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Theatre Royal

Frank Matcham

alias Pilkington Theatre
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1889 | opening

(detail)1901 | alteration
reopened 1901 after Matcham reconstruction
(detail)1964 | alteration



In 1964, following acquisition by Pilkington's, the glass manufacturers, the auditorium and front-of-house of the theatre were entirely reconstructed and a new (glass!) facade built. All that now survives of Matcham's building is the outside structural walls and the stage. His original entrance fagade was in a freely adapted and light-hearted version of the classical style - three wide bays of giant pilasters and an amusing little free-standing gable over the centre. The auditorium had two balconies supported by iron columns, and single boxes flanking the proscenium, with elaborately panelled canopies. The ceiling was flat with a circular centrepiece.

The theatre was severely damaged by fire in 1901, and Matcham was called back to carry out the reconstruction. It was indicative of the improved structural techniques acquired since the erection of the first theatre that he omitted the front line of columns supporting the balconies and substituted cantilevered iron beams. At the same time the plasterwork was radically altered in concept and detail to the more Baroque forms characteristic of the later date.

Matcham's interior has been completely replaced by the present auditorium - a comfortable but theatrically dull affair with one balcony.



In: WALKER, Brian Mercer. Frank Matcham: theatre architect. Belfast: Blackstaff Press, c1980, xii, 178 p. ISBN 08-564-0231-1.  p. 120 - 121



Author: Brian Mercer Walker

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