The Kooks are latest band forced to cancel Blackpool show
Another gig at Blackpool's legendary Empress Ballroom has been pulled '“ but Winter Gardens chiefs say the venue will reopen next Friday.
The Kooks are the latest act to cancel a show at the historic venue, after a section of the ceiling fell in last month.Assessments have been taking place and repairs are underway, but Winter Gardens’ bosses have been unable to get the go-ahead for music events although they say the venue will reopen for other events from next Friday, November 4.At that time, eight scaffolding towers will be in place to allow restoration work to take place.The first show cancelled at the Empress was Alt-J’s gig, when a panel of the ornate plasterwork ceiling was found to have fallen from the roof early on Monday, September 4 during routine checks of the entertainment complex. Placebo shifted their show earlier this month to Manchester’s Albert Hall. Libertines postponed their September gig, rescheduling for Thursday, December 14. It remains unclear as yet whether this date – the final gig in the Empress’ diary – will go ahead. No shows are currently scheduled for 2018.Initial estimates said the ballroom would re-open at the start of October, but the schedule for restoration and a full reopening has not been confirmed.Blackpool Council, the owners of the Winter Gardens, has now brought forward plans to carry out a major survey of ‘historic plaster ceilings in entertainment venues within its ownership’.The survey was already scheduled for 2018, but Winter Gardens managing director Michael Williams said ‘proposed changes to the official guidance on plaster ceilings’ following an incident at London’s Apollo had brought forward a ‘programme of further investigation, repair and restoration by approximately one year’.Mr Williams said: “This will give us greater certainty as to the condition of these ceilings and allow us to plan and budget for repairs and restoration at an earlier stage.“However, in order to undertake the refurbishment of the Empress Ballroom ceiling, we will need to install a working platform at high level and this will be supported by a series of towers that will span the length of the ballroom. “Clearly, this will impact on events that we host in the venue.”Where sell-out gigs can accommodate around 3,000 revellers, attendance at the events which are going ahead is significantly reduced from the Empress’s maximum capacity. Headlining bands also bring in heavy stage, sound and lighting rigs.Mr Williams added: “We would like to apologise for any potential inconveniences as a result of the works to the Empress Ballroom. This issue has been forced upon us a result of extreme circumstances and we appreciate the understanding that everyone has shown thus far.“We have tried to minimise its impact as the other alternative was to close the venue which clearly would be a last resort as we would have had to cancel events which would be disappointing for event organisers and attendees.“We have developed an excellent programme of events at the Winter Gardens and genuinely do appreciate the fact that promoters continue to hold their events in Blackpool and for the subsequent benefits that this brings not only to the Winter Gardens but also the resort.”The repairs and surveys in the rest of the complex will not affect work on the new conference centre, and restoration works in the Spanish Hall will continue as previously planned.Despite the cancelled gigs, a Winter Gardens spokesman said the venue had not suffered due to lost revenue during the closure which happened during a relatively quiet spell in the ballroom’s schedule.The prestigious Blackpool National Dance Championships, from Thursday to Saturday, November 16 to 18 will go ahead in the ballroom, as will The Big Benidorm Reunion on Saturday, December 2 and the annual New Year’s Eve Family Party.