WATCH: Campaign to save Salford’s historic Victoria Theatre reignites

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The campaign to save Salford’s Grade II listed historical Victoria theatre re-emerged recently, giving new hope for its possible future reuse. 

The Victoria theatre in Lower Broughton has stood derelict since its closure in 2007 but a derelict explorer recently entered the building and released photographs of its current state – stirring new interest in the campaign.

The campaign group have been working over the past five years to get the attention of local Councillors, MPs, and investors. Salford City Council have now pledged their support for the campaign in the hope of securing its positive reuse.

Allen Christey, Company Secretary of the Salford Victoria Theatre Trust said, “Support from the council has been very good. Paul Dennett, the Mayor of Salford and local MP Graham Stringer have together commissioned a report on three buildings at risk in the area, one being the Salford Victoria Theatre so we are awaiting the outcome of that.”

But derelict explorer, Matthew Holmes voiced his concern of the current state of the building, “There’s quite a lot of dry rot in there, the wooden floor boards are extremely damp and wet, and the roof tiling is quite bad so it’s letting a lot of weather in.

“Give it another five to eight years and this building will be falling down.

“If we act now we can save it, if we act in five or six years’ time they’ll eventually deem it too unsafe to save and it will just be knocked down and lost.”

The former theatre, first opened in 1901, was used as a cinema from 1920 before transitioning into a bingo hall in the 1950s, and hosting occasional performances until 1972. Christey himself has close personal ties with the building, having performed on stage, worked, and visited the building in his youth.

“I’m so passionate about the place because I appeared there. I was instrumental in getting it listed in 1982 and I kept an eye on it ever since.

“When I was sixteen I could have taken various paths in life, some of which would not have been very suitable. I had the wonderful experience of being taken into a theatre group and appearing on stage at the Victoria and that changed my life. That is an opportunity which shaped who I am and I would like that opportunity to be given to every youngster in town.”

The Save the Victoria Theatre campaign was launched in 2012 but was short-lived. The recent surge in support and attention has given new hope to the campaigners.

Allen said, “I’d like to see the building become a community hub. Every public performance space within the borough has been shut. They’re all now defunct, after suffering cuts. So there’s nowhere for theatre groups – or any activity – to go, except the Lowry, which is lovely and beautiful, but so expensive.

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Will is Quays News online editor. He looks after and organises content from entertainment, as well as overseeing the sites sport and news output.

3 Comments

  1. Allen Christey-Casson on

    H i there are inaccuracy’s in the text .The Victoria closed as a cinema in in 1958 and reopened as a theater in 1960 and was run by Sam Goldberg under the manager Norman Williams until his death in 1971 the theater then closed and became a bingo hall .The campaign was not short lived in 2012 it has been active ever since working very hard to create the structures and network to carry the project forward Regards Allen

    • Hi Allen Christy-Casson I’m assuming you are part of the society to protect this building and i absolutely commend your efforts it is a lively building. I would like to ask (and I hope you don’t mind) but did Matthew have permission from the owners to enter or did he as he says sneak in? I find it a little odd that he would sneak in if it was possible to see the inside with permission.

  2. I was in here with a friend while you were filming the outside, coincidently. If we’d known what you were doing, we would have helped you in so you could take some decent internal shots. Sadly, it’s wrong to suggest that the building merely has five to eight years left. It’s actually in surprisingly good condition and there is clear evidence of the owner having used equipment to dry out some of the wet areas. There is one small area on the bottom floor where the floor is completely rotten and a few other parts that have been affected by water ingress. However, the tier above that area was fine. Yes, there are a few tiles missing off the roof. But it is all structurally sound, many of the original features are completely unscathed and other than that small rotten patch (maybe 50cm by 1m) the floors are sound too. Someone has been around it looking under the modern plasterboard to reveal some of the original features, which are still there and well preserved. It’s a beautiful building, not even remotely near collapse. There is a definite danger in overstating these things, because if it is too far gone, what is left to save. Matt’s images are poorly lit, so don’t really show the building at it’s best, even in it’s current state of abandonment. It’s really quite beautiful when captured properly.

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