The Old REP on Station Street and the New REP in Centenary Square. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre was founded in 1913 by Sir Barry Jackson. The REP was known to do modern versions of classic plays such as Shakespeare. He later went to the RSC in the 1940s in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Sir Barry Jackson founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre

The Old REP on Station Street and the New REP in Centenary Square. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre was founded in 1913 by Sir Barry Jackson. The REP was known to do modern versions of classic plays such as Shakespeare. He later went to the RSC in the 1940s in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Sir Barry Jackson

He was born in 1879 in Kings Norton, living until 1961. He founded the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1913. Before founding the REP, he formed a company with his friends called The Pilgrim Players in 1907. This was the foundation of the future Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company. In the early years of the 20th century, they performed plays to family and friends. By 1912, Barry Jackson began to develop plans to build a permanent theatre building on Station Street. Barry was knighted in 1925.

Below is a bronze bust of Sir Barry Jackson seen at the REP in Centenary Square during September 2013 (after the new Library of Birmingham had opened). At the time, the REP was celebrating their 100th anniversary.

Also seen in the modern REP building in 2013 was this portrait of Sir Barry Jackson made up of many other smaller photos. A bit like a mosaic.

Seen in the Shakesepare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham was this Gavel. It was presented to Sir Barry Jackson in 1936. As a pioneer of modern Shakespeare at The REP during the 1920s. By the 1940s he later became Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Library of Birmingham opened in 2013 next door the the new REP which originally opened in 1971 (10 years after Sir Barry Jackson passed away).

Before we get onto the old and new REP's in Birmingham, first a look at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The building opened in 1932, on the site adjacent to the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (opened in 1879), which had been destroyed by a fire in 1926. It took the name of Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1961, following the founding of the Royal Shakespeare Company the year before (1960).

Sir Barry Jackson was Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre from 1945 until 1948 (when he retired).

This view below was from 2009 during the redevelopment of the theatre.

This view from 2013 after the redevelopment had finished. The theatre reopened in 2010, and was officially opened by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 2011. Seen here with the River Avon.

This River Avon view of the RST was from 2014.

Back to Birmingham and first we go to Station Street with what is now known as The Old REP.

It was the first ever purpose built repertory theatre in the UK, it opened in February 1913. The main entrance is on Station Street, opposite Birmingham New Street Station. There is a blue plaque here for Sir Barry Jackson. The architect was S. N. Cooke.

In this view with the hotel Comfort Inn and The Electric Cinema. There is various Chinese restaurants down there on Station Street as well. The view is from was what used to be Queen's Drive at New Street Station. Station Bar also known as Platform 13 is to the left (I think the bar is getting a refit when I last walked past it).

The front view of The Old Rep Theatre on Station Street. When The REP moved to a new building in 1971 near Broad Street (now in Centenary Square), Birmingham City Council took over the building. During renovations of their Centenary Square building, The New REP temporarily moved back into the Old REP from 2011 until 2013. From 2014, Birmingham Ormiston Academy, (also known as BOA), too over the use of the old theatre building.

The view round the back of The Old REP on Hinckley Street. This is the Stage Door entrance. There is a taxi rank on this side.

A close up look at the rear entrances of the Old REP on Hinckley Street.

Now a look at The New REP first built in 1971. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company moved to the site near Broad Street in a building by Graham Winteringham and Keith Williams Architects. This was around 10 years after Sir Barry Jackson had died. The area would not become Centenary Square for another 20 years (1991). This view from 2010, before the Library of Birmingham has been built and before the theatre renovations had started. Sir Barry Jackson had supported the building of a modern theatre but he died before it became a reality.

This view from 2009. There used to be steps outside, but that was removed during the 2011 to 2013 renovation works of the theatre. There is another Birmingham Civic Society blue plaque on this building to Sir Barry Jackson. For some years it was missing but it was returned here in 2013 when the theatre renovations were complete. The other blue plaque is for J. Sampson Gamgee, surgeon and founder of the Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund, who lived in a house on this site. J. R. R. Tolkien later used his name for the character of Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

Nightshot view from 2017. By then the theatre had been open again from 2013 after the new Library of Birmingham had opened. Marmalade Bistro had opened by then. This was slightly before the square had been hoarded off for the redevelopment of Centenary Square (there is still hoardings in front of the theatre).

Close up view in late 2017. Due to the renovations works of the square, this is currently the pedestrian walking route past the theatre, so the bar can't have it's tables and chairs outside at the moment.

Rear views of The REP on Cambridge Street near the roundabout close to City Centre Gardens. This view from 2010 from before the theatre was closed for a few years during the renovations while the Library of Birmingham was also being built next door.

The rear of the theatre seen in 2013. The Library of Birmingham is now complete and would open in September 2013. A complete different look to it's brutal predessor of 1971 to about 2011. There is regularly flower displays on that island on Cambridge Street.


Photos by Elliott Brown