THEATRE SEATS FIND NEW HOMES ACROSS THE UK
From ghosts to regicide plots, WWII bombs to the birth of musical theatre, the hallowed halls of Theatre Royal Drury Lane have almost seen it all.
As part of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane renovation the auditorium will be entirely re-modelled to improve sightlines and comfort, this includes brand new, custom made seating.
The auditorium seats were still in good condition so rather than letting them to go to waste 1,000 of the seats have been gifted to three regional volunteer-run venues across the UK, the New Mills Art Theatre, Derbyshire; The Olympus Theatre, Gloucester; and The Royal Court Theatre, Bacup.
“LW Theatres is thrilled to recycle a much-loved piece of our history in a way that adds real value to regional theatres. We look forward to following the journey from Theatre Royal Drury Lane to their new life enjoyed by new audiences across the UK.”
CEO of LW Theatres Rebecca Kane Burton
New Mills Art Theatre, Derbyshire
The Art Theatre, formally known as New Mills Empire and Hippodrome (1911) and also The Art Picture Playhouse (1922) was built in June 1911 to bring amateur theatre to New Mills town, and Districts throughout the High Peak in Derbyshire.
To mark the gifting of the seats and to celebrate 60 years of managing and wholly funding the building, the Directors of New Mills Art Theatre Ltd embarked on a project to transform the auditorium into a warm and welcoming public building for all of New Mills and District to enjoy.
“It puts a whole new outlook on getting bums on seats. It’s all about team work and making the Art Theatre accessible to a future generation for another 60 years”.
Beverley Eaves, Director of New Mills Art Theatre
The seats are now in place at New Mills Art Theatre and the transformation of the auditorium is complete. See below gallery.
Olympus Theatre in Gloucestershire
The Olympus Theatre was built in 1922, known as Gloucester Picturedrome it was used as a 700-seat cinema. From 1962 the venue became a bingo hall, before being transformed into the New Olympus Theatre in the mid-1980s under ownership of the Gloucester Operatic and Dramatic Society (GODS).
During the early 1990s, the Challenge Anneka team completed a refurbishment of the theatre, but GODS were forced to sell the theatre in 2007 because of its high maintenance costs.
The theatre sadly lay unused for 15 years, with various attempts to restore the building to its former glory; during 2018 the refurbishment project backed by Gloucester Arts Council ownership was returned to the community.
450 chairs from the royal circle at Theatre Royal Drury Lane have been gifted to the theatre, they form the start of the project headed by Gloucester Theatre Association to finish and restore and repair the building for re-opening.
“Gloucester has a beautiful turn of the century theatre that has remained closed for 10 of the past 15 years and this gift is invaluable in our quest to save, fully restore and reopen Gloucester’s only remaining purpose-built theatre,”
Phil McCormick, Gloucester Theatre Association
The Bacup Royal Court Theatre, Lancashire
The Bacup Royal Court Theatre was originally built an iron foundry “Barkers Iron Foundry”. By 1892 the building was in disuse and was bought my Mr. John Walters with the intention of opening a variety theatre. It opened as the Royal Court Theatre and on the 18th September 1893.
The name has been changed various times throughout the years, from the Royal Court Theatre to the New Court Theatre and in 1909 it became the Court Picture Palace, by this time its principal source of income was picture shows. Later it became the Art Picture Palace. In 1918 it changed its name again and became the Empire Theatre, remaining so until 2000 when it reverted back to its original name of the Royal Court Theatre.
The original theatre had two circles and housed 2,000 people, in 1948 the auditorium was remodelled, the upper circle was removed and the circle altered and replaced reducing the seating capacity to 500.
In 1959 to prevent the theatre from closing down the Bacup Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society (BAODS) rented the theatre. The theatre was subsequently bought by Gordon Lever Productions of Leeds and began showing films again. The theatre was adopted to accommodate Bingo but the society used it all the while for their productions.
In 1966 Star Holding bought the theatre and in 1967 it was put on the market again. Meanwhile BOADS remained caretakers of the theatre, until May 2015 when the theatre was closed because of outstanding debts.
In June 2015 a group of dedicated volunteers formed the Bacup Royal Court Theatre Group (BRCTG) a not for profit organisation with a view to saving the theatre, managing to reopen the theatre in Jan 2017.
“Our old theatre has been a hub for the local area for 130 years and is solely run by volunteers without local funding which has made it hard to do any major refurbishments. The 300 seats we can now replace are over 100 years old, some of them are beyond repair, which will add a much-needed face lift to the auditorium.”
Nick Daye, Director of The Bacup Royal Court Theatre