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Webster Memorial Theatre, 64 High Street

A Category C Listed Building in Arbroath, Angus

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.5581 / 56°33'29"N

Longitude: -2.5814 / 2°34'52"W

OS Eastings: 364363

OS Northings: 740828

OS Grid: NO643408

Mapcode National: GBR VV.NY5F

Mapcode Global: WH8S8.BF0C

Plus Code: 9C8VHC59+6F

Entry Name: Webster Memorial Theatre, 64 High Street

Listing Name: 64 High Street, Webster Memorial Theatre

Listing Date: 18 December 2009

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400300

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51409

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Arbroath

County: Angus

Town: Arbroath

Electoral Ward: Arbroath East and Lunan

Traditional County: Angus

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Arbroath

Description

James Maclaren, 1865; renovated and extended 1951, 1967 and 2008. Well-detailed 2-storey, 5-bay Classical public hall and theatre in prominent High Street position, with modern extensions to rear. Ground floor with channelled detail and vermiculated quoins, polished ashlar Doric columns and pilasters, carved head keystone over centre door; 1st floor with vermiculated pilasters with later high relief carved thistle capitals supporting entablature with triglyphed frieze and cavetto cornice; centre pediment with blind oculus in tympanum is flanked by further set-back entablature with plain (altered?) frieze and carved detail at dies. Ashlar with dry dash to sides and rear. Roundheaded openings to centre door at ground and 1st floor. Keystoned hoodmoulds and voussoirs.

FURTHER DETAIL: principal E elevation with modern semicircular canopy fronting 3 centre bays which comprise 2-leaf door and decoratively-astragalled semicircular fanlight to blind portico at centre flanked by deep-set 2-leaf doors with multi-pane fanlights; windows to outer bays. 1st floor with regular full-height fenestration. All bays with dividing pilasters.

8- and 12-pane glazing patterns in timber sash and case windows at principal elevation. Grey slates.

INTERIOR: largely reworked during 2008 modernisation, including foyer, staircase and theatre. 1st floor hall retains fine decorative plasterwork to cornices and ceiling.

Statement of Interest

The principal elevation of the Webster Memorial Theatre, by local architect James Maclaren, has retained much of its original character and it makes a significant contribution to Arbroath's largely 19th century High Street. Formerly known as The Public Hall, the building was renovated in 1951, the stage and auditorium were enlarged in 1970 and further work was carried out in 2007 after which the building was re-opened by Provost Ruth Leslie Melville MBE on 19th January 2008. The success of this work was recognised when Angus Council Property Division received the 2008 RIAS DIA award for Best Example of Environmental Improvement / Conservation.

When opened in 1865, the building contained 'a museum and a large hall for concerts and public meetings' (Groome). It hosted touring plays and vaudeville, but was not successful until local flax manufacturers, the Webster family, gave their support and eventually gifted it to the town in memory of their son who was killed in the First World War. During the 1930s the Arbroath Follies became popular summer spectacles.

The 1st floor hall retains portraits of Janet Webster (1819-1908) and Sir Francis Webster (her son). The latter, by Robert Gibb RSA, was presented by 'Arbroath Liberals and Other Friends, In Recognition of His Eminent Public Services, Arbroath 20 April 1912'.

Architect James Maclaren was born in Dundee in 1829, he worked at David Bryce's Edinburgh office and won the Soane medallion in 1848. He returned to Dundee in 1850 and set up practice with his brother. Maclaren worked extensively in the Angus, Dundee and Perth area and during the 1860s his commissions included industrial work at Cox's Stack, Dundee, churches at Forfar and Hawkhill, tenements at Broughty Ferry and Blackness, hotels, private house and public buildings.

Listed as part of the Theatres Thematic Study 2008-09.

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