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20th Century Revival: A Victorian Theatre that Once Staged Oscar Wilde is Tipped for Renovation and Reopening

20th Century Revival: A Victorian Theatre that Once Staged Oscar Wilde is Tipped for Renovation and Reopening

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London could be getting a new, and very historic, revival theatre.

A very old, and very classic Grade II Listed theatre in Notting Hill has been tipped for revival. The Aspect Foundation, basically patrons of the arts in the finest of ways, put in for planning permission to revive the space and use it as a concert hall with a capacity of 175. 

Submitting a planning application is just the first step in a lengthy process with no guarantee of success or declared date of completion, but it does leave us much to get excited about. Not least because of the space itself. 

The 20th Century Theatre

The Aspect Foundation

Always ahead of its time, The 20th Century Theatre was actually opened to the public in 1863. Perhaps that’s misleading. When the theatre first opened it wasn’t under the name we know it as now. 

It was, for three years, Victoria Hall, then it changed to the Bijou Theatre which is where the space’s history really kicks it up a notch. The Bijou premiered Oscar Wilde’s play Salome in 1905 and ran it for an impressive two whole shows before it was banned for depicting biblical characters. Salome wouldn’t be performed in Britain again until 1931.

During its heyday in the early part of the last century and the late part of the one before that, the Bijou theatre was quite the cultural hub in west London. People would pile in to see everything from pantomimes to grand productions of Aladdin. 

And somewhere while all that was happening the theatre changed its name to the Century Theatre, later adding the ‘20th’ for effect. Turns out the 20th century wasn’t too kind on this theatre though. The space has been empty since the 60s. 

Will it Work?  

The Aspect Foundation

The big question then is: will this actually happen? Planning permission will still need to be approved and then comes the costly process of actually restoring the place. 

There are some causes for hope. The planning application states that their aim is for a responsible use of the building and that renovating it could provide some serious benefits to the local community. We think the planners can’t argue with that. 

20th Century Theatre, Notting Hill: Practical Tips 

Address: 291 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2QA

When: Still TBA, should planning permission be approved

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