Lawrence Batley Theatre
The building was formerly a Wesleyan chapel, built in 1819 by Joseph Kaye. It is not completely clear whether Kaye was architect or builder but he should not, in any case, be confused with the Joseph Kay (no ‘e’) who was surveyor to Greenwich Hospital and author of St Mary-in-the-Castle, Hastings.
It ceased to be a chapel in 1970 and became an arts centre from 1973 to 1975, a minimal conversion which closed down in need of substantial repair works. It then served from 1978 as a squash club and disco. Conversion to the present theatre took place in 1994.
The front is set back behind a square courtyard. It has a seven-bay ashlar stone classical front with a Venetian window contained within a big arched opening above the tetrastyle Doric entrance porch.
The internal conversion is successful and the auditorium, in particular, is a pleasing interpretation of traditional ‘ad quadratum’ geometry. The auditorium is on three levels with straight-sided balconies. Auditorium lifts permit a variety of configurations dictated by the brief (possibly too many for long-term economy and convenience) and the effective capacity depends partly on the effect each arrangement has on sightlines. The original plan of the chapel dictates that not only the auditorium but the back wall of the stage are convex-curved on plan. The technical apparatus and ventilation ducts are all frankly exposed to view.
There is a Cellar Theatre or cabaret space in the basement.
- 1994 : continuing
- 1819 Design/Construction: as Wesleyan ChapelJoseph Kaye- Architect
- 1994 Use: continuing
- 1994 Alteration: conversion to theatreDesign Practice of Kirklees- Architect
- 1994 Design/Construction:
- 1994 Owner/Management: Kirklees Theatre Trust, (?) lessees
- CapacityLaterDescription423 to 477 depending on configuration
- CapacityCurrentDescription477; Cellar 150; Attic 100
- ListingII*Comment9.1978 (II 6.1975)