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SAVE THE CROWN THEATRE ECCLES CAMPAIGN DOES GUERILLA ART STATEMENT
 

Star date: 26th July 2015

SALFORD GRADE 2 LISTED THEATRE IN DANGER OF DEMOLITION

Campaigners trying to save the Grade 2 listed Crown Theatre in Eccles did a bit of direct art action yesterday, producing a mural at the front of the building depicting how the old theatre could be used in the future – rather than being bulldozed to make way for more expensive apartments.

"It opened as a working class theatre for the working man" said Save The Crown Theatre campaign's Jon Grieves "It was the first theatre in Eccles, so let's not make it the last and demolish it which I believe is on the cards."

Full details and lots of interior photos here...


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click image to enlarge

Yesterday, as artist Bree Hughes was at work producing a mural at the front of the Crown Theatre, loads of local people were stopping to sign the petition to save the Grade 2 listed building on Liverpool Road in Eccles and to share fond memories of the old theatre, cinema and bingo hall.

One woman told campaigners that she used to be an usherette when it was a cinema and nearly fell off the top of the gods on the fourth tier of the 2,500 capacity building, while others just remembered going there as kids...

"I used to come here as a small child with my brother, when it was the Crown picture house" said Barbara Zdanowisz "It's a lovely building and it's been used for lots of different things, it's just a shame that something like this should be knocked down or just left to crumble; it's just going bit by bit.

"It's a nice place but something needs to be done because it's now an eyesore" she added "It needs something like this, something for Eccles, Patricroft and Salford, so people can use it again."

In front of Barbara, the mural was depicting exactly what that something should be, with pictures of bands, concerts and dances being created to make a guerrilla art statement of intent.

"Basically we want to keep the facade as it is, which is the main listed part of the building, and we want to use it as a community auditorium" explained Save The Crown Theatre Eccles campaigner, Jon Grieves "We want it to be a multi-purpose building for use as a theatre, for dance, shows, cinema and bands. We want to make the most of it having a big capacity, and to make use of the gods which are still in there.

"During the day it will have community uses – a drop-in cafe for people with Alzheimer's, a space to host holiday sessions for children, there's lots of rooms down the sides which could be used by all kinds of groups and societies" he adds "Structurally it's solid, it's walls are two and a half feet thick, it's a Victorian build and isn't going anywhere..."

The Lyceum Theatre, as it was called, was opened in 1899 (built 1898), and was re-named the Crown Theatre in 1907, hosting many of the top variety acts of the day, so popular that extra buses had to be laid on from Urmston to cope with getting crowds to the venue. It became a cinema in 1932 and a bingo hall in 1963, finally closing in the 1980s.

From then, it was left to rot until, in 2003, Ty Jeffries - son of mega famous actor, Lionel Jeffries - who was living in Canterbury Gardens in Eccles, fought Salford Council to get the building listed, as speculators began talking of demolition to make way for apartments.

The building was Grade 2 listed in that year, with English Heritage noting that the Crown was "a rare surviving example of a suburban working-class theatre that still retains the original form of its auditorium and front of house".

Indeed, despite years of dereliction, fires and kids messing about in the place, the Crown's interior iron structure is still intact on all four floors and the local community has been trying to look after the space.

There were proposals in Salford City Council's Liverpool Road Corridor 10 Year Strategy (2007-17) for the partial demolition of the Crown, with the facade to be retained within a scheme for 92 apartments – but that planning permission has now expired.

Instead, campaigners believe that there are now plans afoot to totally demolish the building and redevelop the site as an apartment block. An email sent to a Save The Crown Theatre member from local councillor and Assistant Mayor, Lisa Stone, apparently confirms the intentions.

However, current owner, David Monks, is understood to be willing to sell the Crown to campaigners if they can raise enough money and get the backing of the Council for their scheme.

"There's a hunger amongst the Eccles people to do something with the building so we've got what we're calling this little `Branksy', or artwork going on the front, to try and show people that it's got life" said Jon Grieves "It's not hurting anyone and it's brightening it up and hopefully it will get people keen on it again. We don't want to save the building and have a folly, we want a use for it, will prove there's a use for it and will raise the money for it."

The cost will be, what Jon calls, "a good few £million" but he and many others believe it will be well worth it to bring Eccles back to life, with the Crown right on the edge of the town centre.

Indeed, official priorities of the Eccles Community Committee are `Improvement to Eccles Town Centre', the `Growth and sustainability of businesses in Eccles Town Centre' and `To improve the visitor offer within Eccles Town Centre'. So far, little has happened, despite £50,000 from the High Street Innovation Fund.

While the Queens Arms Hotel up the road in Green Lane has been awarded Asset of Community Value status, protecting it from speculators, the Crown Theatre hasn't been afforded such luxury as yet...

"We want to save the building but don't know enough about how to do it" says Jon "We need to find someone who will help us tackle the people and authorities which need tackling. We've just got the ball rolling but we need to find someone with the skills to do things like a feasibility study, fundraising and getting the backing of local celebrities. We're desperate for that..."

What the campaigners are brilliant at, is drawing attention to the plight of yet another listed building in Salford that is in imminent danger, with yesterday's `Branksy' guerrilla art project drawing in many new supporters.

"If we get the building it will go back to its original name, the Eccles Lyceum, the people's theatre" says Jon "But we need to move fast and we want Eccles and Salford people to get behind it and Save The Crown Theatre Eccles!"


* Save The Crown Theatre Eccles campaigners are holding their regular meeting this Wednesday 29th July 6pm at the Nur Malaysia Community Cafe (opp the Mosque) on Liverpool Road – everyone is welcome to attend

There is also a new Just Giving page set up by campaigner Rachel Potts to fund a feasibility study – click here

For further details of the campaign see the Help Save The Crown Theatre Eccles facebook page – click here

Miss G wrote
at 11:47:34 on 19 October 2018
Dear Sir I wish to help with the cause of Save the Crown Theatre in Eccles. At the moment, I have no money to give but I would like to make a suggestion. If the place cannot be saved as a theatre, is there any chance that it could be transformed in an Arts and Crafts events' building? There are lots of creative outlet and people in and around Salford, not least the proximity to the Media City area, with the best expertise and infra-structure of the British Media. This fact in itself would be enough for any savvy entrepreneur to take a chance on the project. Why not make it a place for like-minded creative types to meet and, well, Create? I believe in the energizing element of the power of creation that Arts and Crafts can bring and we are much in need of that, lately, wouldn't you agree? I also believe that, the whole community in Eccles would be really happy to get involved and help with the project. Who knows, you could potentially be nurturing the next worldly famous artist to put Salford on the Space stage, because Salford is mostly definitely already on the Google Maps. #You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one” Try us! Get the ball rolling! Yours faithfully Gina Scott
 
Chris hargreaves wrote
at 20:33:55 on 13 July 2017
I owned this building over 10 years ago when it was made a listed building thus stopping our planning application Planning permission was applied for to provide affordable rental apartments plus more importantly a number of sheltered units for henshaws who would have provided accommodations for a number of blind people Unfortunately the selfish forced through a listing We are now seeing again again the impratical aspirations manifesting themselves THe Crown has no architectural virtues worth saving i would like to thank all the selfish self indulgent people who stopped needed accomadation being provided in the centre of Eccles
 
Yvonne Joseph wrote
at 05:42:33 on 25 March 2016
Hope this theatre can be saved. It is part of the community assets and so many assets are already lost in the name of 'modernisation'.
 
Kate Butterworth wrote
at 14:05:40 on 29 February 2016
Please save this beautiful theatre! Stop destroying buildings that could be restored & used for the community.
 
Colin Hughes wrote
at 09:17:51 on 01 December 2015
I can see that this wonderful Salford Council who invested a lot of my council tax money in some crappy rugby stadium will cheerfully demolish this beautiful bit of Eccles history and build some junk that will make them some money!!!!
 
Paul Kelly wrote
at 12:00:39 on 25 October 2015
If the Eccles community chip inn and the money went forward too reopen as what it was once I'm sure many would pop inn !!!!! Unfortunately I've Hurd homes are also on plans off future , but lest hope that the decision is bace on shot off wot pleasure this building can give and not whot we all live inn on a daily basis , We NEED CHANGE !!!!!!!!
 
Jon Grieves wrote
at 09:50:17 on 06 October 2015
Next Meeting of the 'Save the Crown Theatre Eccles' will be on Tuesday 13th October 2015 at 6pm Venue: Nur Malaysia Community Café, Liverpool Road, (Just 100yds from the Theatre) Eccles, M30 0WA If you can not attend please contact us via Salford Star or our Facebook: help Save the Crown Theatre Eccles - Public Group Twitter: Savethecrown @EcclesLyceum email:Savethecrown@mail.com
 
Tracey wrote
at 21:50:37 on 05 October 2015
Save the Crown Theatre - where is English Heritage they usually have a lot to say about saving buildings and keeping it
 
Jon Grieves wrote
at 19:57:38 on 05 October 2015
Planning application has now been 'released' by Salford City Council. 30th September 15 We have been pushing our local Ward councillors and have had a meeting with our elected MP Rebecca Long Bailey for information on the planning application as Salford People want to Save this Grade II Listed Victorian Theatre. Built 117 years ago and as Solid now as when it was built!! However, Developers, and those who benefit from alternative 'Benefits' derived from development monies and dare I say 'in house political perks' may be less solid to community values? Or will they...........
 
wrote
at 16:03:23 on 15 September 2015
Regarding the Save the Victoria Theatre campaign, I did several vidoes about this building and attended meetings of this committee, that was several years ago, since then they would appear to have done nothing and have not answered any of my e-mails expressing my concerns. Does anybody have any idea what they are up to? I do hope that the Crown Theatre can be saved but urgent and drastic action is needed before any more structural damage takes place.
 
jon wrote
at 20:12:34 on 14 September 2015
I think that theatre is beyond repair by the looks of it, you would be better of raising the money to build a new one - it would be cheaper. It looks half demolished as it is. Surely the campaigners would be better of joining forces with the group trying to sake the Victoria Theatre in in salford, which is in a much more stable condition and with much of it's original art deco features still in place. Please try to save that instead - this is a lost cause. http://www.salfordvictoria.co.uk/index.php?page=home-new
 
caroline gray wrote
at 06:43:09 on 19 August 2015
save...now.....i agree with tony.....oops..does this mean people now ..do not hate people who own or once owned property are they not so hated ..as means pull down destroy..as we hate them...so is said... now is only new.. new workman ship rubbish at hight cost..disgrace...we lost our home dated 1840.......in eccles with every thing in it....so u save u try to buy... same thing u work hard as we didxxxx
 
tony Mcloughlin wrote
at 17:12:28 on 18 August 2015
Save this brilliant building....surely a conversion job maintaining at least the wonderful external walls would be better than another soulless modern building. Eccles has lost too much of its heritage and needs to preserve some vestidges of its former glory
 
Theo Fowler wrote
at 17:17:38 on 29 July 2015
Save the Crown Theatre Eccles
 
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