Scaffolding to come down on £1.4m Congress renovation

Work going on outside the theatre last month
Work going on outside the theatre last month
  • Restoration work almost complete on theatre’s facade
  • Eight-month project at Grade II Listed building
  • ‘Once again the jewel in the crown of our theatreland’

Scaffolding at the front of the restored Congress Theatre will begin to be taken down next month.

Final works on this important theatre are now being carried out as the £1.4million project on the grade II listed building nears completion.

The iconic 1960s façade is regarded as one of the best in the country and it has been meticulously restored over the last eight months.

The council hopes the restoration will ensure minimal maintenance in the future and provide enhancements to the building’s energy efficiency, reducing heating bills.

Councillor David Tutt, leader of the council, said, “It is wonderful that the Congress Theatre is being returned to its former glory along with improvements to the way the building operates.

“This is the initial part of our exciting plans for Devonshire Park which will see the area transformed into a vibrant cultural destination.”

Councillor David Elkin, leader of the opposition, said, “The unveiling of the completely restored front elevation of the Congress will be like a breath of fresh air to the theatre quarter of Eastbourne.

“It will once again be the jewel in the crown of our theatreland.”

After a section of concrete fell from the front of the Congress Theatre, scaffolding was put up by Eastbourne Borough Council. Detailed investigations showed that the original metal reinforcement in the façade was corroding from the inside and this had led to serious degradation of the concrete and the eventual structural failure.

English Heritage was closely involved in the design of the restoration work to ensure the significant repairs were in keeping with the original 1963 style.

Even though the work involved removing virtually the whole façade, the construction of an internal wall in the foyer ensured the theatre continued to operate as usual with no cancellation of any shows. Heritage consultancy specialists Faithful+Gould project managed the intricate work which began in August 2014.

Richard Stocking, principal conservation surveyor and lead consultant at Faithful+Gould, said, “It is thrilling to see the realisation of our meticulous planning and painstaking attention to detail and we are to date extremely satisfied with the results. It has been a pleasure working on this prestigious project,”