Restoration project under way at town’s iconic ‘sleeping beauty’ music venue

A target of 2027 has been set for the restoration of ‘sleeping beauty’ Morecambe Winter Gardens.

Work has begun on a new infrastructure scheme at the Grade II-listed building, which was built in 1897 and hosted a range of global artists, from Elgar to the Rolling Stones, before closing in 1977.

Project manager, Place Capital Group (PCG), and lead architect, Buttress, have set the 2027 target for completion of work at the site.

In April 2023, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Cultural Development Fund awarded £2.3m to the Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust for the project.

Now, new restorative works have begun that will improve amenities and increase the music venue’s capacity from 1,000 to 1,600.

Buttress was appointed for the feasibility study that secured funding, and a conservation plan, survey and masterplan for the future of the building.

The building’s old electrical system will be rewired, with accessible lift, AV and lighting equipment added. The funds will also go towards an acoustic shell for the building’s fly-tower.

Prof Vanessa Toulmin

The end goal, with further funding, is for Morecambe Winter Gardens to become a 2,300-capacity music venue within three years.

The next step in realising this ambition includes a further planning application, submitted in spring 2024 for a two-storey extension.

Subject to planning, this has a provisional start-on-site timeframe of autumn 2024.

Buttress Director, Stephen Anderson, said: “We are excited to be further progressing the restoration of this historic venue of great importance to the people of Morecambe. We will continue to work with the trust and its partners to support them through the planning process and deliver a landmark venue.”

The trust’s Chair, Prof Vanessa Toulmin of the University of Sheffield, said: “The Winter Gardens has been a sleeping beauty for over 40 years. It’s a building that is central to Morecambe’s regeneration.

“We have a wonderful architect in Buttress and the project manager Place Capital Group has been fantastic in their support for us.”

Project Director of PCG, Eleanor Binns, said: “I’m looking forward to delivering this infrastructure scheme, it’s part of the journey to recreating this fantastic space for the trust and ultimately for the local community.”

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