By Christopher Oatway
The Salford Victoria Theatre Trust is a group progressing with plans to restore the Grade II listed theatre in Lower Broughton, currently no.4 on the Theatres Trust’s At Risk register.
A viability study has just been completed that has examined whether there is a viable option for restoring the historic Victoria Theatre. The study summary can be seen by visiting: www.salfordvictoria.co.uk/viability-study
After a year of successes, the team at the Salford Victoria Theatre Trust had a truly magical Christmas when the draft of their Viability Study, funded through Theatres Trust’s Theatres At Risk Capacity Building Programme, stated that the former theatre is “of national significance” and concluded that it is “one of the most significant heritage assets in Salford.”
The consultants – made up of Colliers International, Foster Wilson Architects, IKS Consulting and Theatresearch, said: “It is one of few remaining buildings designed by the renowned theatre architect Bertie Crewe – and one of the few that he fully designed: one in Paris and another in London. It opened, with fanfare, in 1900, it has a beautiful and unusual interior, and retains Victorian Scruto stage equipment, elements of which are unique, the only surviving example of such a mechanism in the British Isles.
“The terracotta façade is fine and, once restored, would be a major adornment to the area. The building appears to be relatively unaltered since built, but it has unfortunately experienced neglect by its former owner and deterioration that needs urgent attention. The Victoria has some impressively unique differences from it counterparts in the city and across the UK and it would be great to see it restored as a flexible multi-use events venue plus community hub.”
Spectacularly, they mentioned that “It is unlikely that any other project could make such a positive contribution to regenerating and improving that part of Salford than restoration of the Victoria Theatre” and “does not require major change to become usable again.”
Chair of the SVTT, Sam Kelly expressed: “Whilst it would be phenomenal to have the whole building restored to its original glory of an operational theatre, we are hopeful in looking to achieve the first two steps in a four-phase plan for the restoration, which will see the building operate as a ‘vibrant community hub’ encompassing retail in the entrance, commercial office spaces in the saloon bar, as well as rehearsal and performance areas in the auditorium and stage sections. There is also discussion around a museum or exhibition space in the basement.”
“The building is outstanding and, with restoration, could form an attractive and vibrant hub for Lower Broughton. In order to do so, however, they need the community and local influential partners to get behind it. This needs to happen!”
Claire Appleby of The Theatres Trust supported that: “We are delighted that the viability study had determined a solution to securing the future of this beautiful theatre. The Victoria, which is currently vacant and in poor state of repair, is one of only thirty theatres throughout the UK that is included on our Theatres At Risk register. It is an outstanding Victorian theatre and has potential to become an attractive and vibrant hub for Lower Broughton. We will continue to support Sam and the SVTT team in their ambition to see the future of this significant building secured and call on local people, Salford City Council and local partners and businesses to support them in their vision for both building and community.”
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