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King's Theatre

Located on Leven Street in the Tollcross district of Edinburgh, a half mile (1 km) southwest of the city centre, is the King's Theatre. This fine Edwardian building sports a red sandstone facade and a well-conserved interior. It is the work of two minor architects, who had developed a reputation for theatre design; namely James Davidson of Coatbridge and J.D. Swanston of Kirkcaldy. The builder was local, William Stewart Cruikshank, whose son, A. Stewart Cruikshank, was to run the theatre. The philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1918) laid the foundation stone in 1905, and the theatre opened in 1906. There were originally three balconies, although the highest was removed in 1951, yet the theatre still seats 1350 people. The red sandstone comes from Closeburn Quarry in Dumfriesshire.

The theatre became the headquarters of Howard & Wyndham, a company which ran a chain of theatres throughout Britain, with Cruikshank as Managing Director from 1928. The company was renowned for holding its Annual General Meeting on Christmas Eve, which ensured minimal interference from their shareholders. The theatre was sold in 1966 to the City of Edinburgh Council, who passed management to the Festival City Theatres Trust in 1998. Today the theatre runs a programme including drama, variety, musicals and opera throughout the year, as well as acting as a regular Festival venue and a long tradition of hosting pantomime, with stars such as Stanley Baxter (b.1926), Rikki Fulton (1924 - 2004), Jimmy Logan (1928 - 2001) and Tommy Lorne (1890 - 1935).


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