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Preston Playhouse


Built as a Friends Meeting House (Quakers) in 1847, the main building is of red brick construction with stone dressings and parapet. The front facing wall is 12m high and features 5 timber, double-hung, circular headed, sliding sash windows each 6m x 1.5m. Along one side of the main building, at right angles, is a single storey brick built foyer featuring a stepped parapet to the main entrance. Parking and courtyard to the front, concrete tiled roof and access and storage to the rear. The main foyer houses the Box Office desk and interval refreshments are served in this area. There is also a bar and lounge which doubles as a rehearsal room.

The auditorium measures 12m x 15m with a ceiling height of 13m. It is simply decorated, featuring raised Greek-key dado. Splayed proscenium arch in the Moderne style and deep maroon House Curtain with 2 gold letter P’s. The red upholstered seating is set out in 7 rows on a flat level, with side aisles and a 3m space from the front row to the apron. Behind the 7th row is 1.5m aisle from the entrance doors which connects the 2 side aisles. At a mezzanine level, to one side of the rear seats, is a Control Room with up to date lighting and sound desks, including attendant amplifiers. The audio playing equipment includes computerised reproduction facilities. Above the Control Room are 2 follow-spotlights. A hard wire communication system connects Control Room and stage.

There is a central stage lighting bar above the seating and fittings for stage lighting on each side wall of the auditorium. An audio loop system is fitted. The stage has good wing space and is served by 11 overhead lifting bars. One of these is dedicated to the House Curtain and 2 others to lighting facilities. The remainder are available for hanging or flying of curtains and/or scenery. Offstage is a Green Room, 2 large and 2 small Dressing Rooms. A large rehearsal room also serves as a dressing room for large cast productions such as pantomime. Wardrobe and other storage spaces are located in the main building, with scenery storage and workshops in separate buildings in the rear yard.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1949 : Theatre
Current state
Current use
Market Street West, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2HB, England
Further details
Other names
Friends Meeting House , Columba's Dance Hall , Army Records Office
  • 1847 Design/Construction: Built as a Friends Meeting House
  • 1847 - 1924 Owner/Management:
    The Society Of Friends
    - Owner
  • 1924 Alteration: Converted to dance hall
  • 1924 - 1939 Owner/Management:
    The Knights Of St. Colomba
    - Owner
  • 1935 Alteration: Box office entrance and foyer built
  • 1939 - 1946 Owner/Management:
    The War Department
    - Owner
  • 1946 Owner/Management: Current owners
    Preston Playhouse Ltd
    - Owner
  • 1946 - 1995 Owner/Management:
    Preston Playhouse Ltd
    - Manager
  • 1947 - 1949 Alteration: Converted to theatre. Stage and proscenium arch built. New ceiling installed. Seating fitted. Ante-rooms converted to Green Room and toilets
    Isaac Spencer And Son Preston
    - Builder
  • 1949 Use: Theatre
  • 1965 Alteration: Balcony converted to wardrobe and rehersal room
  • 1995 Owner/Management: Current Manager
    Preston Little Theatre Company Ltd
    - Manager
  • Capacity
  • Capacity
    from 1965
Stage type
Proscenium - with apron; No rake
Building dimensions: 460 metres squared
Stage dimensions: w 7 .66m x d 6m; depth of apron 1m
Proscenium width: -
Height to grid: 4m
Inside proscenium: 5m
Orchestra pit: None