Skip to main content

Harrogate Theatre (Grand Opera House)


A delightfully intimate theatre, very well suited to its present role as a repertory playhouse in this attractive Victorian Spa town. The exterior has a four-storeyed octagonal tower at the apex of the site, with the steeply pitched roof and illuminated leaded light cupola bearing the inscription ‘Grand Opera’. The site is wedge-shaped at the acute-angled junction of two streets. The stage is at the wide end, with an irregularly shaped rear wall, and the side walls of the auditorium converge towards the back. There are two serpentine-fronted balconies and two boxes either side at each level, divided by delicate pilasters and surmounted by broken scrolled pediments. Balcony and box fronts richly decorated by cartouches supported by putti, garlands etc. Rectangular acanthus leaf bracketed proscenium surmounted by a central cartouche containing a lyre. Central part of the ceiling carried up into a dome. Intimate foyer with richly modelled plaster freize by F Darlington depicting the development of arts through the ages (‘The rehearsal of a Mystery Play’, ‘The Invocation of Terpsichore’, etc). In 1972 a major scheme of refurbishment was carried out by Roderick Ham & Partners, including reseating and the reduction of the gallery to two rows and the insertion of a control room in the upper circle. The total capacity was reduced from 797 to 475. At the same time front of house and dressing rooms were reorganised and updated. In 2007 the auditorium was again refurbished. This phase of refurbishment continued in 2008 with work to the stalls bar, box office and public stairwells which included accessibility improvements and the adoption of the original colour scheme in the foyer. In 2009 the Circle Bar was renovated and many of its original features restored. The theatre still possesses many of its original front of house fixtures and fittings, all too rare a feature today. The intimacy of the foyers gives the place an almost domestic quality which is endearing.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1900 : (continuing) as theatre
Current state
Current use
Oxford Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 1QF, England
Further details
Other names
Opera House
  • 1900 Design/Construction:
    F Darlington
    - Consultant
    plaster frieze in foyer
  • 1900 Design/Construction:
    Frank Tugwell
    - Architect
  • 1900 Use: (continuing) as theatre
  • 1972 Alteration: refurbished
    Roderick Ham & Partners
    - Architect
  • 2007 - 2009 Alteration: Refurbishment of auditorium and front of house
  • Capacity
    1971: 707
    1972: 475
  • Capacity
  • Listing
Stage type
Proscenium raked
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: -
Proscenium width: 7.9m
Height to grid: 13.72m
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: -