Kings Theatre photo, Edwardian Edinburgh Arts Venue, 2 Leven Street, Viewforth Building
King’s Theatre Edinburgh Architecture
Edinburgh Arts building at 2 Leven Street, Viewforth, Scotland, UK
ppost updated 6 November 2023 ; 29 December 2021
Date of completion: 1906
Architect: Swanston & Davidson
King’s Theatre Edinburgh
Address: 2 Leven Street, Viewforth, southwest Edinburgh, EH3 9LQ
Phone: 0131 529 6000
Edwardian theatre, old red sandstone, positioned hard onto a busy street.
News excerpt from 2002 re Kings Theatre Edinburgh:
A £10m facelift by LDN Architects unveiled.
Significant Edinburgh Property – Selection:
King’s Theatre Edinburgh Building History
The King’s became famous for being a venue belonging to the theatre empire Howard & Wyndham. The theatre was originally commissioned by the Edinburgh Building Company Ltd, chaired by Robert C. Buchanan. The King’s was built as a rival to the successful Royal Lyceum Theatre, which had been established for over twenty years. Buchanan was experienced in the industry as he already managed a large number of provincial variety theatres, however this was his most ambitious project yet.
In 1950 the glass canopy was replaced by a more modern design. Then attention was turned to improving the interior.
The King’s closed for ten months, during which time underwent some dramatic structural alterations internally. The building was redecorated, the uppermost balcony was demolished, and then the rake of the Upper Circle was increased and extended back. The sight lines had now been much improved, and this had resulted in the capacity being reduced dramatically.
The theatre was opened partially for the 1951 Edinburgh Festival, with its Dress Circle closed off. It was closed once more for refurbishment works to be completed. The King’s finally reopened again on 14 December 1951. Over the 1950s and 1960s the variety productions continued their success.
In 1969, the theatre was sold by Howard & Wyndham to Edinburgh City Council, to secure the theatre’s future and its part in Edinburgh International Festivals and as a venue for Scottish Opera. At this time the King’s was the most prominent theatre in the city, with the larger Empire now used for bingo, and the huge Playhouse still being used as a super-cinema.
In 1970 the theatre was designated as a Category A listed building. In 1985 the council invested £1.25m in the King’s. The woodwork, carpets, glass and marble were restored, and in the auditorium the aisles were widened. Also, new seats more akin to a multiplex cinema were installed, and the apron and orchestra pit were increased.
Edinburgh Festival Theatre
image © Adrian Welch
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Kings Theatre context – Barclay Church
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Scottish capital Arts venue image © Adrian Welch
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photograph © Adrian Welch
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photo from Mansfield Traquair Centre
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Design: Malcolm Fraser Architects
Scottish Poetry Library
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image © Adrian Welch
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