Theatre Royal

604

The Theatre Royal is Manchester’s oldest surviving theatre building. Built in 1845 on an island site, it is an impressive building in Classical style. The giant recessed portico with fluted Corinthian columns dominates Peter Street. The monumental facade is one of the finest examples of theatre architecture to have survived in Britain from the first half of the nineteenth century. It is symmetrical, stuccoed, in three unequal bays with three storeys and an attic. The modillioned cornice is treated as a parapet, and gabled in the centre. The portico contains three steps to three altered doorways, with a pedimented aedicule in the centre with a Carrara marble statue of Shakespeare leaning on a pedestal. The entablature bears a frieze inscribed ‘Theatre Royal Erected 1845’. The facade of the Theatre Royal, as well as Cockerell’s banks were clearly a source of inspiration for Richardson and his partners when designing the front of the Royal Opera House in London. A massive water tank was incorporated into the roof in case of fire. Originally with three curved balconies culminating at proscenium boxes, and designed for drama and opera, in 1921 the auditorium was remodelled as a cinema. From this time it had two balconies, connected to an elaborate proscenium arch by balcony slips. The ornate ceiling, now not easily visible, has deeply coved sides and basketwork enrichment reminiscent of Covent Garden. In 1972, the building took on a new lease of life as a bingo hall and, following conversion to a nightclub in the 1990s, various lighting bridges and gantries were added. The 1845 facade is virtually intact, and the building retains many internal features of interest and warrants further investigation to its significance, including the importance of its stage machinery which is understood to have survived. The internal conversion to nightclub use obscured rather than destroyed the theatre interior, which appears to be capable of restoration. The former theatre ceased use as a nightclub in 2009 and is now vacant. It was bought by the Edwardian Hotel Group for redevelopment in 2012, but a use is yet to be decided.

Built / Converted
1845
Dates of use
  • 1845 - 1921: Theatre
  • 1921 - 1972: Cinema
  • 1972 - 1990: Bingo
  • 1990 - 2009: Nightclub
Current state
Extant
Current use
Disused (currently at risk)
Address
Peter Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M2 3NQ, England
Website-
Further details
Other names
Royal Cinema , Royal Bingo , Royale
Events
  • 1845 Design/Construction:
    John Gould Irwin & Francis Chester
    - Architect
  • 1845 Owner/Management: John Knowles, owner
  • 1845 - 1921 Use: Theatre
  • 1875 Alteration: interior reconstructed
    Edward Salomons
    - Architect
  • 1921 Alteration: interior reconstructed as cinema
    Unknown
    - Architect
  • 1921 Owner/Management: John Pollock, owner
  • 1921 - 1972 Use: Cinema
  • 1926 Owner/Management: Paramount, lessee
  • 1935 Owner/Management: Independent, owner
  • 1963 Alteration: converted for Cinerama
    Unknown
    - Architect
  • 1972 Alteration: converted to bingo
    Unknown
    - Architect
  • 1972 - 1990 Use: Bingo
  • 1989 Alteration: converted to nightclub
    G N Design
    - Architect
  • 1990 - 1999 Owner/Management: First Leisure
  • 1990 - 2009 Use: Nightclub
  • 2011 Owner/Management: Benmore Group
  • 2012 Owner/Management: Purchased by Edwardian Group
Capacities
  • Capacity
    Later
    Description
    1935: 1943
    1963: 1073
Listings
  • Listing
    II
Stage type
-
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: Depth 1875: 50ft
Proscenium width: -
Height to grid: -
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: None now