A CAMPAIGN group have appealed for fresh support to save an Eccles Theatre, a year after developers pulled planning application to demolish the building in December 2015.
Grade II listed The Crown Theatre on Liverpool Road has had a star studded past, with stars such as George Formby and Frank Randletaking on the stage.
Local resident, Jon Grieves set up a campaign group to help save and restore the theatre in February this year.
He said: “I heard something was happening regarding the building. As a resident of Mather Road on which the west side of the building stands, I was interested to find out more.
“We’ve been campaigning for almost a year now, we just need an extra surge in support to help us raise funding and awareness.
“When The Crown Theatre was opened it was the First Theatre in Eccles, and built for the working classes, so I felt it was important that we did something to preserve Eccles’ history.”
The group began to grow in summer last year and also had a small face lift with the instalation of a mural on the front façade of the building, by artist Bree Hughes.
The 2,500 capacity theatre opened in February 1899, and was originally named the Eccles Lyceum.
It was converted into a Bingo hall in 1963, which was a familiar fate for buildings of this size in the 60s.
John explained his future plans for the Crown Theatre: “We want to turn it into an arts hub, somewhere Eccles can get creative, the main things we want to focus on are theatre, performance, dance, music art and photography.
“As an homage to its history the new community arts hub would be named the Eccles Lyceum, which we feel would be a fitting tribute.”
The group want to recreate the social atmosphere of the former Bingo Hall by integrating a café and meet up area into the building and create rooms for community groups to use.
Since closing in the 1980s, the building deteriorated slowly due to neglect and a lack of funds to keep up maintenance.
An arson attack in 2013, meant that the theatre was no longer structurally safe as the inside of the building was ruined, many original features of the building were also lost in the fire, but the cost to rebuild was proved too much for the owners.
Jon said: “Fundraising is the main aim of our public meetings, we’re trying to figure out where how we can raise funds.
“The campaign currently has the backing of Salford and Eccles MP Rebecca Long-Bailey, which has been a great boost for the group.
“Overall, support has been generally positive. Any negative comments are because of the general disrepair of the building. The ‘eyesore’ it has become, “has been allowed to become”.
The building was listed in 2003 with English Heritage noting that “the Crown Theatre is a rare surviving example of a suburban working-class theatre that still retains the original form of its auditorium and front of house”.
There have been many proposed attempts to turn the building into housing, the most notable being as part of the Salford City Council’s Liverpool Road Corridor 10 Year Strategy (2007-17).
Jon expressed: “The longer the building is left to deteriorate the harder it will be for it to be saved and preserved, we need as much help as we can get to save the Crown Theatre.”
Public meetings are held at the Nur Malaysia Community Café, just a short walk from the theatre, and are advertised on the campaign groups Facebook page.