Updated: Saturday, 11th July 2020 @ 7:39am

‘Victorian gem’: Campaign to save Salford’s historic Victoria Theatre from being sold

‘Victorian gem’: Campaign to save Salford’s historic Victoria Theatre from being sold

By Phoebe Hurst

A campaign to save Salford’s Victoria Theatre from being sold is underway, with a meeting set to take place tonight.

The Grade II listed building on Great Clowes Street in Lower Broughton was built in 1899 and used as a cinema and theatre until the 1950s.

Many stage careers started there, including the likes of Albert Finney and Harry Houdini, before it was turned into a bingo hall.

It closed in 2008 and now stands in disrepair but many original features such as the balconies, two auditoriums and plasterwork are still intact.

David Dewsnip started the campaign to save the theatre after seeing that it was up for sale.

 “It wasn’t until I looked inside that I realised how beautiful the theatre was and that it should be restored to its former glory,” he explained.

Nearly 2000 people have joined the ‘Help Save Salford Victoria’ Facebook group in recent weeks with some campaigners posting ideas for alternative uses of the Victorian building, such as a community centre or performance space.

Mr Dewsnip hopes that saving Victoria Theatre will be a project that involves the whole Salford community.

He told MM that he would like to see a group of people dedicated to raising enough money for the purchase and repair of the building.

He said: “The only way it will work is if the community is involved. I’d like there to be a link with local colleges and for it to be a centre for community events.

“Restoring the building could even provide onsite training for young plasterers and tradesmen in Salford.”

Many people have highlighted the unique architectural design of the theatre, and the Facebook campaign group has been inundated with messages of support.

Former Manchester Grammar School student, Keith Dalby-Oldham described it as ‘a Victorian gem’ while others, such as Natalie Bennett, have shared their childhood memories of the Salford landmark.

“My granddad and auntie both lived on Mocha Parade just opposite.

“Looking at the pictures makes me sad that it is in such a state of disrepair but also hopeful that it can be restored to its former glory,” she said.

Campaigners are gathering tonight in the Robert Powell Theatre for a meeting organised by Mr Dewsnip to discuss possible fundraising ideas.

He said that tonight’s meeting would be a chance for people to meet with him and other campaigners.

“We will have an attendance sheet for people to sign up and say what skills they can contribute to the project. We’ll be discussing how we can take the things further,” he said.

Victoria Theatre is listed on the Theatre Trust’s register of 38 most at risk theatres in the country.

Estate agents WT Gunson who are dealing with the theatre, are said to be selling in the region of £275,000.

The meeting to share ideas about saving the Victoria Theatre is being held tonight at 7pm at the University of Salford Robert Powell Theatre, Frederick Road Campus.

For more information about the campaign visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/344240118989911/  or https://twitter.com/salfordvictoria.

You can also email David Dewsnip: [email protected]

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