The Assembly Rooms Durham on North Bailey is getting a new lease of life with a £2.4m redevelopment.
Since August 2018, the Assembly Rooms Durham has been closed to enable redevelopment work to be carried out. Due to reopen and start hosting events in October 2019, the work will repair, restore and improve the historic building.
The work will restore the 220-seat, 150-year-old theatre’s original ceiling, and improve disabled access at Assembly Rooms Durham.
The restoration also includes internal redecoration throughout, refurbishment of all the toilets, replacing the existing heating system, renewing the theatre seating and renewing and repairing all the windows and doors.
Assembly Rooms Durham bosses are also hoping to raise an additional £300,000 through donations to improve the box office, access control throughout the Assembly Rooms theatre, and create a bar and cafe. A donation of £100 gets your name written on the workshop wall while £60,000 means you can name the new bar.
Assembly Rooms Durham was originally an 18th Century ballroom before being redeveloped as a theatre in 1869. This was in response to Durham's Theatre Royal burning down, and 22 years later the Durham Assembly Rooms hosted its first production, of Il Travatore, as well as Durham Amateur Operatic Group performances, such as HMS Pinafore in 1908. Five years earlier, there was also the first showing of a film in Durham, when the Assembly Rooms Durham showed WS Porter’s film The Great Train Robbery.
Durham University took over the Assembly Rooms Durham in 1930 and refurbished it in the 1950s so that it could start hosting theatre productions again.
In more recent times, Assembly Rooms Durham underwent another renovation between 2007 and 2009, which included a complete redecoration of the auditorium, the refurbishment of all existing seats, and the inclusion of a modern box office.