Buxton Opera House

Buxton, England

Buxton Opera House is a well-preserved 900-seat theatre originally designed by the renowned English theatre architect Frank Matcham. Since its opening in 1903, the building has seen minimal changes and this lack of modernisation has increasingly become a challenge over the years. This has affected the running of the theatre, limiting the shows that can be accommodated due to falling short of modern standards, and showing restrictions to accommodate a growing audience, providing easy access and participation.

Bennetts Associates was appointed in March 2019 by Arts Council England, High Peak Borough Council and High Peak Theatre Trust to carry out a feasibility study to look at the moves required to upgrade Buxton Opera House into a venue fit for the future. Together, the vision for the Opera House focuses on four key components:

  • Upgrading the stagehouse, flytower and auditorium rig to modern standards.
  • Developing a solution for replacing the original hemp flying system that remains sensitive to the historic building.
  • Improve get–in and stage access improvements for touring and festival use.
  • Extend Backstage and production facilities, including the creation of a new rehearsal and education spaces for the community.

The new opera house will be more versatile with the extensive renovation project taking place with minimum disruption to the running of the program, while tackling much-needed upgrades to audience facilities and access. Wheelchair users will be able to enter directly through the front door and use a new lift access to the theatre bars. Elements of the building's historic character will be retained as much as possible with the balance of past and present becoming the theatre's distinctive quality.

Project Information

  • Client
  • Buxton Opera House
  • Theatre Consultant
  • Theatreplan
  • Cost Consultant
  • Gardiner & Theobald