Comedian’s widow joins fight to save theatre

Joan Morecambe, the wife of the late Eric Morecambe with his wax figure at Madame Tussauds Blackpool.
Joan Morecambe, the wife of the late Eric Morecambe with his wax figure at Madame Tussauds Blackpool.
18
Have your say

The widow of one of the country’s best-loved entertainers has added her voice to calls for an historic Blackpool building to be saved from demolition.

Joan Morecambe, the widow of comedian Eric Morecambe, has urged the council to have “a change of heart” over proposals to pull down the former ABC Theatre on Church Street and replace it with a car park.

Eric Morecambe & Ernie Wise. 02/06/1965 Eric and Ernie get asurprise when they peep through a screen During a photocall for the "Morecambe and Wise Show " at the ABC Theatre Blackpool. Also surprised is 20 year old Valerie Barrett of Blackpool seaside stars

Eric Morecambe & Ernie Wise. 02/06/1965 Eric and Ernie get asurprise when they peep through a screen During a photocall for the "Morecambe and Wise Show " at the ABC Theatre Blackpool. Also surprised is 20 year old Valerie Barrett of Blackpool seaside stars

Last week Blackpool Council submitted a planning application seeking permission to bulldoze the building, which more recently was home to The Syndicate nightclub.

Mrs Morecambe made her comments in response to a request from campaigners who had hoped to save the theatre.

In a letter to campaigner Alan Whitehead, she says: “I have such happy memories of ‘Morecambe and Wise’ appearing at the ABC Theatre.

“I do hope that there will be a change of heart and this part of Blackpool history will be kept alive.”

When the council announced its plans for the building after buying it last December, around 1,500 people joined a Facebook campaign to save it and instead see it developed as a performance centre.

But with no firm business plans or investment on the table, the council has decided to go ahead with demolition proposals. In her letter, Mrs Morecambe adds she was “very sorry to see that the council propose pulling down the ABC and building a car park, particularly as there does not appear to be a great shortage of parking facilities.”

She continues: “I appreciate that theatres along with other commercial businesses need to pay their way but if Blackpool is looking to regenerate itself it seems a backward step to dispense with one of its attractions.”

The council wants to demolish the former theatre and replace it with a 65-space car park for up to five years.

But long term proposals include the possibility of attracting a hotel to the site which would boost the Winter Gardens’ chances of attracting more conferences.

The council bought the building for £635,000 but the total cost of the scheme is estimated at £1.3m, including the cost of demolition.

A spokesman for Blackpool Council said the authority did not wish to comment 
further.