Designed in 1926 by architect Sir A Brumwell Thomas, the construction started two years later on an acre plot, formerly a potato field. In 1931, the purpose-built Princes Theatre (now the Grade II-listed Clacton Town Hall building) was officially opened on 14th April by Prince Arthur of Connaught.
At the time it was managed and owned by Clacton Urban District Council, which then changed to Tendring District Council in 1974. The capacity changed a few times, from 1,250 seats to 1,008 in 1961, and at present 820.
The Princes Theatre now stages more than 150 shows, seminars, exhibitions, meetings, weddings and events per year. Situated in the town centre, the building is a hub of entertainment for Clacton-on-Sea.
The proscenium has a broad moulded frame and segmental arch, with a central coat-of-arms bearing the legend ‘Lux Salubritas Et Felicitas’ (‘Light, Health & Happiness’).
Many of the original mechanical devices in the Princes theatre are still used today including a 20 bar hemp rope counterweight flying system, a 2 ton iron safety curtain on the stage to keep the cast crew and audience safe in the event of a fire and an original ‘lantern’, angled windows that drop open above the stage to expel heat and smoke like a giant chimney.
The staff and management are passionate about ensuring its doors stay open for another 90 years.
Information provided by: Princes Theatre, Tendring District Council