The King's Theatre, Edinburgh was built in 1905 by Edinburgh builder, William Stewart
Cruikshank. Andrew Carnegie laid the foundation stone and the Theatre was opened in 1906
with a performance of Cinderella and managed by A Stewart Cruikshank. Initially the
programming of the theatre was undertaken under contract by Howard & Wyndham and A
Stewart Cruikshank became a Director (and in 1928 Managing Director) of this company
which managed a chain of theatres in Britain rivalling Moss Empires. Moss Empires were the
owners of The Empire Palace Theatre, which is now the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, the
King’s sister theatre. JB Howard and Fred Wyndham founded the company in 1883 when
they built the Royal Lyceum Theatre both having trained in Edinburgh under William Murray
at the Theatre Royal.

The King's Theatre became the headquarters of Howard & Wyndham and they held their
board meetings there and famously their AGM on Christmas Eve - which guaranteed minimal
interference from shareholders! After A Stewart Cruikshank retired, his son Stewart inherited
the Managing Directorship. Howard and Wyndham sold the Royal Lyceum Theatre to
Edinburgh Council in 1965 and after Stewart Cruikshank's death in 1966 a similar deal was
done with the King's Theatre. The Royal Lyceum was subsequently managed by a Trust but
the local authority managed the King's Theatre until July 1998 when the operation merged
with the Festival Theatre and Festival City Theatres Trust now manages both Theatres.
The Theatre originally had Stalls and three circles - Dress, Family and Gallery. The Gallery
was uncomfortable and latterly unsafe and was removed in the fifties reducing the Theatre to
three levels with additional seating at the back of what is now called the Upper Circle. The
present seating capacity is 1350. The interior décor is very ornate with nine boxes either side
of the proscenium and there are fine examples of Edwardian stained glass in the foyer doors.
The present Upper Circle bar area was originally a Billiard Room and there were shops either
side of the entrance at street level.

A major refurbishment was undertaken in the mid 1980s when new seating was installed at
every level.

The King's Theatre was built as a variety theatre and has a long tradition of pantomime with
such stars as Stanley Baxter, Rikki Fulton and Jimmy Logan. There is also a long tradition of
amateur operatic and musical work in Edinburgh which for some years now has taken place
at the King's Theatre.
There are plans currently in motion for a new refurbishment of the King’s Theatre, to bring this
much loved Edinburgh theatre back up to it’s former glory, to allow another century of top
class drama and pantomime.

For more information click here to visit the King's Theatre website.