YORK'S historic Grand Opera House will be raising the curtain on a major refurbishment that will bring the theatrical venue into the 21st century, complete with improved disabled access and facilities, a new bar and a digital 'at-seat' drinks ordering system.

The theatre, in Clifford Street, first opened 120 years ago and was last refurbished in 1987 when £4 million was spent.

The venue has been closed since August 7 and will reopen at the end of the month when the Story of Soul takes to the stage.

Audience members will be greeted by a revamped box office, foyer bar, toilets and new seats in the dress circle as well as fresh carpets and decor throughout.

Disabled facilities will be improved too, including access to the building and wash rooms.

Celestine Dubruel, communications officer, at the Grand Opera House, told The Press: "We've always provided great shows, and our staff are very professional and caring, but our facilities needed attention to complete that.

York Press: The Grand Opera House foyer bar under refurbishmentThe Grand Opera House foyer bar under refurbishment

"The building has been open a long time - 120 years - and it was in need of some love."

As our photos show, much of the interior has been stripped out as renovations take place.

Allie Long, theatre manager, says: "There will be lots of lovely surprises for audiences when we re-open."

There will be new signage both inside and outside the building as well as improved dressing rooms and showers for performers.

Customers will be able to order drinks straight to their seats via a QR code - which will save them queuing up at the bar during the interval, said Celestine. Pre-ordering interval drinks will continue, she said.

Over the years, the theatre has welcomed many stars of the stage and screen, including Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh played Romeo and Juliet at the venue in 1941. More recently, Take That star Gary Barlow brought his one-man-show A Different Stage to the theatre for four performances.

Some historical gems have been uncovered during the refurbishment, said Celestine, including a marble wall in the box office and lots of old newspapers from 1902 - the year the theatre opened under the name The Grand Theatre and Opera House.

York Press: Grand Opera House dress circle - new seats being installedGrand Opera House dress circle - new seats being installed

The following year it was converted to the Opera House and Empire Theatre.

During the First World War, in 1915, a series of educational lectures were given, but after the Second World War, the theatre was sold because of huge rates increases.

From 1958 to 1985 it was known as the SS Empire, its stage was removed, the stalls floor levelled for roller skating, wrestling and bingo.

In 1989 - after its £4 million refit - it reopened once more as the theatre we know today: The Grand Opera House.