Tivoli Theatre, 1, Trinity Street/ Guild Street, Aberdeen

General Details and Location

Name of Building
Tivoli Theatre
Other Name(s)
Her Majesty's Theatre (Former); Her Majesty's Opera House
1, Trinity Street/ Guild Street, Aberdeen
Postcode (click to find nearby buildings)
Planning Authority (click to search)
Divisional Area (click to search)
Reference No
Listing Category
OS Grid Ref
NJ 94189 06033
Location Type
HS Reference No


3 storey granite-faced building in 7 bays with an eaves attic, built in the Venetian Gothic style with 2 colour banded voussoirs. Doorways on the ground floor are seperated by polished columns and topped by ogee arches. The second and third floors display rectangular fenestration with round headed arches above. The roof is pitched and in slate with overhanging eaves. A 3 storey partition with gablet sits to the side. Concrete is employed in the side, back, and party walls, and the building is credited as the first in Scotland to use concrete on any considerable scale.

The building was originally built by C. J. Phipps and James Matthews in 1872 as Her Majesty's Theatre. Frank Matcham undertook alterations, including a reconstructed interior, in 1897 and 1909, and the building reopened in 1910 as the Tivoli Theatre. Front of house and the understage areas were remodelled c.1949. In 1966 it became a bingo hall. The Theatres Trust regards the theatre as "one of Britain's most important Sleeping Beauties still awaiting recall to life".
Building Dates
1872; 1897; 1910
Charles John Phipps and James Matthews; Frank Matcham

Category of Risk and Development History

Category of Risk
Exemptions to State of Risk
Field Visits
August 2000, March 2003, October 2003, 11/06/2008, 29/11/2012
Development History
1987: Planning Permission is granted to Top Flight Leisure to convert the former dressing rooms into a bar complex. 12 May 1997: The Scotsman reports on the final closure of the building, after the withdrawal of its regular bingo nights. Aberdeen City Council, which is keen to see the building returned to theatrical use, has been unable to secure the funds to purchase it for the City. 1997: The building is purchased by a local slater for £200,000. August 2000: External inspection would suggest that the building is starting to show signs of decay, with windows broken and vegetation growth in the guttering. 19 September 2002: The Aberdeen Evening Express reports that The Tivoli Theatre Trust is actively seeking to purchase the building and return it to theatrical use. TTT is seeking Lottery funding totaling £7 million, and has completed a detailed business plan. It aims to raise £20,000 for a complete structural survey, before conducting a feasibility study to ascertain whether returning the building to theatrical use is economically viable. The auditorium would seat 700. It is reported that Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera have expressed tentative interest in staging their productions at the Tivoli. May 2003: Local planners report no change. 25 September 2003: The Aberdeen Evening News reports that the theatre may be eligible for conservation grants, following the establishment of a new City Heritage Trust. October 2003: External inspection reveals that the theatre is now being marketed. 28 April 2004: The Aberdeen Press and Journal reports on the building. 1 May 2004: The Aberdeen Press and Journal reports that Aberdeen City Council has ruled out converting the Tivoli into the proposed 600-700 seat mid-scale entertainment venue for the city. June 2006: Aberdeen Citizen report that the the Tivoli Trust are currently in negotiations with the owner of the Theatre regading a purchase price of less than the original £500K. It is estimated that it will cost £1.7 miliion to restore the Theatre. September 2007: Aberdeen Citizen reports that the Tivoli Trust have won nearly £50,000 in grants from the Heritage Lottery which will be spent on three surveys; fabric of the building; potential audiences and conservation/ environmental issues.
June 2008: External inspection finds the theatre appears to be in a fair condition but remains vacant with sale signage attached.
August 2008: The Tivoli Theatre will be open as part of Doors Open Day 2009 on 13 September, see Doors Open Day website for information.
February 2009: SCT is contacted by The Ferryhill Heritage Society who advises that there is evidence to suggest the presence of dry rot in the theatre.
March 2009: The Herald reports that a bus has crashed into the theatre doors and damaged them. They have been boarded over and await repair.
July 2009: Aberdeen Evening Express reports on the launch of The Green Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), with the first works to commence this month. £1.4 million has been secured from HLF, with a further £1.4 million from the City Council, Historic Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. The article notes four priority projects, of which The Tivoli is one.
July 2009: BBC News website reports on the sale of the property to businessman Brian Hendry who plans a 3 year restoration project to return the theatre to use. The Tivoli Trust are reported to be hopeful that works can commence ahead of schedule following the sale. The Press & Journal repeats the story of the change of ownership and the plans to restore the building.
September 2009: The Aberdeen Evening Express reports on the restoration project ahead for the Tivoli. The owner wishes to work with the THI project to secure the building‘s future.
June 2010: BBC news website reports a decision on a funding package for the theatre is due shortly.
June 2010: Press and Journal reports
The Green Township Heritage Initiative (THI) is offering a grant of up to £520,000 for external repairs to the theatre, providing owner Brian Hendry can prove his plans are commercially viable. The building‘s new owner, Brian Hendry, is reported to have satisfied these conditions and hopes to commence essential repairs, including the construction of a new roof, in September.
The Green Township Heritage Initiative is a five-year programme run by Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen City Heritage Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, which aims to restore the area between Union Street and Guild Street.
August 2010: Press and Journal reports on detailed plans for restoration having been submitted to Aberdeen City Council. If permissions are granted, the first, exterior, works are expected to take 4-6 mths with internal redevelopment beginning next year.
September 2010: Press & Journal reports on a plan to film the restoration of the Tivoli theatre. The documentary will chart the progress of the restoration while using archive footage and interviews to recount its rich history.
November 2010: Press and Journal reports the Tivoli has secured £500,000 grant aid from The Green Townscape Heritage Initiative. The funds will be used to reinstate architectural details to the Guild Street elevation, as well as carrying out repairs to roof, masonry, windows and doors.
November 2011: The Green THI November porject update notes roofing works are complete, with Union Street elevation windows being replaced/ repaired and structural repairs to the concrete render on the rear elevation. Moved to Restoration in Progress.
23 April 2012: The owner of the theatre advises the building is now wind and water tight. Internal restoration is hoped to commence this year to enable part of the building to open in late 2012, with at least 60% open by September 2013.
11 September 2012: Local planners report external works have completed. Plans to bring the building back into use continue.
29 November 2012: External inspection finds the exterior restored.
17 December 2012: Tivoli's owner reports the theatre re-opened as a gallery with a viewing area at the end of November. Internal reconstructions works continue to allow the theatre to fully return to use.
20 March 2014: £47,723 grant aid from the Historic Scotland Building Repair Grant Scheme has been awarded towards internal restoration of the ornate plasterwork and frescos, as part of the redevelopment of the building into a multi-use venue.

Guides to Development

Conservation Area
Union Street
Planning Authority Contact
PAC Telephone Number
08456 081207


Current Availability
Not Available
Appointed Agents
Occupancy Type
Present/Former Uses
Name of Owners
Tivoli Theatre Company Ltd
Type of Ownership

Information Services

Additional Contacts/Information Source
Brogden (1998), pp15-16; Peter (1999); Aberdeen Daily Journal, 16 July 1910; The Builder, 8 May 1897 and 4 December 1909; Building News, 23 August 1872.
Original Entry Date
Date of Last Edit