham Society to dispatch a couple of undercover agents to sample it.


The-Stage-logoThe Stage is reporting curious developments in the Burnley Empire campaign, with the theatre apparently up for up for auction by the owners.  This is causing much concern locally with the Lancashire Telegraph calling it a ‘slap in the face’ here.




BBC News is reporting that excavations have uncovered the first and last theatres built in Elizabethan London and that they have achieved listed status.  They are thought to have been the Theatre and the Hope.   The Theatre of 1576-77 and in Hackney was by James Burbage and is thought to have been the first playhouse to feature Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The Stage has more detail in their piece here.


The-Stage-logoA back-stage fire at the Bertie Crewe Théâtre Mogador in Paris has put back the opening of Phantom of the Opera reports The Stage.  This 1913 beauty situated in the 9th Arrondissement underwent restoration in 1983 and the interiors can be seen on their website virtual tour; be sure to go to full screen.


2016_TheatresTrust_logo_150px_wideThe Theatres Trust interns have completed the cataloguing phase of their Open up! Archive Project to catalogue and share the collection of architectural plans of regional theatres, thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Can’t wait to see this online.


2016_TheatresTrust_logo_150px_wideThe Theatres Trust has announced its 10th annual Theatre Buildings at Risk Register.  Sadly there are six new entries, including three re-entries.  However, there is some progress in Brighton, Burnley and Kirkcaldy.  Read the press release and view the videos from Trustee Dara Ó Briain and some of the campaigns. Find out if you can offer your support and applaud these wonderful people.


cropped-FrankMatcham-plaqueiconv1.gif Slim pickings for theatre, cinema and other performance spaces this year at London Open House 17-18 September. The good news is that Matcham’s Hackney Empire, the National Theatre on the South Bank and Unicorn in Southwark will have tours. Also the Rio Dalston and Olympic Barnes cinemas will have tours in an otherwise unfortunate year for cinema heritage.  Check the Open House website nearer the dates in case more are added.


2016_TheatresTrust_logo_150px_wideThe Theatres Trust current News Digest reports some encouraging signs for the campaigns trying to prevent the loss and find a re-use for the Burnley Empire, Dudley Hippodrome and Bradford Odeon, proving that a cause is never lost until its gone.



Hulme-Hipp-ext1950sThe amazing Hulme Hippodrome in greater Manchester has been turned down by the local authority for Asset of Community Value status, which it surely was and could be again. Apparently restoration will be too costly and (unsaid) all the money is probably needed for the Granada site. Campaigners vow to fight on for their local treasure reports the Manchester Evening News. The Theatres Trust risk assessment is here.



Nottingham-ThRoyal-extMatcham and Phipps’ venerable Nottingham Theatre Royal two month project to update the front of house facilities of both the adjoining modern concert hall and the main house, is underway according to the local newspaper, the Nottingham Post.




Coronet NottingHillGateLondon’s Notting Hill Gate Coronet sleeping beauty by W G R Sprague, imaginatively revived and programmed by the Print Room, is booking for their excellent free tours in September.




savecrownCrown Theatre in Eccles greater Manchester is under imminent threat of total demolition and replacement by the usual bland six storeys of flats and retail; places to live but nowhere to go. See the Save The Crown campaign Facebook page and the Theatres Trust response to the planning authority.




O2 Shepherds Bush Empire 3Academy Music Group have kindly sent an image of the work in progress – now completed – at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. A photograph of the beautifully revived auditorium has been uploaded to our Photo Gallery. Both photos by Caitlin Mogridge and copyright O2 Shepherds Bush Empire.




EcclesCrownreduxThe Save the Crown Theatre Eccles campaign has launched a new petition to show support for re-use of this fine Grade II theatre. There’s not much left of old Eccles, and this building stands proudly on the gateway into Eccles town as the Eccles Lyceum Theatre Trust so rightly says. Support the campaign via this link.



O2Empire-extreduxProbably our favorite London music venue the O2 Empire, or as we know it Matcham’s Shepherds Bush Empire, has reopened after a lengthy period of repair and upgrade. Keeping outer London borough theatres open is vital after so many losses from previous less enlightened times. Read the Empire General Manager’s update via this link.



Burnley Empire Trust logoBurnley Empire is the town’s last and only remaining Victorian theatre and with an interior by Bertie Crewe. A local Trust is working with local authorities and The Theatres Trust to raise enough funds to schedule a viability study. The Empire is in need of urgent repair and restoration. See the Crowdfunder page and find out how to raise awareness of this theatre’s plight.


BBC2 logoThe “Hairy Builder” series which follows the restoration of historic properties and shown on BBC 2 this week featured Wilton’s Music Hall in London. If you missed it, It can be watched on BBC iPlayer here.


The-Stage-logoThe Stage newspaper is running a feature about us under the headline “The Archive: Preserving the work of master builder Frank Matcham” If you haven’t come here from the link at the foot of the article by Nick Smurthwaite, then follow this link. The online version may require free registration or sign up for the full paid edition. Always a good read about theatre and its people.


cropped-FrankMatcham-plaqueiconv1.gifThe Mail Online has published a series of interior photos by Adam Slater of Hulme Hippodrome showing the current state of gradual dilapidation of this, perhaps the most beautiful theatre interior in Greater Manchester. The project to rescue it for community use appears to be stalled but see the local SAVE HULME Hippodrome Facebook page via our Theatres At Risk page and the Theatres Trust Theatres at Risk fact sheet for the Hippodrome.


nla-logoThe New London Architecture (NLA) group’s CULTURE & COMMUNITY Award Winner 2016 is the new Fly Tower roof extension at the Shaftesbury Theatre, WC2 by Bennetts Associates for Shaftesbury Theatre and The Theatre of Comedy Company – see the short list here. Also featured in the ABTT Sightline magazine recently.


2016_TheatresTrust_logo_150px_wideThe Theatres Trust Summer 2016 edition of Theatres Magazine has a feature “Managing Matchams” about the particular challenges facing historic theatres, with an introduction by Rupert Rhymes and contributions from Southsea Kings & The Big Project fundraiser, and Blackpool Grand, surely two of everyone’s favourites by the greatest of all theatre architects say we.


2016_TheatresTrust_logo_150px_wideThe Theatres Trust announces that Mhora Samuel is stepping down from the Trust as its Director after 10 years in the role. Rebecca Morland, currently the Trust’s Theatres Adviser, is to take up the role of acting Director pending the recruitment of a new Director.


HE logoNumber two on Historic England’s “Ten of the Best Gin Palaces to Celebrate Gin Day” is The Tottenham, 6 Oxford Street, London W1 listed Grade II*. When the Tottenham was built it was located a few doors down from the Oxford Street Music Hall (1893 Wylson & Long) and there is something of the palace of varieties about its interior. It is one of the best-preserved pubs in London. No direct connection with Frank Matcham, but the painted panels in its fabulous interior are by one of his favourite decorators Felix de Jong & Co. Raise a glass if you visit!


Celebrity patrons actress LKings Big Project logoisa Riley, comedian Hugh Dennis, stage star Dillie Keane and singer Anita Harris have joined forces to support “Pounds for Pennies”, a campaign for The King’s Theatre Southsea which will enable the refurbishment of toilets for the venue’s Dress Circle. See the video and Crowdfunder page here.


2016_TheatresTrust_logo_150px_wideThe Theatres Trust announces a Heritage Lottery Fund Sharing Heritage grant towards the cost of its “Open up! Cataloguing our Regional Theatres Architectural Archive” project. This will allow them to catalogue their collection of architectural drawings of regional theatres. Over 5,000 drawings covering 280 different theatres will be available to search by the end of the project, and to further open up the collections to those with an interest in the UK’s theatrical heritage, including the passionate groups trying to save and reopen theatre buildings, theatre managers, architects and dedicated theatregoers.


STRnrnlogoThe New Researcher’s Network wing of the Society for Theatre Research annual Symposium on the theme of Innovation in Performance History and Practice is on 6 July at Bristol University. STR members free admission and reduced charge for non-members attending. Bristol University is known for its Theatre and Performance Studies and the associated Theatre Collection which is one of the largest on British theatre. Full details of the NRN Symposium via this link.



Kings Big Project logoThe Kings Southsea has launched a fund raising drive for The Big Project, building on their success
of the last 15 years, the King’s Theatre’s Big Project is a programme of restoration
and development of both its Matcham theatre buildings and events programme.
See more about this via the link here.


2016_TheatresTrust_logo The Theatres Trust announced Theatres Trust At 40 to celebrate their anniversary and a renewed commitment
for the protection of theatres with a new strategy and visual identity and the launch of Theatres Trust 40 programme of events.
Find out more with this link here.


Zaha-Hadid-theatredesignThere’ll never be another like her; Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, DBE, RA. Scroll through the photos here and see the cutaways.




Watch Tim and Pru, our valiant patrons, exploring Stockholm’s beautiful early Drottningholm Palace theatre
on one of their canal journeys on Channel 4. Replay link here.



The-Stage-logo“Last chance saloon” for the Burnley Empire reports The Stage of the viability study and local campaign.



See the new call to action by the Save the Crown Eccles campaign. Link here to run the slide show.
Greater Manchester needs these theatres to rebuild its communities.



Archiod-logoRecently launched, Archiod is an online documentary channel specialising in architecture.
Fellner & Helmer in the pipeline. Link here for more information.


tt-logo-smallEight years on the Theatres Trust At Risk register, the Grade II listed Burnley Empire, by G B Rawcliffe and later Bertie Crewe,
is to benefit from a viability study with help from Burnley Council following the formation of a local campaign group Burnley Empire Theatre Trust see press release link here. More on Burnley theatres on the Arthur Lloyd theatre resource website link here.


Vic-Palace-ext2014web See the beautifully illustrated Victoria Palace theatre Heritage Statement prepared by our own Mark Price for the Theatres Trust follow link here.
The Theatres Trust news item with a link to the full planning application papers to the City of Westminster can be seen via this link here.




BuzzFeed is featuring the work of Klaus Frahm photographing some of Germany’s most beautiful theatres,
and some of our international visit venues follow link here.


See the video by Enigma Eye of the work in progress at the Palace Plymouth, one of our March visit venues.
Play the YouTube clip link here.