Video: Campaign ramps up to Save Salford Victoria Theatre
by Tony Flynn
Video by Tom Rodgers
On Friday, SalfordOnline.com were kindly allowed permission to go into the Victoria Theatre, Great Clowes Street, Broughton, which has been empty for several years since closing down as a bingo hall.
The theatre was opened in 1900 to a design by Bertie Crewe and is a magnificent building whose magnificent history is not well known across the city.
A campaign to save the theatre has been set up by David Dewsnip who works at the nearby Salford University - see his interview with SalfordOnline.com here when we broke news of the restoration campaign.
A Facebook group set up by David has already attracted over 1,800 people.
We were met at the theatre by several people including Allen Christey, who trod the boards here on many, many occasions, as well as Mickey Dacks, who was responsible for writing the Salford musical "Innit" which got rave reviews at its premiere at the Lowry Theatre in 2009.
Jo Hill from the Architectural Heritage Society was also happy to talk to us alongside several people who had performed here over the years.
Phil Parker from Crescent Roofing who is responsible for the maintenance of the building kindly gave up an hour of his time to let us have a look around the theatre.
To be honest I wasn't quite sure what to expect as Phil opened the roller shutter doors and ushered us into the foyer.
Upon entering the main auditorium I was in all honesty fully amazed at what I saw.
I could not take my eyes of the, what I would call the Royal Boxes on either side of the stage, which were dwarfed by beautiful plaster relief statues, and in magnificent condition.
The stage area was huge and the view looking up into the gods was really impressive.
Many of the seats are still there, obviously in a tatty condition, but the ornate platerwork is still in great condition I'm glad to say.
We had a conducted tour by Allen who showed us the backstage area, the dressing rooms, the bar, the upper galleries, the circle and dozens of small rooms: the place is deceptively huge and as I said earlier is still in a reasonably good condition.
On the downside the vandals have been in and stolen electrical cables, fireplaces, slates from the roof which has caused water damage, radiators and basically anything which could be sold for scrap.
The plasterwork is crumbling and it is going to be a massive job to plaster and paint this lovely old building. I imagined only a lottery win would be able to solve this.
But the passion and fantastic creative ideas of the community came forth, including Mickey's idea of getting schools, colleges and alternative education centres involved to perhaps bring young Salford workers in to teach them a trade and the transferable skills they need to get jobs.
The main thing is that this theatre should be restored and preserved for the people of Salford, it could so easily become a community theatre or arts centre and the Broughton area is crying out for somewhere for the local people to go.
I can easily imagine it becoming a youth theatre or a community hub for creative minded people, the people of Salford deserve this and we have this wonderful building on our doorstep, so let's use it and not lose it.
Join the campaign on Facebook
Follow Salford Victoria on Twitter
Finally, head along to the inaugural meeting on Wednesday 1st August starting at 7pm at The Robert Powell Theatre, University of Salford, Frederick Road Campus, Frederick Road, Salford, M6 6PU.
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