Image courtesy of Chris Doak
Opened in 1879, the exterior of the building was by James Thomson, and housed offices, shops and a hotel. Inside, there was a 2,000 seat theatre designed by Frank Matcham, who would later design the Empire across the road. In 1884, ownership passed to the ubiquitous Howard and Wyndham, then by the First World War, it was sold again to the Scottish Playgoers Company, who renamed it the Lyric, and used it for rep. The whole building passed to the YMCA in 1914, with the hotel used to house soldiers, and the theatre became a cinema for them, returning to amateur dramatics after the war. Full-time theatre use did not return until 1936, and despite a pause for WWII, it continued in use as a theatre and lecture hall until 1953, when a fire on stage demonstrated the importance of putting the safety curtain down - it wasn't, and the auditorium was gutted. Surprisingly, the theatre was rebuilt, but the costs were huge, and the building was sold in 1959, eventually being demolished for St. Andrew's House.