Letter: Futurist facade can be restored

Re the letter '˜Theatre's hidden facade is a rare find' (Scarborough News, November 17): The faience was not manufactured by Doulton, as claimed.

Thursday, 1st December 2016, 11:14 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 11:42 am
The Futurist Theatre

There were four companies who made white glaze faience to resemble Carrara marble which was quarried at Carrara in Italy.

The companies were Doulton, The Leeds Fireclay Co, Shaws of Darwen and Hathern Station Brick and Terra Cotta Co Loughborough (known as Hathernware Ltd from 1938). The manufacturers of the faience tiles and mouldings on the Futurist were Hathern Station Brick and Terra Cotta Co and the faience was fixed in place by local firm Plaxtons (see Decorative

Scheme for the Futurist described by Val Prince for the ‘cinema’ publication July 7, 1921, for confirmation).

To quote a letter I have from Hans Van Lemmen, president of the Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society, “The exact name of the producer is not a key issue. What is important is that the Futurist theatre, with its fine neo-classical detailing executed in high grade white faience is a good example of an inter-war theatre that adds quality to the built environment of Scarborough and should be preserved.”

Hans Van Lemmen (whom I already had met) was consulted, prior to the first application for listing, in 2010, which was prepared by Patricia David, Colin Bainbridge, who is a cinema historian, and myself. Two letters assessing the faience from Mr Van Lemmen, were submitted with that application. It was Hans Van Lemmen who recommended Jon Wilson, managing director of Shaws of Darwen to us. Shaws of Darwen are world-renowned faience specialist restorers, eg the Royal Albert Hall and the Wrigley Building, Chicago.

Jon Wilson came to examine the Futurist in July 2012 at his own expense. His report, which included assessment of the current condition of the faience together with what small amount of restoration work that would be required, was included with the second listing application 2014, prepared by Patricia David and me. Photos of the faience front elevation plus close-ups of decorative detail were submitted with both applications.

Ms Sheppard mentioned Paul Atterbury, the TV Antiques Roadshow expert. He has been a keen supporter/adviser from the start of the campaign in 2009.

Our business case DVD of summer 2016, which was sent to every councillor, contained information regarding the value of the faience and its restoration.

Exceptional examples of ceramics for architectural features and ornamentation such as on the Futurist are scarce. Whether they be Hathern, Doulton, Shaws or Leeds Fireclay they are of equal quality. Their significance architecturally means they are worthy of preservation as part of Scarborough’s heritage.

Diana TaskerWeaponness Valley CloseScarborough