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GRAND THEATRE

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In 1877-78 a combined theatre, assembly rooms and a row of shops were built on a three-quarter of an acre site. The structure was built to the designs of George Corson and is constructed from brick with stone dressings and a slate roof. The main facade has three elements: the theatre entrance to the left, a row of six shops to the centre, and assembly rooms, later cinema, to the right. Internally, the theatre's auditorium in stylistically unique in Britain, an opulent high Victorian invention with clustered Gothic shafts framing the proscenium. There are three sweeping horseshoe balconies; the first and second balconies have their arms divided into eight boxes on each side. The third balcony is divided by a parapet into a gallery of nine rows rising behind an amphitheatre of four rows which extends into the side slips. Above is a fourth level of upper slips. The balconies are decorated with glided scrollwork, curved downward to the round proscenium arch in a rectangular frame. The first-floor assembly rooms are in a completely different but classical style, the present appearance resulting from 20th century alterations to an originally taller room. By 1907 the assembly rooms had been converted into a cinema and the shop fronts were altered circa 1930, with two shops restored in 1978. The theatre complex has been the home of Opera North since 1978.

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