Blackpool Grand Theatre
The Blackpool Grand Theatre was opened in 1894 by Thomas Sergenson, it was designed by Frank Matcham and is considered some of his greatest work. The theatre took just 9 months to build at a cost of £20,000 which equates to about £80 Million when today's inflation is taken into consideration! Thomas Sergenson had worked in Blackpool very hard to earn enough to have the theatre built. He operated two theatres that he rented and ran a circus on the site of the Grand for 5 summer seasons.
The Blackpool Grand was to be a theatre with quality and tastefully acts for Blackpool's more refined guests. the opening performance was Shakespears Hamlet with a leading star of Wilson Barrett. During the first few weeks of the theatre being open it presented the biggest musical hit that our capitol, London had to offer, in the form of Charley's Aunt.
In 1909 Sergenson sold his Grand Theatre to the Blackpool Tower Company for £47,500. The Blackpool Tower Company ran the theatre for the next 63 years. During the 1930's the theatre was used as a cinema during the winter and stages live performances during the summer season.
By the early 1960's theatres across Britain were closing due to the advent of TV. The Blackpool Grand Theatre survived better than most but by 1963 the theatre closed during the winter. In 1972 The Blackpool Tower Company applied for planning permission to demolish the theatre. Fortunately an application to the Department of Environment saw the Grand Theatre gaining Grade II Listing. In 1973 a group was formed to try and save the theatre this group later was able to resist the Tower Company's application to demolish the theatre. By 1975 after years of disuse and neglect the Tower Company had decided to turn the Grand into a Bingo Hall! The Friends of the Grand agreed not to object to the planned use provided that the theatre was repaired and redecorated. Bingo was played for 3 years and eventually after lots of negotiations EMI and the Friends of the Blackpool Grand Theatre first leased the theatre and then purchased it in 1980.
In 1981 the theatre hosted a visit by D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and on 29th May had the honour of a Royal Variety Performance for HRH The Prince of Wales.