Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26007 73258
326007, 673258


W and T R Milburn (Sunderland and London), 1927-9 (auditorium) with exterior by Law & Dunbar-Nasmith Partnership, 1994 (see Notes). Large, fine interior and distinctive 1994 theatre with 3-storey concave glass and steel entrance elevation to E (Nicolson Street) and concrete breezeblock to rear and S elevations.

INTERIOR: (seen 2007). Panelled timber doors from foyer lead to grand, impressive, richly decorated 3-storey auditorium with mixture of beaux-arts and Classical detailing. Pink, cream and gold colouring. Wide proscenium arch with decorative plasterwork. 2 pairs of tall, round-arched boxes flanking stage with decorative carving. Deep coffered ceiling with central dome. Timber flooring. Ionic columns support upper gallery. Decorative filigree moulding to front of boxes and galleries. Red plush velvet tip-up seats to all areas, including boxes. Later tiered Art Deco light fittings.

Later (1994) foyer and backstage areas.

Statement of Special Interest

The Edinburgh Festival Theatre is particularly notable for its grand, spacious and finely decorated interior, now enclosed in a late 20th century exterior with glass and steel street façade. The sumptuous interior is a good example of theatre design from the early 20th century by the specialist theatre designers, W and T R Milburn.

The current theatre is situated on a site which has been occupied by a succession of theatres since 1830 and which included one built by the celebrated Frank Matcham in 1892. By 1927, the theatre was beginning to look dated and was finding it difficult to compete with the new emerging film industry. It closed in 1927 and was rebuilt to a design by William and T R Milburn, who had replaced Matcham as the designers for Moss Empires. Their approach was less flamboyant and more classical than Matcham's and they designed a large auditorium with capacity for 2000 and with side aisles. This new theatre opened in 1929. It closed again in 1962 and was used until 1992 as a Bingo Hall. In 1994, the auditorium underwent restoration by the Edinburgh architects Law & Dunbar Nasmith Partnership and a new backstage and dressing rooms were built, together with a new frontage and foyer. This current theatre opened in 1994.

William and T R Millburn were specialist theatre architects who practised mainly in the North of England and who are associated especially with the Moss Empires chain of theatres.

List description revised as part of the Edinburgh Holyrood Ward resurvey 2007-08.



2nd Edition Ordnance Survey Map, (1876-7). Bruce Peter, Scotland's Splendid Theatres 1999, p36-42. Information from (accessed 14-05-07) John Gifford, Colin McWilliam and David Walker, The Buildings of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1984. p248. New Theatre from an old Variety Hall, Architects' Journal Vol 199, No 25, 1994 p29-34.

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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Printed: 25/06/2018 16:42