The latest stage of the Grand Theatre’s £1m refurbishment project is now under way.
Plans were approved earlier this year to revamp the 120-year-old venue’s ground floor and box office, dressing rooms, offices and rehearsal space, after a £700,000 grant was secured from the Arts Council.
Works began on the first phase in mid-March, with a new rehearsal suite being created in a building next to the theatre and connected through its dress circle level, and the dressing rooms refurbished.
And offices which have lain empty and semi-derelict for around 30 years will be opened up to create a modern open plan office space, linked to the Grade II*-listed theatre at upper circle level.
Now the 12-week ‘Street to Seat’ project has started to restore the theatre’s entrance to its original splendour.
The scheme aims to “improve all aspects of the audience’s experience as they enter from Church Street until they take their seat in the stalls”.
“The Grand Theatre is a jewel in the crown of Blackpool’s prestigious heritage and we’re determined to preserve its historic importance.Lawrence McBurney
The box office is being totally transformed, with new counters and serving windows, a platform lift will be installed to allow wheelchair access to the stalls, the toilets are being refitted, and the wrought iron canopy and main entrance doors are to be stripped back, repaired and repainted.
The work has been funded by the SITA Trust, The Theatres Trust, and the Friends of The Grand, with design by Cassidy + Ashton.
SITA has given its maximum £60,000 grant for the project, and Jools Granville from the trust said: “Undoubtedly the remodelling of the foyer will enhance the visitor experience and the installation of a lift will enable disabled visitors to access the stalls without having to go outside, down the street and in the back entrance which is less than ideal.”
Kate Carmichael, from The Theatres Trust, said: “We’re pleased that we could provide a £4,850 grant from the Theatres Protection Fund Small Grant Scheme and help with restoration of the theatre’s Church Street entrance doors.
“All of The Grand’s audiences will be able to experience the beauty of a true, and fully accessible, Frank Matcham entrance for years to come.”
Chairman of the Blackpool Grand Theatre Trust, owners of the building, Roger Lloyd Jones said: “We are excited to launch this phase of our development work as we start to refurbish our foyer and box office.
“We are extremely grateful to SITA Trust for their generous financial support, and to the Friends of The Grand and the Theatres Trust.
“Our architects, Cassidy + Ashton, have managed to sensitively incorporate 21st Century technology and facilities in their design while remaining true to the spirit of this beautiful Victorian building.”
Lawrence McBurney, associate architect at Cassidy + Ashton, said: “The Grand Theatre is a jewel in the crown of Blackpool’s prestigious heritage and we’re determined to preserve its historic importance.”
The Theatre will be open as normal throughout the work.