Morecambe’s Winter Gardens listed as one of most ‘at risk’ theatres in UK

Morecambe Winter Gardens.
Morecambe Winter Gardens.

Morecambe’s Winter Gardens has once again been listed as one of the most ‘at risk’ theatres in the UK.

In the newly released Theatres at Risk 2019 register, the Grade 2 listed building has been given a rating of eight out of nine, alongside theatres in Salford, Dudley and Margate.

This is based on the immediacy and type of risk the theatre faces, the quality and significance of the building, whether this is theatrical or architectural, and its importance to its community.

Only the Brighton Hippodrome has a higher rating of nine.

Now in its 12th year, the Theatres at Risk Register highlights and supports theatres under threat of closure, redevelopment or demolition across the UK, calling the public’s attention to these buildings, their challenges, opportunities and those who fight for them.

This year, 31 theatres appear on the register, with three new additions.

The building is operated by Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust Limited (MWGT), which along with the Friends of the Winter Gardens, is slowly restoring the theatre and bringing it back into use. Significant funding is required to allow the Winter Gardens to be fully restored and reopened, and to allow it to operate to its full potential.

Theatres Trust has been providing support to the MWGT regarding operational set up after a difficult year which has seen the passing of the group’s founder member, Evelyn Archer.

A spokesman for Theatres Trust, the national advisory body for theatres, said: “We are calling for more collaborative creative partnerships between local authorities, theatre owners and operators and community groups to protect the theatres on the list.

“There should also be more sustainable funding to prevent further theatres becoming ‘at risk’ in the future.”

Every theatre on the register has strong architectural merit or cultural heritage and, crucially, the potential to be returned to its original performance use and be a real asset to its community.

Theatres can be at risk for a variety of reasons, including loss of funding, lack of maintenance, or threat from a neighbouring development.

As well as disused buildings, the list includes working theatres with capital, funding or operational issues and venues currently open for special events but where significant restoration work or fundraising still needs to be done.