VIDEO: A nostalgic trip down memory lane at Wigan theatre

Decades after it was last used, much of the equipment used to put on shows and films at what could be Wigan’s next big arts venue is still there.

The Wigan Post was granted a sneak peek inside the old Royal Court Theatre on King Street which has been bought by community culture hub The Old Courts.

Jess Rotherham outside the Royal Court Theatre in King Street

Jess Rotherham outside the Royal Court Theatre in King Street

Once the area which recently welcomed King Street revellers through the doors into the clubs Springbok and The Hub is passed, parts of the building are like time has stood still.

It is easy, seeing so many original features still there, to recall the days when up to 3,000 Wiganers could be accommodated to watch drama or the room would be packed for the latest Hollywood blockbusters.

And it is not a huge leap of the imagination from there to seeing how the team at the Crawford Street arts venue want the place to look when it stages events once more.

Although obviously gathering a good coat of dust, hundreds of red seats from the circle level are still inn place, as though ready for the curtain to lift again.

The former theatre, which opened its doors in 1889, is crammed with Victorian touches including beautiful ceilings and ornate decorations on the architecture holding up the higher seating tiers.

At the very top of the building stands the old projection room, with the metal door shielding it off and the sign indicating its function still very much in place.

Other original signs pointing out the necessary features of public buildings can also still be seen while some of the windows are fitted with lovely floral designs in coloured glass.

Slim, elegant, dark wooden bannisters edge the staircases which take patrons up to their seats from the ground floor, with both the carpets and the doors into the theatre painted in shades of red.

Sadly in recent years the area away from the downstairs floor where thundering dance music blared and drinks were bought from a temporary island bar has been somewhat neglected.

The seating and backstage areas have become something of a dumping ground, with piles of paraphernalia and rubbish accumulated there over the years.

However, The Old Courts team is determined to clear away all the waste and then get cracking on restoring it to its former cultural and theatrical splendour.

That, it is hoped, will then prove suitable for putting Wigan on the national map as a venue for high-profile theatre tours, stand-up comedians’ jaunts around the country and large bands and solo musicians.

The Old Courts says Wiganers are already lining up to get involved in the restoration project and it is keen to find out exactly what the building means to people by asking them to share their memories of the Royal Court Theatre and any anecdotes.

Stories about the place can be emailed to

Watch out for our gallery of pictures later in the week ...