Grand TheatreBlackpool’s beautiful Grade II* listed Grand Theatre attracts the best in award-winning touring companies, including The National Theatre, English Touring Theatre, UK Productions, Opera and Ballet International and the Russian State Ballet. But here's 10 things you might not know about 'Blackpool's hidden gem'.

1. Listed Grade II*, the Grand is in the top 8 per cent of all listed buildings in England, one of only nine large theatres listed Grade II* or above, north of London.


2. The Grand was designed by Frank Matcham, the leading Victorian theatre architect. By the outbreak of the First World War no significant town was without its theatre, or music-hall and over 150 were designed by Matcham. Sadly, only some two dozen of Frank Matcham’s theatres survive till this day, with The Grand being ‘Matcham's Masterpiece’.

3. Work on The Grand Theatre began in September 1893. And it took just nine months to build, costing £20,000.

4. The proscenium stage at Blackpool Grand Theatre, which is raked, is just over 30 feet wide and 30 feet deep.  It has an imposing round arched frame with openwork plaster 'frills'. The spandrels of the arch contain large paintings of the muses.

5. The oval ceiling at Blackpool Grand Theatre is opulently decorated with painted panels of composers by Messrs Binns of Halifax.  There are two busts in the auditorium, one of Handel (looking to the stage) and one of Shakespeare (looking to the audience).
The Grand - Copyright Sean Conboy
6. On the opening night of The Grand Theatre the programmes were printed on perfumed silk.  The perfume was called ‘Tower Bouquet’. When first opened, the seats cost 4 shillings (20p); 1 or 2 guineas (£1.05 or £2.10) for a box. 

7. In 1940 theatre was nearly destroyed by a fire when a night shift of cleaners found a section of seating alight in the gallery caused by a cigarette end, but the fire brigade quickly extinguished the blaze.

8. In the mid 1960s, the theatre was included in a town centre redevelopment plan, where it would be demolished and replaced with a department store. However, following an application to the Department of the Environment in 1972, the theatre was listed as a Grade II building and in 1973 local theatre lovers banded together to resist the application to demolish the theatre. The Friends of the Grand was formed specifically for the purpose. After the purchase of the theatre by Blackpool Grand Theatre Trust Limited, in September, 1980, dozens of Friends helped to refurbish the dressing rooms and backstage areas. The Grand was reopened on Monday March 23, 1981, by Timothy West and Prunella Scales in the Old Vic production of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.

9. During the restoration in 2000 2 tons of dust and dirt was removed from the ceiling. The original colours were actually preserved by a triple layer caused by the dust, tobacco smoke (smoking was allowed in all theatres) and the varnish which had turned yellow.

10. Charlie the ghost is said to haunt the Upper Circle, after throwing himself off the edge in late Victorian times.  He was in love with a ballerina but she wasn’t in love with him.

Find out more about Heritage tours of the Grand Theatre, as well as the programme of quality dance, drama and comedy running throughout the year.

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Grand Theatre
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Blackpool Grand Theatre

Blackpool’s Grade II* listed Grand Theatre attracts the best in award-winning touring companies, including The National Theatre, English Touring Theatre, UK Productions, Opera and Ballet International and the Russian State Ballet.

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