Futurist Theatre

Foreshore Road,
Scarborough, YO11 1NT

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Futurist Scarborough

Viewing: Photo | Street View

A vast cinema on the seafront, catering to both residents and tourists. In January 2014 when it was closed, this was the largest single screen cinema in the U.K. still showing films, although live shows were also part of the programming.

It opened 27th June 1921 to the designs of Frank Tugwell and was exclusively a cinema until 1958 when a stage was added (and the Abbott & Smith 3Manual organ removed) and during the summer season a live show was presented.

Further more radical alterations took place in 1968 when the fine Italian style facade in white faiance tiles was covered with plain panels (most survives underneath) and the stage greatly extended over the adjoining site (which used to house the Palladium Cinema).

Now has a barn like interior with the balcony supported on 12 slender columns with 6 large boxes above and behind the balcony. The balcony front is lyre shaped and returned to the proscenium wall.

The ceiling is divided into 2 parts. The front section is original with an eliptical dome containing 3 ornamental ventilation grilles and having concealed lighting around the rim. Three ornamental corbels each side ‘support’ the ceiling.

The rear section is higher and plain dating from the time the auditorium was extended in 1968. The proscenium arch is not original, is rectangular and rather plain.

The Futurist Theatre presented summer seasons of live shows, with big name concerts during the rest of the year.

When there was no live entertainment then films were screened (most of the Sept-June period) although the theatre was never remotely full to capacity for a film!

The future of the Futurist Theatre was largely in doubt for several years, and the theatre was closed by Scarborough Borough Council on 5th January 2014 with “Hobbit II – The Desolation of Smaug”. There were determind efforts to obtain a listed status which were supported by townspeople, the Theatres Trust and the Cinema Theatre Association, but listing was denied. Stripping out of the building began in March 2012 and when completed demolition will begin. As the Futurist Theatre is built into the side of solid rock, it will take longer to demolish as the rock has to be secured to prevent collapse. We wouldn’t want Scarborough Borough Council offices built on top of the rock to collapse, now would we!

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 49 comments)

Ian on September 24, 2011 at 4:07 am

Unusually permission was granted this week (during the run of a stage play (The Calendar Girls) to take some pre-show photos of the the theatre with an audience – so for a view of what it is like in full use …




Ian on August 2, 2012 at 3:54 am

Some more photos – taken shortly before the Council meet to decide the fate of the Cinema in August 2012 – largely of areas never seen by the public.





Ian on March 4, 2013 at 3:02 am

A 1989 shot of the exterior here, when all the cladding tiles were the same colour and the other businesses in the block were up and running!


rasLXR on December 15, 2013 at 8:59 am



A seafront theatre is to close while attempts are made to find a new operator for the site, a North Yorkshire council has confirmed.

Scarborough’s Futurist is to be boarded up after the borough council rejected plans to more than double its subsidy to the site’s operator to £180,000.

Conservative council leader Tom Fox said the theatre’s viability had not been established.

The Save Our Futurist group said there was “absolute anger” at the decision.

Built in 1921, the Futurist has staged concerts, shows and films but is located within an area earmarked for redevelopment.

‘Beyond refurbishment’ It was bought by Scarborough Council in 1985 and has been leased to its current operators, Brenda and Barrie Stead, since 2002 with that lease set to expire at the end of 2013.

In June, a report found the theatre was “beyond the point” of refurbishment.

Tom Fox Tom Fox said he expected the council to be “thorough” in ensuring the theatre remained secure A council report recommended either increasing the subsidy paid to the Steads or boarding the theatre up for three months, at a cost of £5,000, “to provide time to flush out any potential operators”.

It added that if a suitable offer was not forthcoming council officers would be instructed to “formally close the Futurist Theatre”, at a further of cost of £20,000.

Mr Fox said he expected Scarborough Borough Council to “be thorough in managing the integrity and security of the building and remaining facilities” while it was mothballed.

The current operator’s lease will, however, be extended until 5 January to permit the continued screening of The Hobbit, Mr Fox added.

Patricia David, from the Save Our Futurist Group, said it was “totally unrealistic” to expect another potential operator to come forward.

“Three months is not enough time to get together a business plan, find funding and start to book acts for the coming year.

Ian on January 6, 2014 at 7:14 am

The Futurist was closed by Scarborough Borough Council – the decision of one man, not even the full council – on Sunday 5th January 2013 with a performance of The Hobbit II – The Desolation of Smaug.

They have been wanting to close the theatre for over a decade, looks like they may finally have got their wish.

70mmbobbyj on January 10, 2017 at 7:03 am

A post on a Facebook page and in the local press report that the local clowncil have voted to demolish this theater.

Jlupton on November 29, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Demolition plans confirmed. The secretary of state has refused to call in the decision, so £4 million is to be spent on the demolition, which will take around a year. A deeply unpopular decision, especially since the replacement attraction looks like it will be rather naff. What on earth is going on in Scarborough?

Ian on November 29, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Crap Council – really pleased we have got out of the town TBH.

Jlupton on March 12, 2018 at 10:46 am

Stripping out has now begun so it looks like the end. Demolition is set to take more than a year because the building is set into a cliff face with houses above. In fact, the whole operation is set to cost £4million, which would have gone a long way towards restoration instead, but it wasn’t to be.

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