Her Majesty’s Theatre Ballarat Revitalisation

City of Ballarat

Nicholson Construction completed heritage restoration conservation and preservation works of Her Majesty’s Theatre in Ballarat, which is the oldest continually operational theatre in Australia and only one of the four surviving nineteenth-century public theatres.

The large-scale works included the following;

  • Demolition of the existing stage and the structural rectification of the existing timber stage to meet the required load standards. Nicholson Construction incorporated the installation of structural steel elements underneath the stage, dressing rooms and reinstated the sloping stage floor by utilising existing heritage timber components wherever possible.
  • The installation of new structural steel trusses in the roof above the stage in order to support the existing roof and the failing timber trusses, which are heritage listed.
  • All steel used was fabricated offsite in sections that were small enough to be craned in through the fourth storey window of the theatre and were bolted together in situ.
  • Nicholson Construction conducted the replacement of all roof gutters on the external building with new copper gutters to match the heritage requirements.
  • In order to maintain the stunning heritage facade of the Her Majesty’s Theatre the external brickwork was also repainted where the bricks had weathered.
  • Timber window frames on the theatre were repaired and reinstated.
  • Nicholson Construction demolished the existing basement level dressing rooms and constructed new dressing room facilities for the Theatre.
  • Works within the large auditorium included removal of existing and failing render and the re-instatement of lime-based render as no cement-based product was used. The client specifically requested no modern building methods, and as such cement-based render was not used.
  • Damp remediation works, were used on the bluestone in and around the Theatre by using the salt poultice procedure to pull the moisture out of the rock.
  • Nicholson Construction completed new detailed and feature plaster works within the Theatre, incorporating the reinstatement of lime-based render and hard finish to ensure a tough smooth abrasive-resistant finish.
  • The re-instatement and continuation of decorative hard plaster details throughout the Theatre to areas where they may have been damaged, mistakenly removed or not finished. This included ornamental plaster dentils, modillions, circular bosses, floral corbels and other associated mouldings.
  • The rectification of the floral corbels required moulds to be taken of all corbels, due to the small specific damage on each individual corbel and matched up to ensure one complete mould to base the replace floral corbel on.
  • Re-instatement of cast iron ventilation grills throughout the ground floor of the Theatre. Some required full replacements so complete replicas were made to ensure the grills matched throughout the ground floor.
  • Nicholson Construction also orchestrated the removal of all lead-based paint for safety reasons with the peel away paint removal system.
  • The existing paint inside the Her Majesty’s Theatre required removal and re-painting to all internal elevations in correct heritage colours as per the conservators detailed report of the original colour schemes utilising specified painting system
  • The carpet was repaired and, in some instances completely replaced to match.
  • Restoration works were completed to the heritage terracotta urinals in the bathrooms. This included a reinstatement of exposed copper and brass flushers and ceramic cisterns.
  • Further in the bathrooms the re-instatement of handmade terracotta drains and tiles was undertaken.
  • Salt removal works and rendering to existing basement level toilets was carried out to ensure no salt damage allowed moisture to soak into the masonry.
  • Nicholson Construction also removed and refurbishment and tanking of street level light wells in the bathrooms to ensure protection against water penetration. This also included the replacement of all glass pavement tiles within the bathrooms.

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