Listed seaside theatre added to 'at risk' register of venues

The new Stars venue on Regent Road, Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass

Inside The Regent Theatre in Regent Road as it prepared to reopen as the Stars showbar and nightclub. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

An 'impressive' seaside theatre has been added to an 'at risk' register.

The Regent Theatre in Great Yarmouth's Regent Road is one of ten new entries to the register compiled by the Theatres Trust.

The Regent Theatre declared 'at risk' in Great Yarmouth

An 'at risk' listing for the Regent Theatre in Great Yarmouth is hoping to galvanise support to revive it. It is pictured here in February 2022. - Credit: Liz Coates

It says the building has potential and that new uses - including as a pub - should be explored to save it from "irreparable damage" .

And although it is in private hands the trust says it is looking to work with the council, its owner, and other stake holders who, with the right support, could revive its fortunes.

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The former ABC/Regent Theatre in Regent Road pictured in 1974. It is being included in a new heritage trail looking at buildings and their various uses over the years. - Credit: GYBC

The Regent was designed for both cinema and theatre and opened on Boxing Day 1914 with a capacity of 1,679 and four dressing rooms.

It was taken over by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) in 1929 and remained in cinema use until the 1980s when it was converted to a bingo hall.

In 2014 it reopened as Stars nightclub, but closed after a few years.

It is described on the trust's website as "a magnificent surviving example of its type".

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A frieze of artificial stone depicts images of comedy, tragedy, owls, baskets of fruit, lyres and other theatrical objects.

The new Stars venue on Regent Road, Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass

The Regent Theatre enjoyed a brief resurgence as Stars nightclub in the 2010s. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

The original plan included a tearoom to the left of the main entrance with ornately plastered ceiling and timber panelling; and a crush room (foyer) to the right, now an amusement arcade.

The "splendid" auditorium is said to be "remarkably intact" with alterations for bingo use in the 1980s made sensitively without compromising the possibility of future theatre use.

While stalls seating has been removed the architectural features remain, including original decorative plasterwork adorning walls, ceiling, balcony and box fronts. 

It has been empty since the bar and nightclub closed in 2016 and is Grade II-listed.

Land registry documents show it changed hands for £215,000 on April 4, 2016 and is now owned by two London-based trustees on behalf of Mount  Zion Ministries.

Tom Clarke of the Theatres Trust said it was unlikely it could return to full theatre use but could appeal to a pub operator willing to do a sensitive conversion.

The Regent is one of 41 theatres across the country in danger of being lost.

Economic development committee chairman Graham Plant said: “The Regent Theatre is privately owned, but we are aware of the situation and the council is monitoring the building’s condition.

“We know that together with other Edwardian seaside buildings it is an important part of our heritage, and we are working with property owners and our partners to develop a seafront master plan which will include how we can support this collection of important buildings and the cultural heritage they represent.”

Visit the Theatres at Risk website for advice on how to get involved.