Historical Research Committee visit The Peacock (ex Royalty) Theatre

27 February 2020

Yesterday, the ABTT Historical Research Committee visited the Peacock (ex Royalty) Theatre. The manager and technical manager showed members over the whole building and we enjoyed some real archaeological success. 

There are few reminders of the double revolve and lift, but the basic mechanics of the Royalty Follies watertank lift remain in situ with the lift in the up position.
The original 1960 Hall’s controller for the revolves, footlight mechanisms, and curtains is being kept and safeguarded by the technical manager, (see above picture) and the tubes in the auditorium ceiling which housed cages in which showgirls were lowered are clearly visible. We were told that the mechanisms, minus cages, remain, unfortunately the roof void contains asbestos and is sealed so we could not visit.

The variable proscenium panels are still in place but not used and a cupboard in the Royal Retiring Room has the last remnants of cream and red flock wallpaper which used to be all over the auditorium walls.

The vast projection/followspot room retains its four large projection ports, complete with Burkitt shutters (Note that 1960 was very late for a Burkitt installation).  The room is now used as an office.

The real find of the day was in the boiler room which is at the north west corner of the building.  Much of the walls date back to the former Stoll Theatre and two coal delivery chutes remain!  A large area was devoted to oil tanks, which are still in place but empty, and the boilers now run on gas.

A curiosity is the vast number of stageweights on and around the stage.  We saw two piles of thirty and there were a large number in use on the bases of the sidelighting booms.  With a few round TV braceweights in the basement there must be around 100 in the theatre.