by Anna Startin

A £2m facelift for the façade of Manchester’s historic Opera House theatre has been completed.

Salford-based MC Construction was the principal contractor for the scheme.

The restoration project included extensive repairs to the render, brickwork, windows and ironmongery fixings, weatherproofing works, the replacement of rainwater goods and a full decoration of the main façade to ensure a more historically authentic exterior and to help safeguard the venue for future generations to enjoy.

Careful analysis of the existing paint layers stretching back over a century was undertaken, so that the colour scheme of the 15-bay façade and windows now better reflects how the venue would have looked when it opened in 1912.

The theatre remained open throughout the restoration project.

The scheme forms a significant part of a £4.5m capital investment this financial year across the Opera House and its sister venue in Manchester city centre, the Palace Theatre, which are both owned by ATG Entertainment.

The Opera House is a grade II listed building which was originally called The New Theatre. It has been through several iterations and was renamed the Opera House in 1920.

It is one of the largest theatres in England, with a seating capacity of 1,920. The venue plays host to high-profile concerts, plays, musicals, ballets and a Christmas pantomime.

Famous shows performed there over the years include Phantom of the Opera, Barnum and Oliver! plus a host of world premieres, such as Bat Out of Hell: The Musical and Take That‘s musical The Band. During its long history, it has also served as a bingo hall and a cinema.

Russ Forshaw, managing director of MC Construction, said: “Drawing on our extensive experience of successfully delivering projects at numerous listed buildings and other landmarks across the city, such as The Whitworth art gallery, Manchester Museum and the Imperial Chinese Arch in Chinatown, we are delighted to have undertaken this restoration scheme at the Opera House, which is less than a mile from our company headquarters.


“Once again, our team have produced the goods and left their mark on a cherished Manchester building. It was great to work with the ATG Entertainment, whose ongoing investment in its buildings ensures they can continue to delight audiences across the north west and beyond.”


Robin Hawkes, theatre director at the Opera House and Palace Theatre, said: “In tandem with the Palace, the Opera House has been a jewel in the heart of Manchester’s cultural fabric for many generations.

“I am delighted we’ve been able to restore and refresh the theatre’s beautiful Edwardian exterior, as part of a wider suite of works which will improve the experience of everybody visiting and using the two venues for years to come.”


Stefan Ziemelis, senior project manager at ATG Entertainment, added: “In addition to delivering essential repair works, this project has also been driven by the celebration of the intrinsic character and uniqueness that is woven into this heritage building.


“Working with our partners to breathe new life into the Opera House has been a rewarding experience, and it’s good to know that the work we have completed here will preserve and protect the theatre for future generations of theatre lovers.


“The façade restoration project has been carried out by MC Construction and its partners in a thoroughly professional manner with minimal disruption to our patrons, and we are delighted with the outcome.”

Russ Forshaw, managing director of MC Construction

Other professionals involved in the Opera House restoration project included Motion Project Management, Osbornes Chartered Architects, quantity surveyors Marshall Kenny and design consultancy ORSA.

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