Report - - Doncaster Grand/Empire, Nov 2011 | Theatres and Cinemas | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Doncaster Grand/Empire, Nov 2011


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One of many from Speed and I's recent trip. Without giving anything away, access was comedy to say the least!

Not too bad nick this one. Most of the damage has been done by the woeful planning of Doncaster's illustrious council. Not only has the decimation of the street it once sat on left it out of place, but the street's replacement in the form of a shopping center has virtually swallowed the building whole. Even more shocking is the "nibble" the ring road has taken out of the back of the building!!

Inside there is some damp damage but it's not too bad and is complete with seats, circle and god's bars, fly tower with fabulous rope race and some cracking finds in the form of century old posters in the attic. I have since informed the theater's preservation trust of their existance so hopefully they will end up saved.

A decent and potentially valuable theatre that has been to the brink of the abyss without, as yet, falling over.

The Grand, built in 1899, may incorporate parts of the shell of an older (possibly circus) building. As originally built it stood on a prominent site in a shopping street facing the main railway station. Old-fashioned (but comparatively recent) city centre ‘improvements’ have, however, robbed it of any sensible context. It is no longer in a street but on what now looks like the backlot of an inward-looking shopping precinct. It still faces the station but is separated from it by a busy inner ring road which comes so close that it has actually snipped off a lower corner of the stage house. The approach from the station (to the town as well as the theatre) is now by way of a repellent subway. It is a wonder that it has survived at all and it was, in fact, threatened with demolition even after it was listed in 1994.

An energetic local campaign eventually led to the reversal of a decision to permit demolition, but the future remains uncertain. There seems to be a desire to strengthen the pedestrian link from the railway station to the town and a public transport interchange may be created at this point, giving opportunities for improving both the public face and the environment of the theatre.

The façe, which, with an improved setting, could again become a local landmark, is three-storeyed, Baroque in treatment with a complex rhythm of bays articulated by coupled and single pilasters and groupings of arched windows and doorways. There is a broken segmental pediment over the three central bays.

Intimate auditorium. Two well curved balconies with good plasterwork on fronts, the upper gallery benched (some of the least useful seating areas could be colonised to improve front of house facilities). Single pedimented boxes in otherwise plain side walls, flanking a rectangular-framed 7.9m (26ft) proscenium.

Provided any replanning of the surroundings allows for the get-in and other needs of the theatre, the Grand could quite readily be restored and reopened and would be infinitely better than the present Civic Theatre. It could serve both amateur and professional drama and musical productions, small scale touring and other activities.

























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