The theatre is undergoing a £10m refurbishment as part of its 50th anniversary

BOLTON Octagon has announced Fielden Clegg Bradley as the architects of its upcoming major capital redevelopment project.

A Stirling Prize award-winning practice based in Manchester, Fielden Clegg Bradley’s previous projects include Manchester School for Arts and the redevelopment of London’s Southbank Centre. They will be joined by contractors Willmot Dixon, project managers Gardiner and Theobold and theatre consultants Charcoal Blue. 

The plans for the Octagon redevelopment, first announced in January 2015, focus on modernising and enlarging the breezeblock building to improve accessibility and accommodation for the theatre’s on and off-stage theatre projects: making it more environmentally sustainable, financially efficient and allowing for greater artistic and technological innovation. 

Opened in 1967 by HRH Princess Margaret, the theatre has battled everything from bomb scares to crippling financial deficits over the course of its five decades. Now widely considered a regional gem, it draws over 150,000 visitors annually with its ‘world class theatre: made in Bolton.’

Roddy Gauld, Chief Executive of the Octagon Theatre, said: “Selecting the right architects is crucial to the Octagon’s redevelopment. We have a very distinctive building, with an unusual geometry and essential artistic qualities. We’re also surrounded by some of Bolton’s most beautiful buildings. It’s important that we’re respectful to the existing architecture whilst creating an inspiring contemporary look that can be beacon in Bolton town centre’s continuing regeneration. 

"On meeting Feilden Clegg Bradley we were all deeply impressed. They seemed to naturally understand us as an organisation and our needs. The team has an impressive track record of theatre and cultural projects and I’m very proud to have this award winning practice work with us.

"The Octagon turns 50 in November this year. The best way to mark 50 years of success is to ensure it continues for the future, and I’m excited that we’ll be working with Feilden Clegg Bradley to reimagine the Octagon for the next 50 years.”  

The timescale for the projects will mean that the Octagon building will close from mid-2018 and re-open in late 2019. The theatre, however, will remain open and active as an organisation; taking the opportunity to ‘engage with new and existing audiences by operating in different spaces in and around Bolton.’ 

With anticipated project costs of approximately £10m, funding pledges have already been secured from Arts Council England via National Lottery good causes, and Bolton Council. A fundraising campaign led by the Octagon Theatre, a registered charity, is ongoing to secure the total amount. 

The redevelopment isn’t all the Octagon has to celebrate, after being shortlisted in the Manchester Theatre Awards for no less than five plays: To Kill a MockingbirdThe Winter’s Tale, Look Back in AngerSingin’ in the Rain and Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis

Manchester Theatre Award winners will be announced in a ceremony at HOME on Friday 17 March; limited £15 tickets are available at