In an age when no new building is designed to have a useful life beyond a couple of decades, it is all the more sad when others that where built to last are left to fall into ruin. Such is the case with the Theatre Royal in Hyde which I was able to visit today as part of the Open Heritage Days.
It was built in 1902 as a full-size professional theatre. It seated 1,120 people on three levels — the stalls, the circle and the gods — and each level had its own entrance, stairs and ticket office. Where you sat reflected in the price of a ticket and your station in life, the wealthy in the circle, the middling class in the stalls and the hoi polloi in the gods.
In later years, it became a cinema and there is still a screen behind the curtain. I remember taking my daughter to Beauty and the Beast there in the early 1990s. It sticks in my memory because it was absolutely freezing. This was just before it closed its doors in 1992.
It was bought by a developer who wanted to demolish the building but was thwarted by the Theatre Royal Onward group who had the building listed and have since been raising funds to buy the theatre and restore it to its former glory.
Public access to the building is now limited because of the disrepair. Villains broke in to steal the lead piping carrying the water supply which badly flooded the place and generally added to the state of dereliction. But TRO are not downhearted and more determined than ever ro resurrect its fortunes.
The photo was difficult to take because of the low-level lighting conditions and I have had to adjust the exposure in Photoshop. I have also ‘stitched’ together six separate shots and you can see some panoramic distortion. Even so, I’m quite pleased with the way it cam out — click on the image for a larger version.