Express & Star

Wolverhampton Grand at 125: Hatful of theatre goodies

Auctioneer Chris Sidebotham found himself centre-stage for a sale of the contents of Wolverhampton's beloved Grand Theatre.

The scene at a preview sale of the Grand's fixtures and fittings

A total of 644 lots went under the hammer in the auction. A collection of hats from the costume department were laid out in front of him as he checked the catalogue.

The auction was the final act of the liquidation drama which brought about the theatre's closure in February 1980.

Mr Sidebotham, who worked for Wolverhampton estate agents Walker, Barnett and Hill, was pictured at the preview sale in July of that year.

As well as props and costumes, much of the theatre's furniture and fittings were also auctioned. He was sitting at one of the most valuable lots – the managing director's desk which was a 19th century copy of an 18th century original.

After the sale, workmen moved in to start an extensive renovation of the theatre, its second in a decade, prior to its eventual re-opening by Wolverhampton Council in 1983.

Seating in the upper circle was redesigned, creating an overall capacity of 1,200, while the existing seats were stripped and rebuilt. An induction loop was installed for the hard of hearing and ventilation systems renewed. Work was also carried out in the dress circle and foyer.

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 or write to 125 Memories Project, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, WV1 1DE.