Former Grand Theatre, Llandudno
The Grand Theatre was mainly the work of the world-famous Edwardian theatre designer Edwin O Sachs. It was opened on bank holiday 5 August 1901, seating 1,100 in three tiers. It has been described as a West End theatre in miniature. An architectural/historical survey of every surviving pre-1914 theatre in Britain rated the importance of the Grand alongside London’s top West End playhouses. The main fabric of the theatre remains intact. In particular, the under-stage equipment is a particularly rare survival.
Matching the well-established Llandudno musical tradition, the Grand recruited a good full-time orchestra. It stayed open all year with a mixture of repertory and light variety. A season of grand opera was staged in 1926 and George Formby performed here in 1925.
Its greatest days were in the 1940s during World War Two. The BBC took it over for their evacuated Variety Department for a series of popular radio shows, such as Itma with Tommy Handley. The BBC Theatre Organ was evacuated to the Grand from London early in 1941 and was played for hour upon hour during the early part of the war to fill up radio airtime.
The photo on the left shows a play being staged at the Grand.
The Grand closed in 1980 but the building reopened in 1987 as a night club. However, the Broadway Boulevard closed in June 2013, and the Llandudno Seaside Buildings Preservation Trust began to explore ways of preserving and restoring the theatre.
FOOTNOTES: Personal recollections
With thanks to John Lawson-Reay, of the Llandudno & Colwyn Bay History Society
Postcode: LL30 1YR