Royal Opera House
The building had a short-lived predecessor, the Charles Adnams Grand Circus, housed in a wooden building which opened in 1876. It was rebuilt the following year as a brick structure designed by John Petch. This building lasted as a circus and music hall until February 1908 when it was demolished apart from the outer walls and a series of cast iron columns. Local architect Frank Tugwell (architect of the Futurist) designed the final building which opened in 1908. The foyer block was separate from the auditorium and possibly of a different date. It may originally have been a terrace of three houses. The left hand one formed the foyer which linked through to the auditorium; above were flats. The auditorium was on three levels, seating 970. The layout of the three boxes either side of the proscenium was most unusual with two at dress circle level and the major one suspended above the stalls. The circle was high above the stalls giving unusually good sightlines from the rear stalls. There were twenty-one rows of seats in the stalls, seven in the dress circle and three in the balcony which had been reduced in size. The circle had a horseshoe form with a restrained scroll and tasselled decoration. The balcony was serpentine in shape with straight slips returned to the proscenium wall. The proscenium was segmentally arched and richly decorated with scrolls, groups of cherubs and a central cartouche containing horses’ heads, recalling the early circus use and Hippodrome name. The circles were partly cantilevered with one supporting pillar at stalls and circle levels. Sightlines were excellent throughout. The ceiling was plain and simply panelled. Refurbished and reroofed in 1976, the Royal Opera House was in good condition in 1994 but flooded and left rotting by 1998 as the result of neglect, arson and vandalism. The theatre became one of the most important ‘sleeping beauties’ in the country but lack of action and restoration meant that the listed building was demolished in 2004. A casino now stands on the site.
- 1877 Design/Construction:John Petch- Architect
- 1908 Alteration: almost completely rebuiltFrank Tugwell- Architect
- 1976 Alteration: refurbished; re-roofed; bar added at rearDennis Hitch- Architect
- 2004 Demolition:
- CapacityLaterDescription1908: 2000