Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


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

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

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 1997 Act. 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 subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 03/10/2023 12:10