Counting Down to the North West Regional Construction Awards on Thursday | HPA | Awards

Counting Down to the North West Regional Construction Awards on Thursday

We’re thrilled that the restoration works to the façade of Lancaster Grand Theatre have been shortlisted for the North West Regional Construction Awards.

The project has been nominated in the Conservation and Regeneration category and as a result of this also in the Lancashire Sub-Regional Project of the Year.

Working on behalf of Lancaster Footlights Trust HPA were appointed as Lead Architect, devising a scheme for repair and restored the façade of Lancaster Grand Theatre. the project, has been supported by grant funding from the Lancaster High Streets Heritage Action Zone, a collaborative regeneration scheme run in partnership between Historic England and Lancaster City Council.

The Lancaster Grand Theatre is a thriving community asset and a key project within the Canal Quarter Regeneration Area, a scheme which seeks to revitalise a 16-acre site within Lancaster city centre.

The area covered by Lancaster High Street Heritage actions Zone is home to an extraordinarily rich heritage and helps to shape the city’s distinctive character. Works to the theatre will help to act as a catalyst to reinvigorate this part of the city, and its cultural offer, as well as strengthening connectivity to contribute to the wider plans that are emerging for the Canal Quarter

Located on St Leonard’s Gate, within the Lancaster Conservation Area, the property is designated as a Grade II listed building. Opening as ‘The Theatre, Lancaster’ a purpose-built theatre in 1782, the building would have served as one of Britain’s first purpose-built theatre houses at the time. The theatre is recorded in the National Heritage List for England and has impressively been running as a theatre almost continually ever since its initial opening.

Throughout this time, the theatre has undergone numerous changes in ownership, extensions, alterations and rebuilds during both the 19th and 20th centuries. These included repairs made after a devastating fire in 1908 which is believed to have damaged the building significantly Water ingress had led to the degradation of interior finishes and drove the need for repair.

Some key historical events at the Grand include its purchase by Edmund Sharpe, the English architect and architectural historian who altered and re-opened the theatre as ‘The Music Hall’ in 1843. Later in 1897 theatre architect Frank Matcham helped re-open the theatre as ‘The Athenaeum’, where he supervised extensive re-modelling of the stage and auditorium.

Prior to works commencing at the Lancaster Grand Theatre, there has been widespread support for what the project could achieve: “We are supportive of these plans, which would update the theatre’s appearance in a fashion which is appropriate for a historic building within a conservation area whilst also being of contemporary style, which will help broaden the appeal of the theatre to a wider audience.” Tom Clarke MRTPI, National Planning Adviser.

With such a rich and important history, it has been important for HPA to understand the history of the building so that repairs and redecorations were carried out tastefully, effectively, and successfully. With our client Lancaster Footlights Trust, HPA devised a scheme for repair of the façade of the theatre which was grounded in a minimum intervention approach.

HPA also sought assistance from David Wiggins, of Clach Conservation Engineering, following the identification of significant structural defects which became more apparent following the removal of the modern paint. The repair works saw the need to strengthen a degrading timber lintel and rebuild the rubble core of the solid wall. The scheme has also seen the erection of new signage and lighting on the building to improve its presence within the local streetscape.

The project at Lancaster Grand Theatre demonstrates the positive outcomes produced, from a collaborative approach to works between Conservation Architect, Conservation Engineer, Contractor, specialists, and the charity. This has been a careful and laboured repair and restoration of a 200-year-old façade. The scheme has created an enhancement to the listed building and Conservation Area, using traditional materials to repair the historic fabric of the building, along with the reinstatement historical form and features.

“This is an exciting project for both Lancaster Grand and the City as the building plays such a vital role within the local community. Our investigations so far have revealed that the façade of the building is particularly important not only because of its grand architectural form, but also due to the materials that this is made from. We are looking forward to getting the repair works underway to help revitalise this special building and support its ongoing success”. – Jess Barrow, Heritage, and Planning Consultant, HPA.

Lancaster Grand Theatre is a thriving community asset, and its façade renewal and refurbishment has delivered a key project within the Canal Quarter Regeneration area of Lancaster city centre, restoring, and enhancing the historic character of the area.

Organisations and individuals including have been involved in the improvements and repairs to the Grand including:

Client: Lancaster Footlights and Lancaster Grand Theatre Lancaster Grand

Architects: Hpa Chartered Architects

Design advice and grant funding support: Lancaster High Streets Heritage Action Zone, works funded by Historic England and Lancaster City Council

Principal contractor: Duckett Building Services

Structural engineer: Clach Conservation Engineering

These works have also been further supported by several local contractors and suppliers, as well as wider repairs to the building carried out under earlier phases by Mather and Ellis Stonemasons.

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