Expert says Futurist can be salvaged

Removing panels of cladding on The Futurist theatre for the first time since 1969, Patch Blackwell, left, from Scarborough Council, and John Wilson, commercial director of Shaws of Darwen, a specialist company in the restoration of architectural facades. Picture by Andrew Higgins   sn122822a
Removing panels of cladding on The Futurist theatre for the first time since 1969, Patch Blackwell, left, from Scarborough Council, and John Wilson, commercial director of Shaws of Darwen, a specialist company in the restoration of architectural facades. Picture by Andrew Higgins sn122822a

“Ugly” panels that cover Scarborough’s historic Futurist Theatre were pulled off for the first time in over 40 years in a bid to determine the condition of the building’s original frontage.

An expert in revamping historical buildings travelled to the town this morning to offer his views on whether the theatre can be restored to its former glory.

His intial inspection, which saw several panels removed, revealed the hidden ceramic facade was in “reasonable condition” for its age and there was no reason why it couldn’t be salvaged.

Now, the option of removing the panelling is set to be put forward as a potentially cheaper alternative to re-covering the building, which is expected to cost more than £650,000.

Jon Wilson, commercial director of Shaws of Darwen, said: “There are one or two strucutral issues that need to be addressed but it’s all repairable. Until we take the cladding off, it will be hard to predict the cost, but it would be certainly be good to bring it back to its former glory, which is certainly achievable.”

A planning brief mooting the restoration of the theatre’s frontage, which was covered by the panelling in 1969, is set to be presented to Scarborough councillors today.

The council’s property asset manager Alan Dargue, who oversaw the inspection, said: “Up until now we haven’t had any clear idea of how much it will cost. That’s why Shaws has been asked to come and have a look as we don’t have the expertise. If councillors accept the planning brief we will have to determine the different costs. We would all love to see it restored.”

Patricia David, who has been battling to save the Futurist for many years, organised yesterday’s inspection. The campaigner hopes the move will be a weapon in her arsenal in the fight to save the theatre, which could be sold-off for re-development as part of the controversial Town Hall move. Planners are set to make a decision on its relocation next Friday and Ms David is gearing up for a fight.

She said: “The council have been saying for years that it’s damaged beyond repair and that it would cost a fortune to repair. We know that a lot of it is not damaged and there is no evidence to say it is.

“It’s just another piece of ammunition in our battle. It’s a fight to the death and the battle ground is the council’s chamber next Friday.”

Castle Ward Cllr Colin Challen added: “I think it’s time we stood up and said what we want and that’s to keep the Futurist.”