8 December 2023
Key figures behind Edinburgh King’s Theatre latest ‘adaptation’ leave their mark
Representatives from Capital Theatres and Robertson Construction Central East and the Design team left their mark on structural steel, which is part of the £35.6m transformation of the 117-year-old King’s Theatre, during a visit to celebrate progress.
Guests from Capital Theatres, Robertson Construction Central East, the project design team, the local community and the City of Edinburgh Council, were invited to sign a plaque that will be fixed to the new fly tower, which has an increased height of 4.5m, whilst enjoying panoramic views of the castle and across the city centre. The signed panel will become part of the theatre’s ongoing legacy.
Robertson Construction Central East is delivering the transformation for Capital Theatres, Scotland's largest theatre charity. The project will preserve the heritage of ‘the Grand Old Lady of Leven Street’ whilst improving facilities both onstage and off and providing greater community access and engagement.
Fiona Gibson, CEO of Capital Theatres, was first to sign the steel, and commented: “We are absolutely thrilled to have reached this important milestone in the renovation of the King’s Theatre with our partners, Robertson Construction. The steel frame for the newly extended fly tower is now in place, and we’re looking forward to the next chapter for this iconic heritage landmark building. It was very special to mark this key moment with people who have been involved with the King’s project from the very beginning, particularly members of the Tollcross community whom we cannot wait to welcome back into the building.
“Together we are stewards of this beloved theatre and this project ensures that this magnificent theatre continues to thrive and support the cultural life of Edinburgh all year round. It will attract a greater variety of productions than ever before, allow better access for audiences and artists whatever their needs, and will continue to inspire a life-long love of theatre across the generations.”
David Cairns, Managing Director, Robertson Construction Central East, said: “It was a pleasure to host Capital Theatres and guests on-site to see the progress being made and have the unique opportunity to add our own individual mark in the theatre’s legacy.
“The transformation of the cherished King’s Theatre is to futureproof the building so that the curtain can be raised for the next generation. Visitors will be able to enjoy the new state-of-the-art facilities, community and creative engagement spaces, café and, of course, the grand stage for performances. However, as the custodians of care throughout construction, we are ensuring the Edwardian character of the building is not lost and its distinguishable features remain.”
Robertson employees have undertaken specialist restoration training in order to carry out the preservation works to the highest quality, so that while facilities are modernised and enhanced, the building's unique personality and heritage remains in place.
Works are progressing in line with current programme, with the erection of the steel work for the new fly tower now complete, and structural alterations being undertaken to make way for the enhancement of the front and back of house areas.
During the site visit guests were able to see the protection that has been put in place to preserve the grand interior doors and statement staircase.
Once the works are complete, audiences will enjoy a transformed front of house area which will become a warm and welcoming gathering place for visitors to the theatre with a new feature window enabling visibility to and from all four floors.
Major alterations are being made to improve accessibility for audiences and artists with new lifts and wider staircases, and to further enhance the visitor experience at the theatre's circle and upper circle bars, along with the creation of a new bar at stalls level. A new café extension will bring the theatre into use for the local community during the day.
The celebratory steel signing event creates a new chapter for the Grade A-listed building, that is rich in social and architectural history.
The project is funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, National Lottery Heritage Fund and donations from many generous members of the public.
The works are due to complete in 2025, when once again the theatre will take centre stage.