Plans have been revealed to restore a disused theatre back to public use some 60 years after it closed. The theatre, on Westbourne Grove in west London, was built in 1862 as the Victoria Hall, although renamed the Bijou Theatre in 1893. After a short stint as a cinema in 1911-18, it reopened as a theatre and was renamed the Twentieth Century Theatre in 1936.

However, it closed in 1962 and has been used as an antiques warehouse ever since.

(c) Aspect Foundation / Caruso St John Architects

It has now been acquired by the Aspect Foundation for Music and Arts, a charity that organises chamber music concerts, and after ten years of renting halls, now plans to establish a  permanent home at the Twentieth Century Theatre.

The theatre is much larger than it seems from the street, as the bulk of the theatre space is behind the row of shops on Westbourne Grove, and the entrance sits where there used to be a shop. Less well known is that it also curves around the corner to the neighbouring Portabello Road, which is the entrance to the antiques warehouse.

The plan, which has now been submitted to the council for approval, is to restore the building back to its heyday as a theatre while bringing it up to modern standards.

The former theatre hall, which is up on the first floor, capable of accommodating an audience of 175, will be restored and used for the Foundation’s core programme of classical chamber music performances, A new education and multi-purpose space on the ground floor, with a capacity of 100, will have a day and evening programme aimed at community participation.

The frontage on Westbourne Grove would also be refurbished with the building’s new name – the Aspect Theatre.

(c) Aspect Foundation / Caruso St John Architects

The architects are Caruso St John Architects, and the decision to approve restoring the building back to a working theatre space now lies with Kensington and Chelsea Council.

More details are on Aspect Music’s website.


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