Tyne & Wear

Edwardian gem found on North Tyneside

Ornate Edwardian gas burner
Image caption The sunburner is now with artisan craftsmen in London

An Edwardian gem unearthed on North Tyneside is to form part of the restoration of a Newcastle theatre.

The Theatre Royal's restoration team has been looking for historic pieces as part of its £4.75m transformation.

The ornate Edwardian gas burner was discovered at Wallsend's demolished Borough Theatre in May 2010 but until now, the team was unaware of its potential.

Although, on investigation, the gas burner turned out to be a sunburner (an attractive gas-lit ventilation device used inside theatres in the early 20th Century).

It was too wide to fit the decorative plaster hole in the ceiling of the auditorium but has provided a template for the conservation team to replicate.

The sunburner is now with artisan craftsmen in London where small scale mouldings are being made.

'Leaving legacy'

When ready, the replica will be installed within the original casing in the centre of the theatre's auditorium ceiling.

Theatre Royal chief executive Philip Bernays, said: "We never expected for something to turn up on our doorstep, but when we heard about the demolition of the Borough Theatre in Wallsend, we had an inkling something of value might be found.

"It's become one of the most vital clues in our 'archaeological reconstruction' of the original Theatre Royal. We are very pleased that the Borough Theatre burner will be leaving its legacy in our beautiful theatre."

The theatre is being restored back to Frank Matcham's classic 1901 Edwardian design.

Theatre staff said they do not know what happened to their original sunburner, however, like a lot of the original Edwardian features it is likely it was removed in one of the many 20th Century refurbishments.

The £4.75m restoration has now reached the half-way point and is so far running on schedule for the reopening on 12 September 2011.

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