Trips & Adventures – 20 June 2019
Is it in Greater Manchester? Do I need waterproof clothing? Where are we going for lunch? Are we going on the tram? Many questions were asked to find out the whereabouts of our mystery trip, but no clues were revealed until the day itself.
We set off from Church House and walked through St Ann’s Square to the Royal Exchange Theatre.
There we had a guided tour through the building – the largest theatre in the round in the country – including the Great Hall, production departments, backstage areas, dressing rooms and The Studio.
We learnt all about the fascinating history of the Royal Exchange building and the Theatre Company while offering real insight into the production process.
The Royal Exchange is a grade II listed building in Manchester city centre, which was heavily damaged in the Manchester Blitz and in the 1996 Manchester bombing. The current building is the last of several buildings on the site used for commodities exchange, primarily but not exclusively of cotton and textiles.
In the 18th century the trade was part of the slave trade in which African slaves were transported to America where the cotton was grown and then exported to Liverpool where the raw cotton was sold. The raw cotton was processed in Manchester and the surrounding cotton towns. Manchester Royal Exchange traded in spun yarn and finished goods throughout the world including Africa until trading ceased in 1968, and the building was threatened with demolition.
The building remained empty until 1973 when it was used to house a theatre company. The Royal Exchange Theatre was founded in 1976.
In 1999, the Royal Exchange was awarded ‘Theatre of the Year’ in the Barclays Theatre Awards, in recognition of its refurbishment and ambitious re-opening season.
After an interesting tour we retired to the local Wetherspoons for food and refreshments.