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The Kings Theatre


Sited between two converging roads with the entrance at the apex, dominated by a hexagonal tower with a steeply pitched roof surmounted by a cupola. The auditorium has three well curved balconies and is intimate for its large capacity. The first and second balconies abut two superimposed stage boxes on each side. The lower boxes have arched canopies which also form the fronts of the boxes above. These are framed by squat Ionic columns and are backed by shell-hooded niches. The gallery front curves directly into the walls and is separated from the stage boxes on each side by a further large shell-hooded niche (a favourite Matcham decorative motif). The ceiling is in two sections - a flat lower part spanning between the stage boxes, and a large oval saucer-dome at a higher level, decorated with six painted panels. The proscenium is segmentally-arched with an enriched plaster outer frame and an inner frame of alabaster. That the King’s is ‘late Matcham’ is apparent in the heavy modelling of the Baroque plasterwork when compared with, for example, his Gaiety, Douglas (1893) or Grand, Blackpool (1894), and also in a relative coarseness in the handling of some of the forms, e.g. the composition of the boxes, and the heavily emphasised proscenium frame. When considered in an overall context, however the King’s is an important and complete example of Edwardian theatre architecture.

In 2001, after a successful campaign by AKTER (Action for Kings Theatre Restoration) to keep the theatre open, the theatre was purchased by Portsmouth City Council and leased to the Kings Theatre Trust Ltd who undertook the restoration of the building, whilst the Kings Theatre Southsea Ltd operated it on a day-to-day basis.

Since 2003 it has been managed by the Kings Theatre Trust Ltd as a voluntary charitable trust.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1907 : continuing
Current state
Current use
Albert Road, Southsea, Hampshire, PO5 2QJ, England
Further details
Other names
  • Owner/Management: Portsmouth Theatre Company Ltd, owners; Boughton succeeded by Davey & 1960s Commander Cooper, managing directors
  • 1907 Design/Construction:
    Frank Matcham
    - Architect
  • 1907 Use: continuing
  • 1964 Owner/Management: Mrs Cooper, owner; Commander Reginald Cooper, manager
  • 1987 Alteration: roof and auditorium ceiling repaired
    City Architect
    - Architect
  • 1987 - 1991 Owner/Management: Mrs Cooper (now widow), owner & manager
  • 1988 Owner/Management: Mrs Cooper, co-owner with Ivor Barnes
  • 1991 Owner/Management: Hampshire County Council, owners; Mrs Cooper, lessee
  • 2001 Owner/Management: Purchased by Portsmouth City Council; Kings Theatre Trust, lessee
  • 2007 Alteration: Restoration of auditorium ceiling and much of interior; some backstage power flying installed
  • 2008 Alteration: Restoration of the tower on the corner of Albert Road and Exmouth Road and replica “Aurora” lady statue fitted to the top of the cupola.
  • 2012 Alteration: No 28 Albert Road refurbished as an activity centre and offices renovated.
  • 2016 Alteration: Re-positioning and redecoration of the toilets on the Dress Circle level, a new Parent Room with Baby Change created on the Dress Circle level.
  • Capacity
  • Capacity
    1920: 2064
    1946: 1780
    later: 1450
  • Capacity
  • Listing
Stage type
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: 1907 Depth: 45ft (1992) Width SL: 27ft 6in SR: 27ft 6in
Proscenium width: 1907: 25ft 1992: 28ft
Height to grid: 1992: 50ft
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: Original pit, 20-24 musicians; 12 dressing rooms