BOLTON’S flagship theatre has unveiled a modern new look as it launches its latest season.

For more than two months, builders, decorators and staff have been hard at work transforming the Octagon Theatre.

The cafe has been given a modern makeover, complete with plush seating, new menu and the bar area has been revamped to create more space.

In the auditorium, the grid — from which lights, speakers and effects are rigged above the stage — has been replaced for the first time since the theatre opened in 1967.

Regular visitor to the cafe Joan Woods, from Egerton, gave the new-look Octagon the thumbs up as it officially reopened on Thursday ahead of the opening night of An Inspector Calls.

The 67-year-old, who was about to enjoy a lunch of feta cheese and orange salad, said: “I think it’s absolutely superb, it’s really modern.

“I always come here. I only hope the food is as good as it’s always been.”

The cafe, now called “eight”, has been kitted out with new furniture, with a red and cream theme, and also has a ramp for easier access.

Sean McEvoy, cafe manager, said: “Our aim is to offer a contemporary and sophisticated coffee shop.

“In terms of food, we’re concentrating on a very local menu using ingredients from within a 15-mile radius.

“It includes home-made cakes and buns, a full range of sandwiches and home-made soups of the day.

“And, for a Lancashire lunch every day, we’ve started off with a traditional corned beef hash.

“In the evening, the food has more of a bistro feel. We’ve got a stone pizza oven.

“It’s a small but regularly changing pre-theatre dining menu.”

Offers include three courses for £15 and two pizzas and a bottle of wine for £25.

Upstairs, the bar has been moved from the middle of the room and is home to a dedicated shop area selling programmes and refreshments.

It has been furnished with comfortable green and grey sofas, has new flooring and carpets and is stocked with an array of drinks, including from new supplier Dunscar Bridge Brewery.

James Whaite, who has worked as a bar assistant for 40 years, along with wife Anne, said: “It’ll be fantastic. The bar before, there was room behind but nobody used it.

“It’s definitely going to be a massive improvement for staff and, more importantly, the public.”

The work was carried out after the theatre launched a refurbishment appeal, following a £388,000 boost from Arts Council England.

The main areas have been revamped but money is still needed for other improvements, such as redecorating one of the staircases and toilets.

To donate go to, call 01204 520661, visit the Octagon box office or write to Octagon Theatre Trust Ltd, Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South, Bolton, BL1 1SB.