Contractors Complete £12.2 million Grand Opera House Restoration

    The £12.2 million restoration and development of the Grand Opera House in Belfast has been completed; it was delivered by specialist construction firm, Tracey Brothers Ltd, and more than 60 sub-contractors.

    The design of the foyer and public spaces has been totally reimagined, with a new bar installed in the restored 1980 glass extension overhanging Great Victoria Street, as well as beautifully refurbished stalls and circle bars.

    As part of the project, the Theatre’s technical infrastructure has been upgraded and a permanent heritage exhibition installed telling the fascinating story of the Theatre’s 125-year history. Facilities for those customers with access needs have also been greatly enhanced throughout.

    Commented Colin Loughran, Chairman of the Grand Opera House Trust: “The ambitious restoration project has delivered fantastic results and we are hugely confident that it will ensure the Theatre remains on the world stage as a centre for theatre-going and as a Belfast visitor and tourist attraction. We would like to thank our funding partners for their unwavering support which has helped to secure the Theatre for generations to come.”

    John Tracey, Director of Tracey Brothers, said: “The project was unusual as it was made up of two separate sites. The focus of the work was the extensive restoration of the 1895 listed building and the installation of state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems to meet modern-day theatregoer expectations. Alongside this was the reimagination of the 2006 extension to make it more sympathetic to the Matcham building, complete with a stunning helical staircase, enhanced bar and hospitality facilities, and the installation of new interpretative spaces telling the story of the Grand Opera House.

    Pictured at the unveiling of the results of the restoration project are (l-r): RoisÍn McDonough, Chief Executive. Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ian Wilson, Chief Executive, Grand Opera House; John Tracey, Director of Tracey Brothers; Colin Loughran, Chairman Grand Opera House Trust and Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland, National Lottery Heritage Fund.

    “Tracey Brothers are delighted to have been involved in the project and the quality of the final result is testament to all involved. We hope that the Grand Opera House continues, not only as a source of great entertainment for young and old alike, but also as a landmark Belfast venue to visit for many years to come.”

    As well as Tracey Brothers as main contractor, the project team included architects Consarc Design Group, interior design by Sundara Design, project management WH Stephens, special theatre consultants Charcoalblue, M&E by Semple & McKillop, and structural engineering by Albert Fry Associates.

    The Grand Opera House was designed by the leading Victorian theatre architect Frank Matcham and opened on 23 December 1895. Many of the world’s leading actors, singers, dancers and entertainers have appeared on its stage, including Charlie Chaplin, Sarah Bernhardt, Laurence Olivier, Vera Lynn, Luciano Pavarotti, Darcey Bussell and Laurel and Hardy.

    More in the next print issue of Plant & Civil Engineer magazine