Officials of Lytham’s Lowther Pavilion and Gardens are turning to the community to help kick-start a major revamp for the venue to mark its forthcoming centenary.
The Lowther Trust wants the Fylde public’s help as it prepares to go ‘back to the future’ with an ultra-modern new look intended to incorporate original features long since lost in time.
The total cost of the project, intended to be carried out in three phases ahead of the big anniversary in 2021, is estimated at £5.25m, with the initial stage £1.5m, but Trust officials hope the phasing will allow the work to go ahead as funds are raised.
After the Trust’s ambitions for the venue were first revealed in The Gazette in May, a design brief has now been prepared by Lytham architects Creative SPARC – and the Trust is today launching two major fund-raising efforts towards the initial stage of the project.
A striking glass atrium, opening up the foyer, café and bar to create one large public area to serve as ticket office, tourist information centre and café/bar is the key feature of the first phase, which it is hoped can get under way next summer in tandem with a £123,000 project to repair the roof which already has funding confirmed.
In the second phase, hoped to be carried out two years after the first, a second floor is planned for the backstage areas to provide showers for the performers, a large chorus dressing room which an be used for workshops and office space.
The final addition, another two years on if all goes according to schedule, is intended to see the creation of a new 150-seat studio theatre space at the back of the existing building.
Glass will be a key part of the whole project as the Trust looks to bring the Pavilion and the Lowther Gardens in which it is set together in harmony - and the major funding-raising drive is offering the opportunity for community groups and individuals to have their names etched on the new structure for posterity.
Under a funding initiative entitled Band of Names, the Trust is looking initially for 500 individuals or groups to raise £1,000 each towards the refurbishment.
Trust chairman Tim Lince said: “The names of the 500 will be engraved on the glass and walls of the building creating a solid band around the entire exterior.
“The donors could be individuals, social groups, schools, church groups, companies, arts societies – anybody with an interest in helping create an iconic theatre, information bureau, centre for the arts and community facility in the heart of the Fylde region for the next 100 years.
“Each would do its own fundraising in which ever unique way they chose but with the common aim of raising £1,000 towards the total and having a permanent acknowledgement of their donation on the walls of the building.
“This could also be a legacy gift in memory of a loved one.”
Also available is the opportunity to sponsor a seat at the theatre, which with 450 seats available at £200 a time, officials hope will raise £90,000 towards the project.
The plans pay homage to the venue’s original benefactor, the fifth Earl of Lonsdale, who was related by married to the Clifton’s of Lytham Hall and was known as ‘Yellow Earl’ because of his passion for the colour.
As well as a number of yellow features in tribute to the earl, the proliferation of glass around the proposed new structure is inspired by the original design for the building when it was opened in 1921.
It was later given a piecemeal new look in the 1980s, with many of the original features lost or obscured in the process.
Mr Lince added: “Lowther is, and always will be, a community asset so we want the local community to play a major role in securing the funds for the development.
“The cost of the initial phase is estimated at £1.5m and we want to raise the bulk of that through public subscription.
A meeting for interested parties is to be held at the Pavilion July 20, starting at 8pm.
Details of the fund-raising campaigns are available from Mr McCann by email email@example.com, in writing at Lowther Pavilion, West Beach, Lytham St Annes FY8 5QQ, or by phone on (01253) 794221.