Restoration of the Kings

Restoration of the Kings

In 2001, after a successful campaign by AKTER (Action for Kings Theatre Restoration) to keep the theatre open, the theatre was purchased by Portsmouth City Council and leased to the Kings Theatre Trust Ltd who undertook the restoration of the building, whilst the Kings Theatre Southsea Ltd operated it on a day-to-day basis. Since then the Trust has invested over £2 million in an extensive restoration programme of this Edwardian playhouse, the majority of costs being met through the Theatre’s own Box Office revenue, supplemented by the generous support of private individuals, public bodies and grants from Trusts and Foundations.


  • With the purchase of the third shop lying between the Front and Stalls entrance on Albert Road, in 2017, the Theatre’s expansion plans can now move forward.
  • Re-positioning and redecoration of the toilets on the Dress Circle level
  • New Parent Room with Baby Change created


August 2012 to October 2013

  • No 28 Albert Road refurbished as an activity centre and offices renovated
  • Tower Room ceiling restored and room redecorated for use an Artist’s Studio
  • Tower Room and Long Bar rewired and laced with modern IT and other facilities
  • Western side roofs of stage house refurbished and side stage walls re-pointed

December 2009 – July 2012

  • Restoration of the Irving Room as both the Upper Circle bar, and also an education space
  • Redecoration and smartening up of corridors, staircase and public areas

April 2009 – December 2009

  • Bar front and “wedding cake” in the Stage bar stained and grained by Ms Gillian Stevenson
  • Box doors restored and recovered by Mr Peter Jackman
  • All boxes decorated and wallpapered by the volunteer working parties
  • Stalls corridor glazed bricks uncovered by the volunteer working parties
  • Stalls corridor redecorated by the NATS Project Management Team
  • Dress Circle promenade and corridors redecorated by the volunteer working parties
  • Upper Circle staircase redecorated by the volunteer working parties
  • “Kings Theatre” sign on east side of Albert Road staircase block repainted by muralist, Mr James Porter

October 2008 – March 2009

  • Restoration of the Tower on the corner of Albert Road and Exmouth Road. The work included:
    • Glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) replica cupola fitted to the top of the Tower
    • English Heritage approved GRP replica “Aurora” lady statue fitted to the top of the cupola, including a fibre optic lit torch (originally displayed in the foyer)
    • GRP replica lions fitted on the parapets
    • Irving Room windows replaced with replicas of the original, including the painted glass
    • General repairs and maintenance of the fabric of the Tower
    • Redecoration of the Tower


The Kings Theatre won Best Restored Building by the Portsmouth Society’s Annual Design Awards and was presented with a Blue Plaque.

June 2008 – September 2008

  • Restoration of the Dress Circle bar
  • Pillars in stage bar “marbled” by Mr Glen Filer
  • Installation of the second phase of powered flying
  • Refurbishment of the shower and toilets on the top floor of the dressing room block
  • Repairs to the east wall of the stage house

June 2007 – September 2007

  • Restoration of the main auditorium, including the ceiling (which had last been redecorated in 1964)
  • Improvements to the architectural lighting of the auditorium
  • Improvements to the stage lighting and performance sound positions in the auditorium
  • Further refurbishment of internal doors, including restoration of the original leaded glass
  • Restoration of the Gallery
  • Redecoration of the Gallery toilets
  • Redecoration of the level access corridor to the stalls
  • Removal of wallpaper to reveal the Art Nouveau tiling at stalls level
  • Plaster coving in Stage bar replicated by Mr John Fowler

Beginning on 17 June 2007, the theatre was cleared and scaffolding was constructed to allow access to the higher areas of the auditorium. There was work to restore the decorations of the theatre and maintain the areas. During this work, a small 120 seat theatre was created within the auditorium which was known as the Stage 2 Studio. The Studio season was such a success that it was repeated during the Summer of 2008 (throughout August) with music, comedy, children's shows, drama and dance all part of the line-up.

May 2006 – February 2007

  • Replacement of the advertising sign over the portico
  • Refurbishment of the Exmouth Road Elevation of the building
  • Refurbishment of further internal doors, including restoration of the original leaded glass
  • Installation of some automatic fire door catches
  • Repair of the floor of the Irving Room bar and putting the room back in use
  • Redecoration of the Stalls bar

August 2005 – November 2005

  • Restoration of the rear elevation of the building
  • Installation of a powered flying system over the stage
  • Refurbishment of the Dress Circle gentlemen’s toilets
  • Refurbishment of some Dress Circle doors, including restoration of the original leaded glass
  • Installation of some automatic fire door catches
  • Improvements to the IT network and Box Office ticket system
  • Purchase of a new lighting desk

October 2004 – July 2005

  • Replaced telephone system
  • Refurbished old carpenter’s store as a new office
  • Redecorated Dress Circle ladies toilets

June 2004 – September 2004

  • Refurbished Box Office and improved layout
  • Replacement of IT network cabling and improvements to Box Office ticketing system
  • Refurbishment of old office as a hospitality room
  • Repairs to roofs and brickwork to prevent water ingress
  • Minor works to Tower to prevent further decay
  • Refurbished the stage bar
  • Tidying of exterior décor and improvements to floodlighting and marketing displays
  • Repair and cleaning of main house curtains
  • Improve stage flying system with 6 new winch bars for stage lighting
  • Removed rotten orchestra pit floor and put back to proper position

September 2003 – June 2004

Further H&S work carried out to improve the Theatre’s condition

  • Implementation of H&S procedures, including first aid courses and COSSH
  • Strengthening to wooden access ladders and provision of safety hoops
  • Clearance of silt and debris from under stage well to allow proper drainage
  • Improvements to security system with additional sensors and CCTV surveillance
  • Repair of neon “Kings” sign on Tower front
  • Repair of rotten window in Irving Room and guttering above Albert Road Entrance
  • Refurbishment of canopy in Exmouth Road and bay window above
  • Strengthening of main entrance portico
  • Made access to roof void safe and refurbished auditorium chandelier winches

May 2003 – August 2003

H&S Grant received to stabilise the theatre. This included:

  • Implementation of proper certification for all mechanical and electrical systems
  • Improved husbandry and removal of redundant equipment
  • Removal of asbestos from safety curtain guides and sealing of asbestos on rear surface
  • Renewal of stage lighting cabling in auditorium and upgrade to 26 lanterns
  • Replacement of old stage lighting dimmers with new

July 2002 – October 2002

  • New heating system
  • Motorised safety curtain
  • Redecoration and provision of extra ladies toilets


July 2001 – October 2001

Work carried out to reopen and re-license the theatre. This included:

  • Health and Safety work to license the theatre, including much rubbish clearance
  • Refurbishment of all dressing rooms
  • Redecoration of the Main Foyer, Dress Circle and Stalls bars

Thank You

The restoration work at the Kings Theatre has been supported by private individuals and grant funding from public bodies and private trust and foundations.  These include; Foundation for Sport and the Art, The Boris Karloff Charitable Foundation, D’Oyly Carte Charitable Foundation, JSF Pollitzer Charitable Trust, Steel Charitable Foundation, Charlotte Bonham-Carter Foundation, Coutts Charitable Trust, John and Ruth Howard Charitable Trust, Lionel Wigram Memorial Trust, Kessler Foundation, Garfield Weston, Manifold Trust, Mercers, Ellis Campbell Foundation and the Helen and Geoffrey de Freitas Charitable Trust.