Theatre Royal Bath is planning a major refurbishment scheme which it hopes will reintroduce the “wow factor” back to the venue, reduce running costs and meet access requirements for disabled theatregoers.
It has submitted a planning application to Bath and North East Somerset Council, which outlines plans for an extension to the foyer to ease congestion in the entrance area and improve facilities for wheelchair users and people with hearing impairments.
The modernisation will extend to the main auditorium and will see “visual clutter” such as the “overbearing” heavily patterned carpet and wallpaper removed. The site’s heating, cooling and electrical systems will also be updated, as will the bars.
However, the plans indicate that little change will be made to the existing fabric of the 200-year-old, grade II-listed building.
Documents drawn up by architectural firm Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios – which designed the Pegasus Theatre in Oxford – reveal the theatre’s aim to “create an identity for the main house which is as strong as the Egg and the Ustinov”, the two additional auditoria on site.
Danny Moar, director of the Theatre Royal Bath, said: “The Theatre Royal is planning a refurbishment programme to both conserve and update the main house, which will involve maintenance work backstage and front of house, remodelling the foyer, improvements to disabled access, a new bar in the stalls and improved decoration.”
If given approval from the council, it will mark the first time the main house has undergone a major refurbishment in 30 years.
In 2008, the theatre commissioned a feasibility study by architects, mechanical and electrical engineers and theatre consultants to assess the condition of the building and outline the extent of any necessary repairs.
The study revealed that elements of the external building fabric needed improvement, public areas were deemed to be crowded with poor disabled access and the auditorium’s plasterwork and gilding were described as “dirty, faded and damaged”.
The Theatre Royal Bath dates back to 1805 and is one of the few remaining theatres dating from the early 19th century that is still serving its original purpose.