Birth of a Great Dame
In 1878 The Theatre Royal was built on market gardening land by a company of Oddfellows. Nelson was a town of just 6,000 yet 1,000 people crammed in on opening night.
A THEATRE MADE OF TIMBER
The façade originally had a veranda that extended out over the footpath, native timber was used throughout, with rough sawn planks where there is now corrugated iron. The Theatre Royal is the oldest wooden theatre still in use in the Southern Hemisphere.
In 1904 the veranda was removed, raked seats were put in the gallery, a projection box was added with a side entry from the outside as the Theatre was swept into the era of the Silver Screen.
Repertory Saves the Day
By the 30s the building was run down, and theatre was at a low ebb. In 1934 Nelson Repertory was formed, at first performing in the Majestic. In 1944 Repertory bought the Theatre Royal, saving it from conversion into a joinery shop!