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Old February 20th, 2010, 10:27 AM   #1
Newcastle Historian
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NEWCASTLE | Theatre Royal Restoration | Completed

Theatre Royal plans to go back to the future
February 20th 2010, The Journal



A HISTORIC theatre has unveiled ambitious plans for a restoration that will transform it both inside and out. Newcastle’s Theatre Royal will take its audiences on a journey through time in a £4.75m revamp to commemorate the building’s 175th birthday in 2012. The Georgian venue has changed with the times, losing much of its original authenticity as light fittings, carpets and decor styles have gone in and out of fashion over the decades.

Most notably, the Grade-1-listed building on Grey Street was completely rebuilt following a fire that destroyed it in 1899. Now the grand Georgian structure, once referred to as “the greatest building on Britain’s greatest street”, will get an architectural overhaul with the purpose of recapturing the original style of Frank Matcham’s 1901 design, while at the same time introducing 21st century standards of comfort. Imitation gas-light burners and period-style seating will sit comfortably alongside Victorian fabrics, carpets and tile-work. State-of the-art ventilation and air-conditioning will also be installed, as well as a revamp of the theatre’s washrooms and other facilities.

From the stalls and gallery right through to the stage and parts of the building’s exterior, audiences will soon see changes described as “inspirational” by Theatre Royal Chief Executive Philip Bernays. He said yesterday: “This is a very exciting time for us. “We are now moving from the feasibility stage to the full development of technical proposals – the vision of this restoration is now becoming a reality, and audiences can look forward to a much more comfortable and special experience. “The Theatre Royal is not only one of the most impressive buildings in Britain, but it is also a major monument of civic pride. It has a place in the hearts and minds of every person in the North East and also many further afield.

“Its protection and conservation is of national importance.” The works - funded through donations from businesses, charitable organisations and ticket fees - are set to take place between March and September 2011. Mr Bernays said all functions at the theatre, including meetings, conferences and educational events, will continue throughout that period but performances will be suspended for five months while the bulk of the work takes place. Theatre conservation expert Dr David Wilmore and architects Peter Hall and Robert Sansome have drawn on samples of historical material including photographs and other theatre memorabilia to inform the restoration process. The Theatre is bidding for £250,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help fund the project.

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Old August 15th, 2010, 03:44 PM   #2
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Work beginning on Theatre Royal restoration
August 14th 2010, by Alastair Craig, The Journal



LAYERS of history are peeling back at a Tyneside theatre. Colin Mitchell-Rose, an independent architectural paint researcher, elevated himself to access ornate plaster work in Newcastle's Theatre Royal auditorium yesterday. Once up in the “Gods”, he drilled hundreds of tiny millimetre-wide sample holes to examine the colour of paint layers going back decades. The work is the first phase in the research process to help inform the theatre’s £4.75m restoration.

That is expected to begin next year in time for the famous venue’s 175th anniversary which will be celebrated the year after in 2012.

The overhaul will recapture the grand style of Frank Matcham’s 1901 design, with 21st century technology to improve the experience for theatre-goers and performers. The drill samples, similar to profiling tree rings, will reveal every single application of paint applied to Matcham’s revered auditorium, and the colour found to be the Matcham original will be the shade used in the multi-million pound revamp.

Colin said: “In the historic layers, gold is a predominant colour and the shades tend to be pale rather than dark. “It’s difficult to say at this stage precisely what the original Matcham paint colour was, but our initial findings suggest pale tones.”


Read More - http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-e...1634-27060023/

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Old November 6th, 2010, 12:55 PM   #3
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The Theatre Royal is to "go dark" (as it is called) for the THIRD time in recent years, for six months next year (March to September) to carry out this project . . .




More details to follow . . .
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Old November 7th, 2010, 12:20 AM   #4
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Old November 9th, 2010, 09:52 PM   #5
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Some of the work that is required to be done to the OUTSIDE of the building . . .

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Old November 12th, 2010, 11:26 AM   #6
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One of the very best collections (in one place) that I have, of old Newcastle Adverts, is in some late 1940s Theatre Programmes that I was given by my father.

Some of the best known and most famous traditional 'Newcastle' firms, businesses, and shops, tended to advertise in the Newcastle Theatre programmes, of those days.

The programmes themselves only consisted of a (slightly smaller than) 'A4 size' piece of thin white card, folded in half. Of course paper supplies in the late 1940s, just after the war (like most things) were still in very short supply, hence the 'simple white-card' programmes. Those programmes still contained some great stuff though, as far as we are concerned now, on this thread.

This Newcastle programme, is from the Theatre Royal, and was produced for the W/C 28th October 1946 production of 'Marriage A La Mode' . . .











Some really well known traditional 'Newcastle' adverts from times past!

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Old November 12th, 2010, 02:51 PM   #7
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As was mentioned in an earlier post ('Post 3', above) the planned "temporary closure" of the Theatre Royal from March to September 2011, will be the third occasion in recent years that this has happened.

The two other recent occasions, when a LOT of restoration work was carried out and large amounts of money was spent, were . . .


(1) - June 1986 to January 1988 (20 months closed).

COST of WORKS - £6.3M.


(2) - July 2006 to September 2007 (3 months fully closed until Oct 2006, and a further 11 months work on large new Cafe/Restaurant area until September 2007)

COST of WORKS - £7.2M.



So, until the next closure and set of restoration works gets started in March next year, I thought I could use this thread to "document" the extensive works that were carried out during the other two recent closures.

This will get all the details into one place, and will get us fully up-to-date, for when next years project works commence.

In the next post, I will commence reporting on (item 1 above) the June 1986 to January 1988 Project.



Some of the books and booklets about the other two recent restoration projects at the Theatre Royal, that I will be using as resources.

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Old November 22nd, 2010, 10:05 AM   #8
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The June 1986 to January 1988 Restoration Project.

Part One - A Summary of the work required to be done . . .





















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Old December 27th, 2010, 12:39 PM   #9
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The June 1986 to January 1988 Restoration Project.

Part Two - The Work is Carried Out . . .




















The story of the work carried out during the 1986 to 1988 restoration, is from EXTRACTS from the book 'The Theatre Royal', by Newcastle Theatre Royal Ltd, in 1988.

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Old December 28th, 2010, 05:43 PM   #10
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Really interesting read NH ..
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Old December 29th, 2010, 12:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxtoon View Post


Really interesting read NH ..

Thanks max, glad you are enjoying it.

I find it quite amazing (but pleasing) how much time and effort and money has been spent on this theatre over a relatively short period of years in the recent past.

It was closed for 20 months from June 1986 to January 1988 with £6.3M spent on it, then fully closed for 3 months and part-closed for a further 11 months, over the July 2006 to September 2007 period, spending a further £7.2M.

Now it is to be closed for another 6 months (March to September next year) with a further £4.75M to be spent!

I thought it might be useful to catalogue and record (all in one place on this thread) all the work that was done on the two immediately previous occasions, and I should have the time to do that before the next project kicks off in March.

We can then record here all the work done this time, from March to September next year!
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Old January 18th, 2011, 12:58 PM   #12
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The June 1986 to January 1988 Restoration Project.

Part Three - Final Works are carried out and the Theatre Royal re-opens on Monday January 11th 1988.





But first, the final remaining work is finished off . .






The re-opening is covered in the Evening Chronicle of Thursday January 7th 1988 . .












From the February 1988 issue of 'City News' . .










Much of the story of the work carried out during the 1986 to 1988 restoration, is from EXTRACTS from the book 'The Theatre Royal' by Newcastle Theatre Royal Ltd, as well as from 'Evening Chronicle' and 'City News' newspaper reports in 1988.

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Old January 18th, 2011, 01:42 PM   #13
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Absolutely fascinating; thanks very much for posting. I must admit, the imminent restoration works came as a surprise to me, as I remember the fanfare around the 1988 reopening; I imagined those works would have set the building up for a long future. At the time, the Sheffield Lyceum was still more or less derelict, and I was rather jealous of the fact that Newcastle had sorted out the Theatre Royal in spectacular fashion while our own Victorian jewel was still in a very bad way.

Fortunately, the Lyceum reopened after its own major restoration in December 1990.

The architects Renton Howard Wood Levin seemed to be the theatre specialists at the time, and looking through your brochures and cuttings, I see many similarities between the two projects. Bradford Alhambra was the other major one that I remember from the late eighties; again, there are similarities.
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Old January 18th, 2011, 02:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damon View Post
Absolutely fascinating; thanks very much for posting. I must admit, the imminent restoration works came as a surprise to me, as I remember the fanfare around the 1988 reopening; I imagined those works would have set the building up for a long future. At the time, the Sheffield Lyceum was still more or less derelict, and I was rather jealous of the fact that Newcastle had sorted out the Theatre Royal in spectacular fashion while our own Victorian jewel was still in a very bad way.

Fortunately, the Lyceum reopened after its own major restoration in December 1990.

The architects Renton Howard Wood Levin seemed to be the theatre specialists at the time, and looking through your brochures and cuttings, I see many similarities between the two projects. Bradford Alhambra was the other major one that I remember from the late eighties; again, there are similarities.

Glad you're enjoying it Damon. There's still another big 'closure' and 'resoration works' to cover on here for the Theatre Royal yet (now the 1986-1988 one is finished) before the 2011 stuff starts . . .

Quote:
July 2006 to September 2007 (3 months fully closed until Oct 2006, and a further 11 months work on large new Cafe/Restaurant area until September 2007) COST of WORKS - £7.2M.
Am collecting the stuff together for the start of the 2006/2007 one right now . . . if I can find it (you should see this place!!)
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Old January 30th, 2011, 01:23 PM   #15
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So, details of all the work done in the first of the two recent renovations have now all been covered in this thread, in Parts 1 to 3 of the 1986-1988 Project.

I will shortly provide the first details of the work carried out during the second of the two recent renovations, over the July 2006 to September 2007 project period.

Part 1 to follow . . .
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Old January 30th, 2011, 01:24 PM   #16
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The July 2006 to September 2007 Restoration Project.

Part One - Some of the work carried out by mid-project (May 2007) . . .


On this outside view, you can see a builders compound down the side of the building. This is for the renovation and expansion of various front of house and ancillary spaces, as well as an education space.




When we got inside, we were treated to the delightful new mural of an actor taking a bow in Grey Street. This is fixed directly onto the safety curtain which was originally relatively plain.




After being told about the project, the safety curtain was flown out to reveal the stage as the audience never see it- the dream factory laid bare.




From the stage, the auditorium can be seen in all of its Matcham glory. I can remember it being described as like performing inside a wedding cake by Jimmy Edwards in Big Bad Mouse with Eric Sykes back in 1970, the first Pro show I went to see by myself. (Aisle seat, row C, front stalls).




From the back of the stage, the auditorium looks rather small in scale to the height and width.




The stage right area is new- extended into an old Barclays Bank with some forthcoming access into some vaults below for flight cases and such. When I worked the 75/76 Panto (and indeed up until a month or so ago), the wall finished to the left of the thick column next to the large white electrical box, narrower even than the auditorium on that side of the stage.




Standing centre stage and looking up, the fly floor can be seen, along with three gallery levels.




The grid, sixty feet above stage level.




In the upstage right corner is a dumb waiter lift, intended for raising chain hoists (or anything else) to grid level, safe working load 450kG.




After flights and flights of stairs, we eventually arrived at the grid. This is very unusual as it is the first one in Britain made of Plastic, or more accurately Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP), a Fibreglass (but stronger) based structural composite widely used in industry.






The Grid covers the acting area but not the wings, due to the sloping roof construction. There is a large smoke lantern over the grid, the glass painted out (but needing a repaint!)




The large yellow fixtures are movable spot loading points. All of the vertical ladders and handrails are made of GRP which is workable somewhat like timber. This view is of the counterweight and header pulleys. Note that the last four sets have an extra pulley to allow for ladder clearance.




After climbing down three sets of vertical ladders, we arrived on the flyfloor. This is a brand new flying system on the normal counterweight principle, although it is possible to link up some motorised units for powered flying. The blue weights are used to balance the bar without loading and are at the top of the cradle rather than the bottom due to height constraints in the fly tower. (It is a grade 1 listed building and much of the original timber & steel beams have been preserved)




This is the Flyman’s view from the fly floor, raked the same as the stage.




This is a double-purchase system, where the rope and cradle move only half the distance of the stage bar. (It has to be this way to give the stage dock clearance stage right but is more difficult to operate for the flyman).




This is an architects model for the construction work on display in the circle lobby. The stage haystack lantern can be clearly seen at roof level.




The above narrative and photos are from Ian Grey's Blog, from when he visited the Theatre Royal to look at the renovation works in May 2007 . . .
http://iangrey.org/about-shades/

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Old February 3rd, 2011, 11:30 PM   #17
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The July 2006 to September 2007 Restoration Project.

Part Two - Continuing from Part One, a few more mid-project updates from May 2007 . . .


While at the Theatre Royal, I took loads of photos knowing that with available light and without a tripod, some of them will turn out blurry no matter how fine they look on the small screen. These ones are the best of the ones not shown in 'Part 1'.

I took shots from various places around the theatre auditorium. This is the back of the stalls.




The back of the Dress Circle (not on the centre line)




The back of the Upper Circle.




The front of the Gallery (Follow-spot positions below)




and the very back of the gallery.




Finally, a bit of 'personal' nostalgia - the original location of “my” follow-spot, and the view I had when I was working there during the Mike & Bernie Winters pantomime. If Mike or Bernie swapped sides or went where we couldn’t cover them (in my case, anywhere far stage left) we had to swap beams!




I took a couple of triple panorama shots from an upper box and was surprised to notice afterwards that I managed to give the theatre six boxes a side rather than four . . . due to a dodgy picture lineup.



It really looks like this:




With the normal wide angle setting, we see much less of the theatre, though it 'looks' like you see more!




Some splendid ceiling detailing, taken from the gallery slips.



BUT . . . have you ever wondered what it looks like behind all of this wonderful fibrous plaster icing?

Here is a glimpse into a void space . . . Definitely not for public view!





The above narrative and photos are from Ian Grey's Blog, from when he visited the Theatre Royal to look at the renovation works in May 2007 . . .
http://iangrey.org/about-shades/


So, by the 'mid point' of the project much had been achieved, and one quite attractive new feature was already in place . . .




.
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Old February 4th, 2011, 12:18 PM   #18
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I have just added (to the bottom of the above post) two photos of the new Safety Curtain, that was created as part of this 2006/2007 project.

I think it is great, especially close up!

Does anyone have any other photos of it?
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Old February 5th, 2011, 01:54 AM   #19
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I just happened to land here after googling "Eldon Square Pencils" and am delighted to find my Theatre Royal 2007 trip reposted here on this fascinating thread.

As it happens I do have another Safety Curtain shot, this one has the least number of visitors in it.


The Royal was closed for quite a while circa 1973 or 1974 as well, for excavation and installation of a motorised Orchestra Pit. It was over the summer months when it was dark for a fair time normally anyway. Also, some time between 1976 and the major 1980s rehab, the Gallery was hacked about somewhat, with a central follow-spot dugout and a lighting bridge being installed on the ceiling edge.
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Old February 5th, 2011, 12:58 PM   #20
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The July 2006 to September 2007 Restoration Project.

Part Three - September 2007, and the renovations and extension into the former Barclays Bank on Market Street, are complete . . .


This 2006/2007 renovation achieved . .

1. An enlarged stage, to enable the 'larger' touring productions to be accommodated.
2. The takeover and expansion into the 1,400 Sq Mtrs of the former 'Barclays Bank' premises, fronting onto Market Street.
3. A new 100 square metre 'Learning Space' on the 1st floor.
4. A much larger new Box Office.
5. A large new Bistro, called 'Caffe Teatro'.
6. The Olivier Suite reception/dining area.
7. A new 'Fly-Tower' for the moving of sets and scenery around the stage area.


Details . . .


Evening Chronicle, Saturday September 1st 2007 . .














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