Restoration of Theatre Royal Wakefield could start in January 2015

Theatre Royal Newcastle, how Wakefield's theatre could look.
Theatre Royal Newcastle, how Wakefield's theatre could look.

A £2.7m restoration project will put historic beauty back into the city’s Theatre Royal, if planning permission is granted.

Plans to refurbish the Westgate theatre’s auditorium to “establish the spirit, drama and integrity” of architect Frank Matcham’s original design have been submitted.

And, if a £2m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HFL) is confirmed in the spring, work on the Grade II-listed building could start in January 2015.

Stalls, balconies and the stage will be refurbished, and old paintings, stained glass and decorations will be brought back into use.

Executive director Murray Edwards said a natural ventilation system would make audiences more comfortable.

He said: “We’re restoring the building to its original beauty. It’ll be a more authentic version of what it is now.

“As well as having a visual impact, it’ll be a much more pleasant environment for all audiences.”

Theatre Royal Wakefield was built in 1894 and is the oldest and smallest surviving auditorium of Matcham’s.

The auditorium ceiling will be redecorated with murals and gold leaf work, in keeping with the original design.

And original tiles which formed the foyer floor are to be used in a refurbishment of the theatre entrance.

Mr Edwards said he hoped the building would be ready to reopen in September 2015.

He added: “We’ll have a building that is considerably more delightful than it is now.

“And we’ll be promoting its heritage to help people understand why we are here. Hopefully it will make the theatre appeal to a wider audience.”

A design and access statement submitted to Wakefield Council said: “The proposal is very much heritage-focussed both in its historical research and detail, emphasising the need for faithful and thorough restoration. It will breath Matcham’s spirit back into the building, not only to safeguard the future of its building fabric, but more importantly to safeguard the future development of theatre performance and audience engagement in Wakefield.”