Royal Victoria Hall
The theatre was built as a result of a gift of the late Sir David Salomons, and opened in 1900 to provide theatrical and other rational amusements to people who could not afford to go to theatres in the adjoining towns. It was supported by Southborough Urban District Council whose surveyor designed it, but it was said that ‘the plans were really Sir David’s own’. A national journal described it at the time as ‘the only municipal theatre in England’ and it is particularly interesting as probably the first civic theatre. A red brick, rectangular building with a low fly tower and, originally, a chapel-like facade set back from the road. It later received a plain forward extension, with a curved gable bearing a resited date stone reading ‘1897’ and the inscription, ROYAL VICTORIA HALL. A pretty cast iron porch was removed (and purchased by a Councillor who thought its removal regrettable) and replaced by 'modern' canopy. The auditorium was designed with a scenic stage, permanent seating in a straight-across end balcony (on two decorative columns) and a flat floor. Square reeded proscenium arch with decorative panels featuring swags and drops either side. Panelled dado with red flock wall paper above reaching to deep plain coving and decorative ventilation grilles. Reasonable stage with dressing room facilities behind. The alterations to the entrance, the provision of a new box office and the insertion of a bar running the full length of the hall occurred in 1977-1979. Although a multi-purpose hall, run by the local authority, it was licensed for stage plays and authorised to use the Royal coat of arms from the beginning. Southborough Town Council can no longer afford to subsidise this practical and popular venue, which was used by both professionals and amateurs. The theatre closed on 5th January 2015 and demolition began in 2017. There are plans to replace the venue with a community hub.
- 1900 - 2015: Theatre
- 1900 Design/Construction:William Harmer (Council Surveyor) with Sir David Salomons- Architect
- 1900 Design/Construction:Suggs- Consultantgas fittingsMaple & Co- Consultantfurnishings and fabricsW Reading & J B & H Drury- ConsultantsceneryW Reading- Consultantdrop curtain and stage trap
- 1900 Owner/Management: Southborough Urban District Council/Southborough Town Council
- 1900 - 2015 Use: Theatre
- 1977 - 1979 Alteration: Array altered internally and façade modernisedUnknown- Architect
- 2017 Demolition:
- CapacityOriginalDescription600Comment'Over 600'
- CapacityCurrentDescription360Comment2015; seated
- ListingNot listed