Restoration of the Kings


The Kings is recognised as a theatre of national importance and with this comes a responsibility to take care of it.

Since the Kings Theatre was saved from being sold and turned into a pub in 2001, the Kings Theatre Trust Ltd has spent over £2.5 million upgrading and restoring this magnificent Grade II* Listed theatre.

But there is still a lot to do, should you be interested in discussing the restoration of the building please do get in touch with Darren Smith at

The Kings would like to express its gratitude for the financial support given by private individuals and grants from public bodies, private trusts and charitable 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
  • Theatres Trust
  • Manifold Trust
  • Mercers
  • Ellis Campbell Foundation
  • The Helen and Geoffrey de Freitas Charitable Trust.
  • The Equity Charitable Trust
  • The Pilgrim Trust
  • Astor Foundation
  • Foyle Foundation

Work continues with a rolling restoration programme to preserve the theatre whilst adapting it for our 21st-century audiences.

Restoration Timeline

Work carried out to reopen and re-license the theatre. This included health and safety work to license, including much rubbish clearance, refurbishment of all dressing rooms and redecoration of the Main Foyer, Dress Circle and Stalls bars.
New heating system installed, motorised safety curtain, redecoration and provision of extra ladies toilets.
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 the auditorium and upgrade to 26 lanterns.
Further health and safety work carried out to improve the Theatre’s condition including the 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 and making access to roof void safe and refurbished auditorium chandelier winches.
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 and removed rotten orchestra pit floor and put back to proper position.
Replaced telephone system, refurbished old carpenter’s store as a new office and redecorated Dress Circle ladies toilets.
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 plus the purchase of a new lighting desk.
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 and the redecoration of the Stalls bar.
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.
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 and plaster coving in Stage bar replicated by Mr John Fowler.
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 and repairs to the east wall of the stage house.
The Kings Theatre won Best Restored Building by the Portsmouth Society’s Annual Design Awards and was presented with a Blue Plaque.
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
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.
Restoration of the Irving Room as both the Upper Circle bar, and also an education space plus the redecoration and smartening up of corridors, staircase and public areas.
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-painted.
Work in 2016 included re-positioning and redecoration of the toilets on the Dress Circle level, a new Parent Room with Baby Change created on the Dress Circle level, and a new LED image and video display installed on the Tower.
With the purchase of the third shop lying between the Front and Stalls entrance on Albert Road, in 2017, the Theatre’s development plans can now move forward.
A Development Group is set up to work on the expansion plans of the Theatre for 24/26/28 Albert Road in conjunction with Portsmouth City Council & Historic England.
Restoration work across the summer period included replacing the long-standing safety curtain in the Theatre. In addition, two backstage areas were upgraded including improvements to the Theatre's 'Green Room' space for Visiting Companies. Additional restoration to replace over 40 damaged hand painted and stained glass windows.
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