Morecambe theatre shapes up for busiest year in decades

Trevor Westby and fellow Friends of Morecambe Winter Gardens on the refurbished floor
Trevor Westby and fellow Friends of Morecambe Winter Gardens on the refurbished floor

You will be floored by the line-up at the Winter Gardens in 2016.

Morecambe’s grand old theatre is shaping up for its busiest programme of events in many a year including a return for TV comedian Jon Richardson on July 9 .

This year also marks the 30th birthday of the Friends of the Winter Gardens and 10 years since its group of hardy volunteers formed a trust to buy and restore the building.

To mark the occasion, the theatre will host a 30th anniversary variety special in May.

And to prepare for the celebrations, the 550 square metre theatre floor has been sanded and treated for the first time in more than a century.

The floor has come up like new and painter and decorator Michael Lyons, of Abrahams in Lancaster, is proud of the job he’s done after spending many painstaking hours restoring its original look.

The Winter Gardens Preservation Trust paid for the floor treatment using cash raised from a ‘Sponsor a Plank’ scheme more than 10 years ago. This project asked people to pay for planks so they could lay a brand new level floor inside the Grade II* listed venue.

But Evelyn Archer, chairman of the Winter Gardens Preservation Trust, said: “English Heritage now don’t want us to lay a level floor so we’ve done this instead. We sent out about 1,000 letters to people who sponsored a plank to get their permission.”

The next jobs are to paint the Horseshoe Bar floor, then install wooden railings around the perimeter of the main floor.

The 19th Century theatre is still in the midst of a gradual restoration and has slowly built up its number of events in recent years. Last year saw the opening of the Parisian Bar, a coffee lounge, bar and live music venue at the front of the theatre.

Events planned for 2016 include pro wrestling (the next show is on March 19), Footloose the Musical (April 6 to 9), Aladdin by Attic Door Productions (April 17 to 20), The Tempest as part of the ‘Bard by the Beach’ Shakespeare Festival (April 21-23), The Ugly Bug Ball Variety Festival (April 30), a Pink Floyd tribute (May 7), the North Lancs Soul Festival soul weekender (May 21), the Friends of the Winter Gardens’ Anniversary Variety Festival (May 28) and live music in the Parisian Bar including Boogie Bill Roberts (March 20 , May 15, June 12), Club Tropicana 80s weekend (March 25, 26 and 27) Jazz Mansion (April 1 and May 6), Mick Dyer and Musicians (April 3, June 19), Northern Soul (June 11), Motown Night (June 17) and Harri Deane on Armed Forces Day (June 26).