Troubled Great Yarmouth theatre pavilion finally ready to open

PUBLISHED: 07:15 12 July 2013

View overlooking St Georges Pavillion, Yarmouth.

View overlooking St Georges Pavillion, Yarmouth.

Archant © 2012

A troubled pavilion billed as a key player in Great Yarmouth’s £8m bid to re-invent itself as cultural destination is finally set to be completed by the end of the month.

St George's Theatre, King Street. Picture: Nick Butcher.St George's Theatre, King Street. Picture: Nick Butcher.

It ends more than two years of frustration for council and community after building work on the flagship project slammed to a halt due to a mystery problem associated with the roof.

For bosses at the renovated St George’s theatre it means they can finally operate as intended with a sleek new bar, eating area, and ticket office – adding to their funding stream and properly announcing their presence in the town.

Because of the problems the theatre, in order to honour bookings and generate income, was forced to open in October with little signage allowed around the building and minimal front of house facilities.

General manager Chris Moore said the situation was “unhelpful” with much of the site hidden behind blue hoardings and passers-by thinking the whole place was shut.

Although many performances had still been well supported the opening of the glass-panelled pavilion would be a big benefit to the town adding a beautiful facility, alfresco seating, and – in time – an outdoor performance plaza.

Mr Moore said the aim was to have the whole thing open in August just in time for a string of summer shows and the town’s Maritime and Out There Festivals.

“It will really boost the cultural offering. The scheme is breathing more life back into King Street which is already a vibrant place... With the pavilion, coming to St George’s will be a much bigger experience in a beautiful building which is just bathed in light.”

Trevor Wainwright, leader of the ruling Labour group at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, hailed the end of the long-running saga as “good news” for the town after a frustrating few years with seemingly little progress.

“It was just a building site six weeks ago but they have really cracked on and it is looking really good, and it will be open to everyone,” he said.

“It has been incredibly frustrating, purely because of the delays which we were not able to get sorted as quickly as we wanted. There were so many people involved and it was difficult to cut through that. It put a huge burden on the theatre.

“Now it is really coming on in leaps and bounds. They have done all the floor and all the ceiling. It will be a huge benefit to the theatre which is a beautiful place already - but this will give it another factor.”

Heritage champion and former mayor Barry Coleman had wanted to open it in March 2011 during his year of office, more than two years ago.

Mr Wainwright said a dozen or so finger posts would be springing up around the town directing people to the threatre.

Jane Beck, customer services manager at the council, said the work had been completed at no extra cost to the council. She said: “It is still not known what caused the problem but everyone worked together to make things happen. We are hoping to open it with some fanfare although some of the outside paving work may not be completed until September.”

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