About The Royal Victoria Hall Theatre

The Royal Victoria Hall, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, was the first municipal theatre built in England under the Local Government Act 1894. It was erected to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and in September 1899, Her Majesty granted permission to use the Royal Arms and it was officially opened on the 17th of January 1900 for holding meetings and entertainments for the benefit of the 10,000 people in the district which is contiguous to the Borough of Tunbridge Wells.

The original cost of the building was £5,000, towards which the late Sir David Salomons, a local landowner and philanthropist, contributed £3,000 with the intention of making an affordable theatre available for the community. In 1974 during Local Government reorganisation in England and Wales under the Local Government Act 1972 the ownership and management of the hall reverted to Southborough Town Council from the Southborough Urban District Council.

Architecture : It was supported by Southborough Urban District Council whose surveyor designed it, but it was said that ‘the plans were really Sir David’s own’. A red brick, rectangular building with a low fly tower and, originally, a chapel-like facade set back from the road. It now has a later, plain forward extension, with a curved gable bearing a resited date stone reading ‘1897’ and the inscription, ROYAL VICTORIA HALL. A pretty cast iron porch was removed and replaced by 'modern' canopy. The auditorium was designed with a scenic stage, permanent seating in a straight-across end balcony (on two decorative columns) and a flat floor. Square reeded proscenium arch with decorative panels featuring swags and drops either side. Panelled dado with red flock wall paper above reaching to deep plain coving and decorative ventilation grilles. Reasonable stage with dressing room facilities behind. The alterations to the entrance, the provision of a new box office and the insertion of a bar running the full length of the hall occurred in 1977-1979. Although a multi-purpose hall, run by the local authority, it was licensed for stage plays and authorised to use the Royal coat of arms from the beginning.