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IoE Number: 469317
Location: BELGRADE THEATRE, BELGRADE SQUARE (south west side)
  COVENTRY, COVENTRY, WEST MIDLANDS
Photographer: N/A
Date Photographed: N/A
Date listed: 12 June 1998
Date of last amendment: 12 June 1998
Grade II

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SP 3379 SW COVENTRY BELGRADE SQUARE (south west side) 833/4/10021 Belgrade Theatre II Includes: Belgrade Theatre, UPPER WELLS STREET. Includes: Belgrade Theatre, CORPORATION STREET. Civic repertory theatre, incorporating flats and offices. 1956-8 by Coventry City Architect's Department: chief architect Arthur Ling, principal architect Douglas Beaton, group architect Kenneth G King with H W Pearson, K Edgar, M McLellan, W Armstrong, Jean Hanney and G Bryson. Peter Jay engineer, with the Building Research Establishment. Steel frame clad in whitbed and roach Portland stone with spar dash finish to exposed concrete of auditorium shell and brick to Corporation street elevation; that to Belgrade Square with five panels of double-height glazing. Entrance at junction of Belgrade Square and Corporation Street gives left on to cafe with restaurant over, and right on to double-height foyer the length of the facade. Behind this the auditorium with boxes and gallery which rises behind facade. Backstage area not of special interest. Offices over foyer, the Corporation Street facade with 6 shops and originally 21 flats for visiting actors now mainly used as offices. The foyer with auditorium rising behind make a symmetrical composition to Belgrade Square, with metal framed glazing. City crest on auditorium wall. Offset entrance to left under small balcony with straight metal balusters. Corporation Street elevation projects on columns over shops, which are not of special interest. Cafe with blind panels of stone between metal windows, on which survives original lettering 'BELGRADE THEATRE'. First floor restaurant in projecting first floor frame incorporating relief by J C (Jimmie) Brown based on C17 engraving of Belgrade. The 21 former flats with square windows in rendered surrounds. The interior survives with little alteration to the public areas save that the entrance was remodelled in 1984 and a coffee bar installed. Long narrow foyer on two floors with pierced openings and open well stairs to either end. Ground floor mural by Martin Froy depicting the four seasons in tesserae. Hanging lamps by Bernard Shottlander, a good example of Coventry's post-war policy of including works by German artists and craftsmen in many of their public building. 862-seat auditorium with stalls and single circle; a feature of the side walls are two tiers each of three stepped boxes, the upper ones giving the effect of loge seating. Two further boxes to rear of stalls either side of lighting and sound control box. Troughed ceiling lined with Yugoslavian beech, a gift of the City of Belgrade, its curves engineered by the BRE to give the best acoustical effect. Side walls of West African makoke veneer. Proscenium arch stage, with extendable forestage over orchestra pit. Backstage areas remodelled in early 1960s and in 1994 and not of special interest. The gift of beech wood promised by a Yugoslavian trade delegation in 1954 gave the theatre its name. The resulting design, especially with its loges, is the best example of the Royal Festival Hall (already listed) style adapted to theatrical use. The Belgrade is singularly important as Britain's first civic theatre, and the first professional theatre of any kind to be built after the Second World War. It is a significant and early element in the replanning of the new city. (Architects' Journal: 7 August 1958: 201-209; Architecture and Building: June 1958: 215-219; rchitect and Building News: 28June 1958: 797-804).

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