Historic Great Yarmouth theatre placed on ‘at risk’ list

The final curtain could be set to fall on a Great Yarmouth theatre after the building was declared 'at risk' last week.

The Regent was placed on the Theatres At Risk list 2012 along with 48 other theatres across the country.

The Edwardian gem, nestled in the heart of Great Yarmouth, has been empty since Mecca bingo pulled out in December last year and now the building is at risk of being lost, according to the Theatres Trust.

The building served as a theatre and cinema from 1914 to 1982 and welcomed acts including Ken Dodd and Roy Hudd onto the stage.

A scheme to turn the theatre into a multiplex in 1982 did not come to fruition and a new owner was sought. A campaign by the EDP's sister paper, the Great Yarmouth Mercury, resulted in the building being grade II listed, meaning it could not be altered in any way without planning consent.

Mecca Bingo stepped in and transformed it into a bingo hall, which closed in December.

The building is currently on the market.

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Kate Carmichael, resources officer at The Theatres Trust, said: 'More than half of the theatre buildings on the 2012 register have yet to find the financial and political support needed to secure a viable future.'

Before placing a theatre on the list, the trust must identify a risk such as threat of demolition, difficulties in obtaining capital or revenue or poor quality of operation which threatens the future theatre use of the building.

Kate added: 'In addition, the theatre buildings are awarded a star rating, which provides a qualitative judgment on the importance of the theatre in terms of its theatrical quality – for example acoustics, warmth, facilities, architectural quality, historical significance and uniqueness.'

Mark Price, heritage advisor at The Theatres Trust, said: 'I would like to see the building being used – anything which has a sustainable future.

'My message to people would be to get out there and use it. Some people might not even know what the building looks like inside.'

Darren Barker, conservation officer at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: 'It's a typical Edwardian seaside entertainment building.

'It has no end of uses.

'It was built as a cinema so it could be reverted back to that or another theatrical use. The worst thing would be if the building was left to deteriorate.'


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