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Dumfries, Shakespeare Street, Theatre Royal

Theatre (18th Century)

Site Name Dumfries, Shakespeare Street, Theatre Royal

Classification Theatre (18th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Queen Street; Electric Theatre

Canmore ID 74225

Site Number NX97NE 154

NGR NX 97446 76025

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Dumfries
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Nithsdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire

Archaeology Notes

NX97NE 154 97446 76025

A detailed analytical assessment of the theatre was undertaken in July 2004. This defined the surviving extent of the theatre of 1790 by Thomas Boyd (and of Robert Burns fame). The E and S walls of the structure are essentially complete, although in the latter area the fenestration has seen a number of phases of modification. Large sections of the N wall also remain, including evidence for early windows and entrances at cellar level. Isolated elements of the W (entrance) elevation may also remain, but these are largely overlain by later linings and the existing frontage, constructed by C J Phipps in c 1876.

The roof structure was discovered to be largely the original, and includes evidence for fittings and arrangements relating to the stage area below. This roof structure had been repaired in the 1876 works, whereby new tie beams were suspended from wooden hangers that themselves constituted reused lining boards, evidently from the interior of the original theatre. Many of these boards retain wallpaper decoration in a sequence of layers.

A series of later additions to the N wall of the theatre were recorded at cellar level.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Theatres Trust

T Addyman 2004

Architecture Notes

This site was recorded as part of the LBRP for 2002-03. This purpose-built theatre, probably the oldest surviving example of its kind in Scotland, was built in 1790-2 to the design of Thomas Boyd of Dumfries (c.1753-1822). It was opened 29 September 1792. It has undergone various changes of use and alterations, including a partial remodelling by C J Phipps of London in 1876 and renovation c. 1960 under the direction of Colin Morton of Dumfries following a fire.

The building is rectangular on plan with its main entrance to the west. Originally, the entrance was protected by 3-bay portico set below a gable. The alterations carried out under the direction of C J Phipps included the excavation of a new auditorium, the removal of the portico and the addition of a two-storey entrance bay which enclosed a vestibule and access stairs. The elaborate iron balustrade which encloses the balcony was part of the Phipps reworking but has been subsequently been straightened and re-used. Some decorative alterations, including the plasterwork of the main ceiling, were made as part of the renovations of c.1960.

Additional historical information on the origination of the building, including its original dimensions, is contained in a contract dated 1792 (copy held in RCAHMS files).

Information from RCAHMS

(NMC) 7.01.03


Photographic Survey (28 April 1960)

Photographic survey by the Scottish National Buildings Record/Ministry of Work in April 1960.


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