Morecambe Winter Gardens Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust c Wikimedia UK user Nilfanion via CC BY SA . SLASH FAlkqq

Morecambe Winter Gardens will receive a new extension with lifts and toilets thanks to the Cultural Development Fund. Credit: Wikimedia UK user Nilfanion via CC BY-SA 4.0,

North West nets £4.3m from Cultural Investment Fund

Morecambe Winter Gardens was the big winner for the region, with £2.7m secured for the continued renovation of the grade two star-listed concert hall.

The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport announced the winners of the latest round of Cultural Investment Fund awards on Monday. More than 70 cultural venues claimed a portion of £58.8m from the fund.

Culture secretary Lucy Frazer described how improving cultural venues like theatres, museums, and libraries is part of the government’s levelling up agenda.

“Culture helps us create lifelong memories with our families and friends, provides entertainment and joy, and allows us to explore the world around us in new and exciting ways,” she said. “It can also boost tourism, support local business, and drive local economic growth.”

Frazer continued: “This funding will support brilliant arts organisations to upgrade their venues and create new projects that will be at the heart of their communities.”

Launched in 2019, the Cultural Investment Fund is divided into three parts: the Cultural Development Fund, the Libraries Improvement Fund, and the Museum Estate and Development Fund.

Morecambe Winter Gardens’ award comes from the Cultural Development Fund, which gave out £32.4m to eight projects. Among the other CDF winners was Bradford’s Kala Sangam, which received £5m.

The Libraries Improvement Fund gave out £4.9m to 27 different libraries. In the North West, Manchester Libraries received £200,000 and Oldham Council Libraries secured £151,500. St Helens Council Library Service was awarded £276,000.

The Museum Estate and Development Fund awarded £21.4m to 36 organisations. In the North West, Salford Museum and Art Gallery received £105,000, while the Queen’s Park Stores in Manchester was awarded £674,000. The Fusilier Museum in Bury received £144,000.

More about Morecambe Winter Gardens

Morecambe Winter Gardens dates back to July 1897, when it was a theatre extension to the Winter Gardens Complex. In its heyday, the theatre boasted a capacity of 2,500 and hosted performances by The Who, Edward Elgar, and Julie Andrews.

The Winter Gardens Complex shut in 1977, with the main Winter Gardens building being demolished in 1982 leaving only the theatre remaining.

A group of volunteers formed the Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust in 2006, beginning work on restoring the theatre in the decades since.

Using the £2.7m from CDF,  the volunteers will build a two-storey extension with toilets, accessible lifts, and a fire escape. The building’s old electrical system will be rewired, with AV and lighting equipment added. The money will also go towards an acoustic shell for the building’s fly-tower.

The goal is for Morecambe Winter Gardens to become a 1,600-capacity music venue within three years.

Vanessa Toulmin, a professor at the University of Sheffield and chair of the Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust, described receiving the CDF funding as “a historic day for the Winter Gardens”, adding that the award marks the biggest investment in the theatre for more than a century.

“I am overjoyed for the residents of Morecambe who have shown such love and loyalty to the building over the many years of disappointment, thankful for the support of my board, our partners, our donors, and funders, and of course our wonderful volunteers,” Toulmin continued.

“We still have a long way to go, but this funding gets us nearer to our ambition of making our building sing and be known once again as the people’s palace – the Albert Hall of the North.”

Lancaster City Council Leader Cllr Caroline Jackson praised Toulmin and her team for their work in securing the award.

“It will enable an amazing building to come back to life to provide entertainment to audiences from across the region,” Jackson said.

“More than that it will provide a boost to the cultural sector and hope for local young people who dream of entering it.”

In addition to the £2.7m from CDF, the Winter Gardens has received £1.8m in support over the past three years from Historic England Theatres Trust, Architectural Heritage Fund, University of Sheffield, Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council, Morecambe Town Council, public donors, and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Your Comments

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‘Toilets and a lift’. Paints an interesting picture of exactly what is being levelled up, and the value the government really places on it.

By Sceptical

This is a stunning building and deserves this award to help restore essential services .

By Graham Wilson

Did I see Merseyside mentioned anywhere in this article. Oh no….we are not in leveling up. We are still under government ‘managed decline’.

By Anon

Wonderful news
I have been a supporter of the project and have offered my services as a clock restorer for free . I have been heavily involved with the Cross Bay Walks under the tutelage of Cedric Robinson and Micheal Wilson, I do my bit to help promote the region and to help the area regain some of its past glory.
Good luck everyone

By Rick Worsey

About time

By Beano

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