Secret rooms which have stayed hidden for nearly a century have been unearthed during restoration work at one of Scotland’s oldest theatres.
Construction crews working on the £16.5 million transformation of Perth Theatre have discovered “spooky” forgotten areas which were walled over during the 1920s.
They have also opened up the Gods seating circle, which has been out of action for more than 50 years.
The long-awaited work involves restoring the B-listed Edwardian auditorium to its former glory as well as a building a new 200-seat studio theatre.
An out-dated extension at the rear of the building has been torn down.
Gwilym Gibbons, chief executive of Horsecross Arts said that the project has reached another milestone and remains on target to be completed next year.
“The old 1980s building is now gone,” he said. “This clears the way for the new foyer space, bar and studio theatre.”
Mr Gibbons said: “The Gods are being reinstated and this is the first time we have seen them since they were closed off in the 1960s.
“They have been mostly used for storage, lighting and technical work.
“We’ve also uncovered some old cupboards and small rooms which were behind the walls and probably haven’t been opened up since the 1920s or 30s.
“There was one room which had a single chair in the middle of it, which looked particularly spooky.”
Mr Gibbons said: “I’m absolutely delighted by the care and attention that is being taken throughout this project. For example, some of the original stone work is being carefully removed and stored so that it can be used again.”
Horsecross Arts has been pledged £15.1m with funding from project partners Perth & Kinross Council, Creative Scotland, The Gannochy Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as other trusts and foundations, individual supporters and funding bodies.
Fundraising is continuing for the final £1.5 million.
At a recent meeting of the Perth Civic Trust, Horsecross chairman Magnus Linklater addressed concerns that the Edwardian theatre had closed for two years before work had even begun, he stressed that health and safety issues meant they had no option but to call a halt to performances while fundraising proceeded.
“Hopefully it will breathe new life into Perth’s cultural world. It should transform not just the building but the whole Mill Street area,” said Mr Linklater, who stressed the familiar High Street facade will be retained.
“The old theatre had run its course and we had reached a tipping point. It had become unsafe. It was a wonderful auditorium but a younger audience quite rightly expects more from modern theatre facilities.
“So rather than just refurbish a much loved theatre, we decided to preserve it and also add a whole new building, providing a creative space for community events, dance, music and experimental theatre, with an emphasis on youth involvement.
“We see the project as an essential part of the development of the city.”