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Theatre Royal


Said to be the oldest surviving purpose-built theatre in Scotland. The basic pitched-roofed shell of 1792 survives. Dignified two storey stucco facade by Phipps, with central doorway flanked by arched openings, which originally accessed the pit and balcony. Five small windows, divided by pilasters, under the eaves. In Phipps's delightful auditorium of 1876, the pit was as basement level. This was decked over at dress circle height around 1920 and the balcony rebuilt with a straight front, re-using the foliated iron balustrade of Phipps's dress circle. The Guild of players bought the building in 1959, saving it from demolition. The side walls of the auditorium are now plain, except for some frames added in 1959. The former pit became a store for costumes, props and scenery. In 2015 the theatre underwent major renovations to rationalise and improve the backstage and front of house areas, including a new theatre studio, media suite and meeting rooms.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1792 - 1909: then 1911-1954; and 1960 continuing
Current state
Current use
Theatre (amateur and receiving house)
66-68 Shakespeare Street, Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway, DG1 2JH, Scotland
Further details
Other names
Electric Theatre , New Theatre , Theatre Royal
  • 1792 Design/Construction:
    Thomas Boyd
    - Architect
  • 1792 Owner/Management: Messrs Williamson and Sutherland
  • 1792 - 1909 Use: then 1911-1954; and 1960 continuing
  • 1815 Owner/Management: John Macready
  • 1816 - 1909 Owner/Management: Many actor-managers
  • 1830 Alteration: stage enlarged (architect unknown).
  • 1876 Alteration: auditorium excavated and extended within existing walls; new front of house and façade added.
    C J Phipps
    - Architect
  • 1909 Owner/Management: Dumfries Electric Theatre Co (?); P & J Stobie, owners
  • 1920 Alteration: auditorium partitioned horizontally - circle retained for cinema, stalls converted to roller skating rink (architect unknown).
  • 1959 Owner/Management: Dumfries Guild of Players
  • 1959 Alteration: auditorium returned to theatre from cinema use.
    C Y Morton
    - Architect
  • 1959 Owner/Management: Mr Reekie, owner/manager (from when, unknown).
  • 1985 Alteration: stage enlarged, and apron/orchestra pit added.
    C Y Morton
    - Architect
  • 2015 Alteration: Major refurbishment and expansion
  • Capacity
  • Capacity
  • Capacity
    1876: 1,000
    1959: 219
  • Listing
Stage type
Flexible proscenium, flat, with apron/orchestra pit
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: w: 7.92m d: 6.7m apron 0.91m wings 2.44m SR and 1.22m SL
Proscenium width: 7.92m h: 4.57m
Height to grid: 5.18m
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: for 10