Landmark theatre is among 49 on national ‘at risk’ list

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HERITAGE experts have named the Grand Theatre in Doncaster on a list of 49 venues across the United Kingdom that are at risk of being lost forever.

The Theatres Trust warned yesterday that the Grade II listed theatre, on Trafford Way next to the Frenchgate Centre, could fall into dereliction and be demolished, unless the owners ‘recognise they are responsible for community assets and work with trusts and local communities to secure their future’.

Built in 1899, the Grand Theatre in Doncaster stopped hosting stage productions in 1961 and became a bingo hall until it closed altogether in 1995.

It has been saved from demolition due to the work of groups including Doncaster Civic Trust, which succeeded in getting listed status for the building.

Publishing the Theatre Buildings At Risk register yesterday, the Theatres Trust said the buildings on it are ‘particularly vulnerable to neglect’ due to a lack of care and investment.

They added: “Opportunities to harness the social and cultural value of theatres are being lost.

“The passing of the Localism Act in November 2011 and its emphasis on social wellbeing means local authorities now have to prepare lists of assets of community value, which include cultural interests such as theatres.

“The trust’s hope is that this will encourage more owners of theatres at risk to realise that their theatres are assets, for the community and the country.”

The trust’s director, Mhora Samuel, said: “The good news is that, overall, the number of buildings on our Theatre Buildings At Risk Register has come down – from 56 last year to 49 this year.”