200 years of history.

Scheme Overview

Liverpool’s Royal Court has worked with architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris to create a scheme that has modernised and restored the Royal Court, making it a better environment for our audience.

Fundraising for the scheme included a £1 per ticket levy that raised over one million pounds. In 2021 this increased to £2 per ticket.

The total cost of the scheme was £11.9m and the work was be done in phases so that the theatre remained open to the public as much as possible.

Act One was completed in June 2012 and included new seating, improved toilet facilities and disabled access.

Act Two, was completed in 2016, worked on the entrance, creating a new foyer space and refreshing the outside of the building. A lift was installed to create easy accessibility to every level.

Act Three focused on the upper circle and balcony levels of the theatre creating better public spaces, new toilet facilities, improved access and better food and drink facilities. A new 150 seat basement venue was developed and better dressing rooms for actors and backstage staff. It also involved converting the building next door into the Courtyard Bar & Restaurant.

Act Four is a longer term plan to adjoin the Courtyard Bar & Kitchen next door to the theatre in two stages.

Act One

Restoration and Preservation

Support from the Heritage Lottery Fund enabled the Trust to start the first substantial renovation work in the theatre for nearly 75 years.

Work focussed on the auditorium to make maximum impact to audiences who were desperate for new seats, better bar facilities and improved access.

On 1st March 2012, Nobles Construction of Liverpool began a 16 weeks programme to renovate the Art Deco auditorium, transform public facilities in the basement and create permanent disabled access to the stalls area of the theatre.

The seating was supplied by Evertaut who have created this case study.

The programme was completed on time and to budget.

The Theatre reopened on 29th June 2012 with a new play written by Dave Kirby, Reds and Blues.

Act Two

The Entrance

Phase two of the Royal Court’s refurbishment saw the extension of the building to fill the space currently covered by the canopy. This has allowed us to move Box Office to the front of the building and free up the current Box Office space to be used as a multi-purpose area. The new entrance is a striking addition whilst still being in keeping with the current Art Deco style. We have added lifts to all areas of the theatre.

The Welcome Project has created 480 square metres of new foyer space and dramatically improved the public realm outside the theatre. It has enabled us to install a lift throughout the building from basement to balcony giving people with mobility difficulties access to the whole building. It has created a terrace at first floor level, new box office facilities and a new welcome space which people can enjoy during the day as well as in the evening before and after shows.

(The Royal Court Theatre Welcome Project has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and part-funded by a capital loan from Liverpool City Council)

This phase of work was completed in Autumn 2015.

We would like to thank our wonderful audiences, fantastic staff, dedicated Trustees and exceptional partners.

Act Three

Act Three was completed in January 2018. During this final phase of renovations we created a new, 150 seat, basement venue which operates independently of the main theatre. We also improved the balcony for audiences by creating new bar and toilets facilities. There is a new cut through into the balcony, giving audiences easier access to the balcony and a better experience when watching the show with larger, more comfortable seat and more legroom.

Backstage there are improvements to our dressing rooms, bringing them up to modern day standards with shower facilities and heating. We have re-instated the backstage lift to make all dressing rooms fully accessible. We have renovated and upgraded the stage area by installing new communication systems and fly-bars to increase the size and range of shows the theatre can present. The original revolve stage which is one of the largest outside of London was restored.

The contractors for this phase of the refurbishment were John Turner Construction Group.

Established in 1907 they have built some of the most prominent buildings in the North West and have maintained many basic construction principles in areas such as in-house skills and training as well as bespoke manufactured joinery.

Act Four

In 2015, an opportunity arose to purchase the Penny Farthing public house next door to the theatre from owners of St John’s Shopping Centre. The Penny Farthing had long been an eye sore at a key city gateway for visitors and tourists arriving at Lime Street Station from other parts of the UK.

The public house and surrounding area was purchased with a loan from by Liverpool City Council to the Royal Court Liverpool Trust, the charity in charge of the theatre building. Using local contractors, the Trust gave the public house a £300,000 makeover transforming it into Courtyard Bar & Kitchen with stunning views over the historic St George’s Quarter and UNESCO World Heritage site. Courtyard Bar & Kitchen now has a busy restaurant with high quality pre-theatre dinning opportunities for people visiting the city’s attractions including Liverpool’s Royal Court, Empire Theatre, St George’s Hall and Playhouse Theatre as well as a peaceful garden space and modern bar.

The urban garden created outside the Courtyard is looked after by a volunteer gardening group and planters outside the theatre and Courtyard help to make the public realm more attractive. This part of the project is supported through the Liverpool City Council S106 initiative. The theatre has a large terrace with a pollinator roof, bug hotel and selection of pollinator plants to encourage urban wildlife and help create a better environment for all.

Act Five

In the original scheme by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, pods were proposed to address issues of overcrowding backstage for actors, technical teams and theatre staff. The purchase of the former Penny Farthing site has created an opportunity to solve these issues by adding a floor onto the existing Courtyard Bar & Kitchen rather than the pods. The new extension will join on to the theatre building and make use of space on the roof of the theatre to complete the capital works to the theatre.

Act V will provide additional dressing rooms, staff room, technical facilities and office space to ensure Liverpool’s Royal Court is fit for purpose throughout the coming decades. These additional spaces will enable the theatre to present bigger shows with larger casts as well as hosting some of the UK’s leading theatre providers such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre.

Act V will cost in the region of £1.5m and Royal Court Liverpool Trust are currently seeking support for this project from public funders, private trusts and foundations and donors.

The Workshop

As the largest producing theatre in Liverpool City Region and only mid-scale theatre that is part of the Arts Council National Portfolio, Liverpool’s Royal Court is creating a flexible facility in Everton that will cater for theatre producers throughout the region and beyond. This project will expand the current workshop facilities owned by the theatre from 1540 sqm to 2420 sqm. Additional space will create three flexible rehearsal spaces, wardrobe and costume storage for the Royal Court’s 25,000+ piece theatre costume collection and bigger workshop to allow multi set build in state of the art conditions.

A scheme by local practice, Architects Emporium has been submitted to Liverpool City Council for planning permission. Royal Court Liverpool Trust is seeking investment to support the scheme which is estimated to cost in the region of  £3.5m.

This exciting new facility for the region will sustain 12 existing jobs in the creative sector and provide full time employment for another 10+ people. The theatre will work with training providers and local FE establishments to develop training courses for young people in all aspects of theatre and related industries to ensure the regions cultural industries continue to grow.

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