The Grand celebrates its 120th Birthday!

18 July 2014
Tags: News

The Grade II* listed Grand Theatre celebrates its 120th Birthday on Wednesday 23 July.

The Theatre first opened its doors on 23 July 1894, having been built by the leading Victorian architect Frank Matcham. It still remains as one of the few surviving examples of his work.

The Grand Theatre has hosted a multitude of stars since its opening, from Lily Langtree to Michael Macintyre, Gracie Fields to Ken Dodd, Arthur Askey to Lee Evans…and the list goes on!

Over the 120 years, The Grand has attracted the very best in award-winning touring companies, including The National Theatre, English Touring Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Opera and Ballet International and the Russian State Ballet.

As well as presenting a programme of quality drama, comedy, dance and children’s theatre, The Grand plays host to the outstanding talents of local performers from groups across Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde.

Ruth Eastwood, Chief Executive said,

“120 years on from first opening its doors, The Grand still remains at the heart of the community, offering people of Blackpool, Wyre, Fylde and the Region the very best in touring productions, as well as opportunities to participate, experience and learn through theatre.”

Tony Stone, Chairman of the Grand Theatre Arts and Entertainment Board said,

“Having been involved in The Grand for several years, I believe there is no better way to celebrate the anniversary than with our most exciting and forward-looking programme, which is delighting the community, as well as providing a vibrant attraction for visitors to our town.”

By the early 1960s theatres across Britain were closing due to loss of audience to television and in July 1972 the then owners, the Tower Company, applied for permission to demolish it. In its

place they proposed to build a department store. However, by then, following an application to the Department of the Environment, the theatre had been listed as a Grade II* building and there had to be a full public enquiry.

Early in 1973 the Friends of the Grand was formed and after legal and financial wrangling, they, together with EMI and the local council, put together a deal involving leasing the theatre for £10,000 per annum and final purchase for £250,000.

The Friends celebrate the 120th Birthday with a very special event The 120th Birthday Tea with the Stars on Saturday 26th July. Tickets are still available and can be purchased online at http://www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk/shows/performance/120th-birthday-tea-with-the-stars  or call Box Office on 01253 290 190.

To Book for any show, call Box Office on 01253 74 33 39 or visit blackpoolgrand.co.uk

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Ends…

Notes for Editors:

For further information on Blackpool’s Grand Theatre please visit: www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk

Blackpool Grand Theatre – Arts Council England, National Portfolio Funding 2012-2015

In April 2012 the Grand Theatre became an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation and secured £120,000 per year over three years to become a regional centre of excellence for contemporary dance. The Grand was one of 1,333 organisations applied to be part of the new portfolio.

Blackpool’s Grand Theatre – Heritage and History

The Grand Theatre was opened on July 23, 1894 by Thomas Sergenson who immediately dubbed the theatre 'Matcham's Masterpiece'. This title is even more merited now that there are few surviving examples of the work of Frank Matcham, the leading Victorian theatre architect. The theatre took just nine months to build and cost Sergenson £20,000.

By the early 1960s theatres across Britain were closing due to loss of audience to television and in July 1972 the then owners, the Tower Company, applied for permission to demolish it. In its place they proposed to build a department store. However, by then, following an application to the Department of the Environment, the theatre had been listed as a Grade II* building and there had to be a full public enquiry.

Early in 1973 the Friends of the Grand was formed and after legal and financial wrangling, they, together with EMI and the local council, put together a deal involving leasing the theatre for £10,000 per annum and final purchase for £250,000.

For further information on Blackpool’s Grand Theatre please visit: www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk

Emma Rampley, Marketing, Grand Theatre, Blackpool, 01253 743213

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