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Ryde Theatre


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. Built of coursed stone cut in imitation of bricks, the ground floor has a portico built across the pavement consisting of four round Doric columns flanked by two heavy flattened, cemented and rusticated archways. There is a similar portico on the first floor consisting of four Ionic columns with iron railings flanked by two small solid portions. Behind the first floor portico there are three large sash windows in architrave surrounds and on the ground floor three round-headed doorways with semi-circular fanlights. The corners have wrap round Doric pilasters, Greek Key frieze and cornice. Originally the Town Hall formed the centre of the building on the first floor, the ground floor forming the market house. Changes took place on the ground floor as market use decreased. A larger hall was built by the local architect Francis Newman and completed in 1869. At the same time Thomas Dashwood completed the magnificent central clock tower with a clock face each side surmounted by a cupola of eight composite columns with a copper dome crowned by a weathervane. 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. In 1933 the Town Hall was severely damaged by fire but reopened in 1934. In 1990 alterations were carried out by Nigel Hayton to convert the upper floors of the building to a theatre which opened in March 1991 as the Ryde Theatre/Cinema. The cinema closed after two years. The theatre auditorium was reminiscent of an early cinema, with Edwardian plaster design and mahogany doors. A raked balcony was inserted to increase the capacity, to give more the air of a theatre, and to hold a sound and projection box and refurbished dressing rooms. The stage was small with a curtained proscenium stage. In February 2005 Ryde Theatre was temporarily closed after dangerous cracks were found in the window beneath the clock tower. Later it became a music venue but closed in 2010. A new owner was found in 2013 and the theatre is now dark as further refurbishments to its bar areas are planned.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1934 - 1990: 1991 - 2010
Current state
Current use
Dark (planning permission gained July 2015)
Lind Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 2NL, England
Further details
Other names
Market House & Town Hall , Town Hall
  • 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 Alteration: repaired and refurbished following fire (architect unknown).
  • 1934 - 1990 Use: 1991 - 2010
  • 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
  • 2013 Owner/Management: Isle of Wight Council
  • 2013 Owner/Management: Phantom Productions
  • Capacity
    1910: 630
    1992: 502
  • Listing
Stage type
Pros flat
Building 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
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: None