In 2014 the Grade II listed Civic Theatre in Darlington secured Heritage Lottery Funding to renovate and restore the building back to its Edwardian grandeur as well as securing its future use as a theatre. TEP, on behalf of our client Willmot Dixon Construction Limited, undertook a Historic Environment Desk-based Assessment of the theatre and associated buildings.
The theatre was originally called the New Hippodrome and Palace of Varieties and opened in 1907. It was owned by Signor Rino Pepe an Italian ex-patriot, who created a chain of music halls across northern England. The theatre continued in private ownership until competition from cinema and television led to a gradual decline of the building and it was put up for sale in 1956, being bought by the Darlington Corporation in 1958. The building is still in the ownership of Darlington Borough Council.
The building is a rare survivor of an early variety theatre and pre-dates the Cinematographic Act of 1909 with a distinctive exterior that has not been compromised by modern additions.
TEP’s historic environment and archaeology team prepared an assessment that provided a historic record of the theatre as well as recommendations to mitigate any effects of the renovation works on the building’s heritage value.