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Royal Court Liverpool


Built in 1938, the Royal Court was designed in the modernistic art deco style of the period after a fire destroyed an earlier building in 1933. On a corner site, the elevations are red brick with dressings of Aberdeen granite. It is housed over four storeys with an attic. The facade has a rectilinear pattern with horizontal banding in brick and fluted stone and vertical brick ribs with grouped pairs of windows on all levels. At attic level there is a fluted stone parapet.
The original box office, paved with San Stefano marble bordered with green and black Issorie marble, and walls panelled in walnut, is now a multi-purpose space. Below was a basement lounge and bar - said to be a replica of the main lounge on the Queen Mary. A nautical theme ran through the design, in keeping with the traditions of the city. The curved staircase had a dado of panelled ash and a decorative balustrade. Originally all areas were lit with concealed lighting.
The auditorium comprises stalls, grand circle and balcony and is richly decorated. The proscenium is gilded with delicate plaster ornament; coffered sounding board over a splayed ante-proscenium, containing a box at first floor level each side with its front extended to the circle by a curved bay. Shallow curved circle fronts. The ceiling is curved in a series of arches with concealed lighting. The stage with original revolve and flies remains.
2012 saw the theatre embark on a series of phased works by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris to restore and redevelop the theatre, to improve theatre facilities and the visitor experience. Work to the auditorium included repainting it matt-black with gold embellished detailing to the ceiling and proscenium. New seating was installed within the grand circle and balcony with improved sightlines. The stalls have been remodeled, with new seating and tables in a cabaret style for dining.
The second stage of redevelopment was completed in 2016, focused on the front and back of house areas, improving the poor visitor experience entering and around the theatre at ground floor level, including a foyer extension, a new stage door entrance, larger green room and large screen looking out on to Queen Street to replace former front of house posters. The extension fills the space previously occupied by the canopy, and houses the new box office. On top of the extension is a terrace for the redeveloped first floor bar. The toilet facilities have been moved to the old bar and storage area while the theatre’s finance office has been converted into a beer cellar.
The third and fourth phases of the building’s redevelopment created a new 150-seat studio space in the existing basement and added a larger bar on the third and fourth floors, and opened a café next door. The Penny Farthing public house, purchased in 2015, and next door to the theatre, opened in autumn 2017 as the Courtyard Bar & Kitchen to supplement pre-show food provision.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1938 - 1997
Current state
Current use
Theatre (theatre, music, comedy)
1 Roe Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1HL, England
Further details
Other names
Royal Court Theatre
  • Owner/Management: Robert Arthur Theatre Co, owners
  • Owner/Management: Howard & Wyndham Ltd, props, later owners
  • Owner/Management: Royal Court Theatre & Arts Trust, lessees
  • 1938 Design/Construction:
    James B Hutchins
    - Architect
  • 1938 Design/Construction:
    Cohen & Sons (London)
    - Consultant
    interior decoration and furnishings
  • 1938 - 1997 Use:
  • 1972 Alteration: projection box built and films introduced
    - Architect
  • 1976 Owner/Management: Merseyside County Council, owners
  • 1980 Owner/Management: Douglas Entertainments Co, lessees
  • 1997 Alteration: major refurbishment
    - Architect
  • 2012 Alteration: major redevelopment, ongoing
    Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
    - Architect
  • Capacity
  • Capacity
  • Listing
Stage type
Proscenium. Flat
Building dimensions: 142ft (Roe Street) x 82ft (Great Charlotte Street)
Stage dimensions: Depth: 1938: 45ft 1997: 12.18m Width 1938: 62ft 1997 SL: 9.45m SR: 12.5m
Proscenium width: 8.74m
Height to grid: 1997: 17.97m
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: Original 15-55. Area 30 sq m. 2.44 in front of stage