In January 2020, the Royal Court Theatre in Bacup Lancashire approached Stone Oak Limited and asked if we could provide an estimate/report on the refurbishment, together with costings for their basement/cellar. The Royal Court Theatre is a very old extremely large three storey building built into a hill. The basement area was old and tired, suffering from damp, moisture, water ingress, water penetration and was not used. This was a large project. However we provided the report and estimated costings and they were submitted to a funding body. The funding body agreed to provide financial assistance for the project and Stone Oak were instructed to proceed with the work. Here is a little of the history regarding this wonderful theatre.
In 1892 the disused building was bought my Mr. John Walters with the intention of opening a variety theatre. It opened as the Royal Court Theatre and on the 18th September 1893 staged it’s first show.
It changed its name along the way to the New Court Theatre and in 1909 it became the Court Picture Palace. By this time its principal source of income was picture shows. Later it became the Art Picture Palace.
In 1909 the Bacup Dramatic Society performed its first show. On the 6th Feb 1911 Dame Nelly Melba appeared in the theatre. In 1918 it changed it name again and became the Empire Theatre and remained that until 2000 when it reverted back to its original name of the Royal Court Theatre.
In 1930’s the Bacup Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society (BAODS) was born. It originally had two circles and housed 2000 people but in 1948 the upper circle was removed and the circle altered and replaced reducing the seating capacity to 500.
In 1959 to prevent the theatre from closing down BAODS rented the theatre from Jacksons Amusements Ltd. The theatre was subsequently bought by Gordon Lever Productions of Leeds and began showing films again. The theatre was adopted to accommodate Bingo but the society used it all the while for their productions.
In 1966 Star Holding bought the theatre and in 1967 it was put on the market again. Meanwhile BOADS remained caretakers of the theatre, until May 2015 when the theatre was closed because of outstanding debts.
In June 2015 a group of dedicated volunteers formed the Bacup Royal Court Theatre Group (BRCTG) a not for profit organisation with a view to saving the theatre and they managed to reopen the theatre in Jan 2017. Under their new management the theatre is in better shape now than it has been for many years opening its doors for amateur and professional shows alike.
It is still used today by the community for the community. They regularly put on shows, acts and pantomimes. It is voluntary led team who look after the theatre.
During the last 18 months, the theatre has been closed because of lockdown. However, the Royal Court Theatre is now on track for re-opening with a host of events, acts and shows. In October 2021 the basement/cellar area that has been totally refurbished and named the “Stella” bar is opening to the public.
PLEASE NOTE: Stone Oak Limited were involved in the refurbishment of the basement from its original brick state, installing a submersible pump and sump, levelling, concreting the floor, preparing the brickwork/walls/masonry and ceilings. We were determined to maintain the original under-vaulted ceilings in keeping with the character of the building. All re-plastering, insulation, dry-lining and skimming was undertaken by Stone Oak Limited. Stone Oak were not involved with the fitting out of the bar area.