Readstone Construction starts work on Pendle Hippodrome renovation

By We Love Creative

12 Oct 2023

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Altham-based construction firm, Readstone, has started work on a £1.6m refurbishment which will breathe new life into the Pendle Hippodrome Theatre in Colne.

The year-long programme of work will ensure that the New Market Street theatre meets modern needs, while retaining its period features and original charm.

The project, funded by the government’s Levelling Up money, involves alterations to the ground and first floor of the former historic Derby Arms public house, including the installation of three passenger lifts and the redevelopment of the existing theatre’s foyer, box office and toilet areas.

Readstone were delighted to win the contract in a close-run tender process between other local firms.

Simon Whittam, project director at Readstone Construction, said: “When we received the brief to create a West End style theatre in Colne, we immediately wanted to be involved.

“I’m a local lad myself; I live in Laneshawbridge and went to school in Colne, so the Pendle Hippodrome and Derby Arms have long been staple landmarks throughout my life.

“To be able to ensure the building’s longevity within the town is extremely humbling and we can’t wait to share updates of the work with the public as the project progresses.”

The Pendle Hippodrome Theatre was opened in 1914 as a cinema and variety theatre. In 2014, the Hippodrome owners bought the Derby Arms with a vision to link the two buildings and provide disabled access and facilities.

Access to Colne’s Levelling Up funding has now enabled this to become a reality.

Kevin Mason, director of the Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company, said: “The Pendle Hippodrome Theatre has been entertaining audiences for almost 110 years and within that time not a lot has changed within the building.

“While it is important to us to retain the historic features of both the theatre and the Derby Arms, including decorative cornices and cast-iron seats, there is a lot of work to be done to future-proof the building and make it accessible for all – right now there are a lot of steps!

“The Derby Arms was in quite a severe state of disrepair when we bought it, and we knew it would need a huge amount of investment to achieve our dream.

“Luckily the Levelling Up fund has enabled us to forge ahead with our plans and Readstone have already done an incredible job of stripping the premises, while remaining sensitive to its important historic past.”

The contract has secured full-time work for 12 Readstone employees over the next year and additional work for up to 10 subcontractors as the project begins to ramp up.

Simon said: “This is a great project for Readstone and enables us to retain a wealth of local skills within the area.”

Councillor Asjad Mahmood, leader of Pendle Borough Council, said: “It is great to see a local business with such a passion for the area working on such an important project for Colne, and we can feel rest assured, not only will Readstone do a fantastic job on bringing Pendle Hippodrome back to life with these renovations, they will do it with pride.”

The Pendle Hippodrome Theatre is a part of a £6.5 million project to restore Colne’s Heritage Quarter as the go-to destination for visitors to Pendle. 

The Levelling Up funding is also going towards bringing the Little Theatre and The Muni Theatre back to their former glory, so that Colne can raise the curtain on entertainment in the area for years to come.

Colne Market Hall will be refurbished with improved space for market traders and housing for town centre living will be created. 

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