A new dawn for the People's Palace but then... 2020 was the start of a new beginning for the Winter Gardens Morecambe, a Grade II* listed concert hall and theatre situated on the heart of Morecambe promenade. (Find out more about our history). We had worked tirelessly throughout 2019 to raise essential amounts of grant support, achieved the monthly target of costs required to pay for the overheads of £3000 a month, and paid off the debts from previous management of the building. To start the new season we had planned a number of significant events to enable us to raise the additional £50,000 required to match the funds already received and to enable the essential heating and restoration work to progress from November 2020. But overnight our income was lost, our dreams in tatters as events were cancelled, our spritely but elderly volunteers shielded and the future of the building once more in doubt.
By using our reserves, renegotiating the mortgage on the building and working with the Theatres Trust and Lancaster City Council the Preservation Trust who own the building under our Chair Professor Vanessa quickly secured a small Business Grant. (Meet the Trustees). Then with the help of the Friends and our Trustees we managed to secure enough income to pay the bills and our fixed costs of £3000 a month for five months.
Time is running out - we are totally run by volunteers and our income has dropped by 88% reducing our ability to match contribution towards our grants and no reserves for emergencies. We need to raise the remaining shortfall of £50,000 to ensure our heating and restoration works can start in November. We hope that every penny we raise on here will be matched by others so we have set a target of £25,000.
Bernie our retired French Polisher now in his 78th year restoring the mahogany doors of the original entrance. Bernie has been a volunteer for 15 years. Image Copyright Historic England
Our Volunteers have dedicated 1000s of hours of free time on the building over the last twenty years - they have rebuilt parts of the auditorium, repaired the stairs, rebuilt the dressing rooms and brought the beautiful building back to life. These images were taken before the Trust bought the building in 2006 and before our amazing restoration volunteers got to work
Shots of the auditorium & foyer before our volunteers started work on the building.
Through tears, laughter, sweat and sheer bloody mindedness they have perservered despite vandalism, limited access to funds and inclement seaside weather! They have worked with the Preservation Trust and the Friends of the Winter Gardens to bring us to this point where our shared dream of a viable working theatre was within our grasp. Our Restoration and Maintenance Volunteers
Trevor and Gerry cleaning the original Burmantoft tiled foyer and box offices dating from 1897 in 2019, photograph taken by Alun Bull Copyright Historic England. Images below taken before and after the work of our volunteers.
Friends of the Morecambe Winter Gardens
Since mid July, the Friends of the Morecambe Winter Gardens have returned to open the building offering tours, teas and coffees and a safe secure space to visit every weekend. They are on the ground opening the building, welcoming our visitors and doing their best to kickstart our funding campaign again. From taking tours, to running fundraising stalls, to opening the bar and cafe, our volunteers are determined to keep the building afloat in difficult times. But we cannot open for events, we cannot hire out the building, nor can live music or shows return once again until May 2021. We will have to sell a lot of toasties to make up for that loss of income!
Join the Friends
The restoration and re-opening of the Winter Gardens is a lifetime committment for the volunteers, the Friends and the many 1000s of visitors we have welcomed into our building every year. We all wish to see it once more became a beacon of hope, joy and culture in the heart of Morecambe. Our vision is ambitious but built on the love, faith and the committment shown by the volunteers and the Friends who for 20 years have dedicated their time and energy to bring this building back to life.
We have a moment, a precious window cruely narrowed by the national pandemic to find the match funding required to bring warmth, heat and stability back to our building, to enable us to open all year round and open the building fully with a functioning auditorium and seated circle area once again capable of holding 1500 people.
Image Copyright Damian Rose
We are so close to having a viable future for the first time since we closed in 1977, help us achieve this by supporting our fundraising campaign as part of Save Our Theatres to bring the People's Palace back to the people of Morecambe, Lancashire and the world. For what Lancashire does today the world does tomorrow.
About Save Our Theatres
In villages, towns and cities across the country, theatres are at the heart of their community. Places to come together, to be inspired and be entertained. Theatres are where our best-loved actors learn their craft and thousands of others learn valuable skills. Please support the Morecambe Winter Gardens or any of our fellow theatres as we strive to once to welcome you into our palaces of wonder.
Please donate, share this page widely and do what you can to help us to make sure our theatre survive this crisis.
#SaveOurTheatres - Morecambe Winter Gardens