Blackpool's Grand Theatre reaches 125 year milestone

And old photos of The Grand Theatre
And old photos of The Grand Theatre
Share this article
0
Have your say

Blackpool’s beautiful Grand Theatre stands proud in the heart of the town centre and with it’s stunning interior, it has become one of Lancashire’s most well-loved buildings.

Blackpool’s beautiful Grand Theatre stands proud in the heart of the town centre and with it’s stunning interior, it has become one of Lancashire’s most well-loved buildings.

Keith Harris and Orville outside the Grand Theatre,Blackpool'October 1982

Keith Harris and Orville outside the Grand Theatre,Blackpool'October 1982

It opened 125 years ago this week, built in just nine months by Frank Matcham, a leading Victorian theatre architect.

And its early days were a thriving success under the command of theatre manager Thomas Sergenson who described the theatre as Matcham’s Masterpiece, for which it is still referred to today.

The very first performance was a production of Hamlet with Wilson Barrett in the starring role. The programme was printed on pure silk and perfumed with Tower Bouquet by a chemist in Church Street.

Sergenson headed the theatre until 1909 when it was sold to the Tower Company, which owned the theatre until 1968.

Queues into the Blackpool Grand Theatre, a carousel ride and a recipe for pea and ham soup

Queues into the Blackpool Grand Theatre, a carousel ride and a recipe for pea and ham soup

During that time, the Grand Theatre enjoyed the pinnacle of the golden years of theatre, bringing shows, plays and musicals, as well as some of the biggest names of the day to the stage, regularly performing to sell-out audiences.

However with the arrival of television and the popularity of home entertainment soaring, the sale of theatre tickets slumped, impacting the Grand’s sustainability.

It was with that, the doors closed in 1972 and the theatre remained shut until opening for bingo in 1977. A subsequent fund-raising effort lead to its re-opening as a fully working theatre in 1981 with a production of The Merchant of Venice starring Timothy West and Prunella Scales.

In the four decades since, the theatre has undergone a major refurbishment and is once again a central part of Lancashire’s entertainment, and will hopefully play to audiences for many more years to come.

John Inman outside the Grand Theatre, Blackpool

John Inman outside the Grand Theatre, Blackpool

Prince Charles meets officials at The Grand Theatre

Prince Charles meets officials at The Grand Theatre