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Wolverhampton Grand at 125: Grand facelift – first time round

By Marion Brennan | Wolverhampton | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

It looked as though a bomb had hit Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre, ripping out a good deal of its interior.

Grand view from backstage during the 1973 facelift

In fact this was the work of builders who, in 1973, undertook the building's first major facelift.

Public money was needed to help fund the extensive project, and so a non-profit making trust, subsequently Grand Theatre Wolverhampton Ltd, was formed in order to attract funding from Arts Council England.

The new company put in a new stage, improved lighting at the venue and strengthened the back wall in Berry Street.

Before this, improvement work was often undertaken by volunteers. In 1970, the auditorium's Wedgewood blue, white and gold was repainted a Spanish Chestnut red, white and gold by such a group.

Between 60–70 members of the Grand Theatre Club gave up their Sundays during August of that year to complete the job, working in shifts as soon as the curtain went down on a Saturday night. The paint was donated by Manders, while a cheque from Bilston Operatic Society paid for the scaffolding.

Throughout the decade that followed, the Grand enjoyed success with pantomime and numerous touring productions of musicals, ballet, opera and plays but as audiences again began to decline the theatre was forced to close in 1980.

The campaign to save it resulted in the theatre's second major facelift.

The image is reproduced here as the Express & Star joins with the Grand to mark the theatre’s milestone 125th anniversary later this year.

* If you have memories or pictures, email 125@grandtheatre.co.uk or write to 125 Memories Project, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, WV1 1DE.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan
@Marion_EStar

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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