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The Lyceum is one of the most spectacularly re-awakened of the Curtains (1982) ‘sleeping beauties’. It is also the only completely surviving Sprague theatre in the regions. Sprague was responsible for some of the most beautiful theatres in London (e.g. Wyndham’s, the Albery, the Globe, the Strand) and the Lyceum is worthy to be set beside any of these. Built in 1897 on the site of the City Theatre (1893), this is a free-standing building with an emphasized corner-block topped by a domed tower, originally containing the main entrance, a feature in common with some of the architect’s London theatres. The auditorium is very fine, with superb Rococo plasterwork. Two slightly curved cantilever balconies; unusual treatment of the side walls, which are articulated by broad pilasters at each level, forming bays containing bow-fronted boxes. All the surfaces are enlivened by delicate plasterwork and at dress circle level the pilasters have attached coupled columns. The proscenium has a rectangular moulded frame which encloses a riotous Rococo openwork plaster valance along the top, in the corners and spreading halfway down the sides. Coved and panelled ceiling with fine plasterwork. The Lyceum closed in 1968 and became a bingo house. Bingo failed in 1972. An application to demolish was then made by the owners but was refused on appeal. The building was subsequently offered for sale without result. Proposals in 1981 for a popular music venue and discotheque were granted planning permission but did not proceed. A Lyceum Theatre Trust had been formed in 1975 but progress was slow, due in part to the ambivalence of the City Council, which had built the immediately adjoining Crucible (RHWL’s first theatre) in 1971. In the late 1980s the Lyceum was still dark and (thanks to precautionary action taken to arrest rapid deterioration) smelling of dry rot fluid. The climate changed in 1990 when the World Student Games were allocated to Sheffield. An ambitious programme of restoration and improvement was set in action which embraced not only the theatre but an adjoining cleared space, to be known as Theatre Square, defined by the two theatres and neighbouring properties. Work was completed and the theatre reopened in December 1990. The upgrading of the theatre, which is now run jointly with the Crucible, was impressive. The main entrance was moved from the front corner tower to the long elevation facing the new square and major additions were made at side and rear containing a new stagehouse and rehearsal space, improved dressing rooms (for 108), education department, passenger lifts, etc. The auditorium was magnificently restored with a colour scheme appropriate to Sprague’s manner (more architecturally disciplined than Matcham’s but far from solemn) and with a painted safety curtain. The new internal public spaces were decorated in a pleasing Deco-inspired manner, contrasting but chiming well with Sprague’s busier ornament. From July-October 2014 the theatre closed to undergo a £1.9m refurbishment of the foyers, bar and auditorium which included replacement of the balcony seating. The refurbishment also saw the installation of an air cooling system and solar panels were added to the roof.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
Current state
Current use
Theatre (used for pop concerts and bingo mid 1960s to 1968)
Tudor Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 2LA, England
Further details
Other names
  • 1897 Design/Construction:
    W G R Sprague
    - Architect
  • 1908 Owner/Management: Sheffield Lyceum Co; John Hart, managing director
  • 1946 Owner/Management: Sheffield Lyceum Theatre Ltd; J Beaumont, managing director
  • 1990 Alteration: theatre restored with major additions
    - Architect
  • 1990 Design/Construction:
    Clare Ferraby
    - Consultant
    decorations and colour consultant
  • 1990 Owner/Management: Sheffield City Council, owners; Sheffield Theatres Ltd, manager
  • 2014 Alteration: Auditorium and front of house refurbishment
  • Capacity
    circa 3000
  • Capacity
    1946: 1820
    1948: 1719
    1950: 1286
    1990: 1130
  • Capacity
  • Listing
Stage type
Proscenium Rake 1:30
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: Depth: 11.8m
Proscenium width: 8.6m (28ft 6in)
Height to grid: 20m
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: Original 16
Now flexible, forestage lift