St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth has reopened after an £8 million refurbishment, having been beset by months of construction delays and the relocation of several shows.
The 300-seat venue, located within a 16th-century chapel, launched its preview season last week after Great Yarmouth Borough Council handed over the lease of the premises to the St George’s Arts Centre Trust.
All of the remaining shows that had been relocated have now been moved back to the grade I-listed building.
The chapel was converted into a theatre in 1972, but structural deterioration forced it to close in 2006.
The renovation project was launched in 2009 after the venue was awarded several grants, including £2.9 million from a government programme designed to rejuvenate seaside towns and £2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It was part of a wider £9.3 million plan for the area surrounding the chapel, led by the borough council.
The theatre was intended to reopen in February this year, but construction delays pushed the date back. In September, the venue announced it would be unable to host its new programme because of a structural fault in the neighbouring cafe pavilion. A dispute between the construction company and architect over who was liable for the fault, and the council’s refusal to accept a partial handover of the site, delayed the opening.
Trevor Wainwright, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, confirmed that work on the pavilion, which contains catering, toilet and front-of-house facilities, has now recommenced and is expected to be complete by spring 2013.
He said: “Work on the [pavilion] structure is now back under way and it is hoped it will be finished by the spring. In the meantime, that area of the site will remain protected by hoardings.
“The opening of St George’s Theatre is wonderful news for the borough. Great Yarmouth Borough Council has worked hard for some years to secure as much funding as possible in order to preserve one of the town’s most iconic buildings – which had fallen into a state of disrepair,” he added.
In reference to whether the architect or construction company had been found liable for the fault, a spokesman said there were “provisions in the contract” for dealing with this and that “discussions are ongoing.”