One of Wales' best loved theatres going to auction with a £0 reserve price
Monday, February 21, 2022
Chance to save a landmark building
A valleys theatre that once attracted the stars of the era and was one of Wales' premier venues is going to auction with a nil reserve price.
That means the Grade II former Theatre Royal and Opera House in Merthyr Tydil could be purchased for a very small bid, depending on who is in the bidding race to buy it.
The theatre was opened in May 1894 and was designed by local Merthyr architect T.C. Wakeling in a Neo-classical style to ensure its once grand design underlined its important standing within the town.
Website Merthyr History states the venue was equipped with a stage that was 28ft wide and 22ft deep, with six dressing rooms.
At the time it was built it cost £8,000 and had a seating capacity of 1,800.
During the 1920s the theatre started showing movies and had a remodelling. According to the website British Listed Buildings, the auditorium was completely rebuilt in the late 1920s with a large balcony inserted.
Iconic Art Deco features were added at this time, including a splendid sunburst ceiling rose, Deco-style cornices, borders and embellishments.
Website Cinema Treasures says that the venue was taken over by the Associated British Cinemas (ABC) chain in 1932, who gave the venue the Art Deco makeover.
It was leased to the Regent Theatres chain (a subsidiary of ABC) in May 1933 until 1935, when it returned to ABC management.
It was taken over by an independent operator in 1939, and in 1955 CinemaScope was fitted and a new 38ft wide proscenium was installed.
The Merthyr Tydfil building was given a Grade II listing by Cadw in 1975, amended in 1988.
The venue first closed in the late 1960s and was converted into a bingo club, but the doors closed for the final time in 2006 and has been empty since.
Plans for the site have been considered but never submitted and the building is now in a very poor state and on a number of the 'at risk' registers including the Theatres Trust and Save Britain's Heritage at risk registers.
Debra Bisley, of Paul Fosh Auctions who are selling the venue, said: "In the late 1920s the property was renovated internally in an Art Deco style.
"Apparently there is a sunburst ceiling rose which is said to be impressive although I do not know if it is still there as we have not been able to gain entry to the property.
"The property is more than likely to be of interest to local investors although we have had a number of enquiries from London investors hoping to return it back to a theatre and opera house.
"Unfortunately we don't have keys and have not been permitted access so what is inside remains as much of a mystery to us as well as any potential buyers. The identity of the current owner has not been revealed.
"The former theatre is being sold with a nil reserve which means the highest bid, no matter how low or even it is the sole bid, will secure the property."
Merthyr Tydfil's Theatre Royal and Opera House is going under the hammer online with Paul Fosh Auctions with bidding starting on Tuesday, March 8 and ending from 5pm on Thursday March 10. To find out more call them on 01633 254044.
Tue 12 Dec 2023, 12.00pm Paul Fosh Auctions, Newport, NP20 2AG
Tue 30 Jan 2024, 12.00pm Paul Fosh Auctions, Newport, NP20 2AG