Case Study

Theatre Royal restored using traditional plastering methods

The Drury Lane theatre harks back to its Georgian heritage with revived period detailing.

Built in 1812, the Theatre Royal is the fourth theatre to occupy Drury Lane since 1653. Its royal staircases, Grand Saloon and Rotunda are all examples of Regency-era extravagance, while a copy of Canova's Three Graces adds a touch of classical elegance. 

This London theatre has been in constant use for over 200 years, and its recent restoration was unveiled as it marked its 350th anniversary. The restoration took place over four months and cost £4 million. 

It was important for the theatre to be restored while staying true to its Georgian heritage. The standard of workmanship had to match the building's immaculate period features, including ornate ceilings, pillars and an archway. Blending old and new would mean using traditional plastering methods alongside modern ones, while giving fragile original details a new lease of life. 

In order to retain fine details such as cornices and leaves, damaged pieces were removed and used to form casts with fine casting plaster. The new pieces were then skilfully blended with the old. 

Depending on the required thickness, some of the arched walls within the theatre's lunettes were plastered with Thistle® BondingCoat plaster, while others were skimmed with Thistle BoardFinish. This followed a coat of Thistle Bond-it to provide a chemical and mechanical key for the plaster. The building was also updated to allow modern mechanical and electrical installations such as lighting and air conditioning to be integrated with the building's early 19th century architecture. 

Thanks to the success of the restoration, the Theatre Royal can continue to be cherished by its thousands of annual visitors for years to come. 

We care about building better. 



Project name
Theatre Royal
Building type
Retrofit & Refurbishment