Eccles campaigners look to recruit more volunteers in fight to save historic theatre

A petition to save the Crown Theatre in Eccles has been started by local residents, after the historic building was left to become derelict.

The Grade II listed theatre has a rich history, dating back to 1899, having served as a music hall, cinema and a bingo hall for the enjoyment of the people of Eccles. 

The building has stood empty for many years, as its current and previous owners have struggled to find a use for the structure that satisfies both the local community and Salford City Council.

BEAUTIFUL AS A THEATRE: But the building has been allowed to become dilapidated

Recent plans to tear down the Victorian facade to be replaced by 95 modern flats have been turned down and now the campaigners are attempting to save their theatre, to prevent it becoming a white elephant.

Campaigner Ian Thurman told MM that the plans would not be the right choice for the area.

“There would be nothing left of the old building,” he said.

“Instead there’d be an anonymous, modern block of 95 flats. 

“Many people think they would be helping to solve housing needs in the area but in actual fact Salford is already over its quota.”

The campaign is hoping to attract skilled volunteers and potential investors, who can see the potential in the theatre as a new live entertainment venue and Eccles community hub.

And Mr Thurman believes that it could be exactly the type of investment that would stimulate young people in the Eccles community.

“Our shared vision for the theatre is of it becoming a community arts and cultural centre,” he said. 

“It would offer facilities for local groups, for performing arts groups and it could also be a meeting space.

AGENDA: Mr Thurman believes the theatre could spark regeneration in the area as a whole

“It would be somewhere where people in this community would be able to come and it would provide them with a number of different opportunities. 

“There would be a lot of educational opportunities. During the construction of the building we could allow local young people the chance to come and help, in connection with colleges in the area.

“It would help to regenerate the whole area, which is very important to the council’s local agenda.”

Sue Ness, the campaign’s secretary, told MM that it was vital that the history of the theatre is not forgotten.

And she highlighted the fact that some of the legends of theatre have performed at the venue in the past.

“When I joined the group, I realised what a great history there was to the theatre,” she said.

“So many great people have performed here, including Stan Laurel and George Formby.

“It was beautiful as a theatre but it was for the ordinary people of Eccles to come and enjoy the arts. 

“It is our intention to make it affordable for local people to come and enjoy live shows, bands and comedians in a proper theatre.

“There is nothing like performing in a proper theatre, the atmosphere is amazing. It would be so special for local groups to be able to perform here.”

It is understood that the current owners would be willing to sell the theatre to the campaigners, but the group would need to raise at least a million pounds for that dream to become a reality.

For more information on the petition, click here.

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