BaR News Roundup - May 2022
April's update of our register entries in the North West and Merseyside has revealed a clutch of promising new possibilites for a range of buildings as well as some which are now back in active use. Here we summarise a few of these positive stories.
Seaforth Arms, Seaforth Road, Sefton, Merseyside
The Seaforth Arms, a splendid piece of Edwardian Baroque architecture in Sefton, featured during the month as one of our weekly #wonderwallwednesday buildings. On our register since 2016 and after years of waiting for a new lease of life, in response to our post, we were alerted to the fact that it is now open again and serving customers. The building clearly has great character architecturally but the lively recollections our post prompted of the life of this public house demonstrate the human history of this much-loved landmark.
Grand Casino, Southport, Merseyside
This long empty and disused building with a fascinating past now appears to have a more optimistic future. Originally built in 1923 by Richard Woodhead as a car showroom, it was converted by George E. Tonge into a luxury cinema in 1938 until it closed around 1966. Later, it was used as a bingo hall and finally a casino.
Its symmetrical front is built in faience and the lettering for “GRAND” still remains on the central stepped parapet. The central three bays are flanked either side by symmetrical bays each divided by panelled pilasters. All the openings at the second floor retain stained glass of Disney characters on all their upper lights.
Despite it is current poor condition, many interesting features still remain, partly thanks to the sensible transformation of the building overtime. This is the case for the dramatic auditorium, with stadium layout and a small stage. The original raised seating still remains over the rear of the stadium. And over it there is the original decorated circular ceiling from 1938, with a dominant saucer dome which supports a central pendant for a light fitting.
Other remarkable Art Deco features can be found in the broad entrance foyer; lighting coves, fluted columns and a torchere. In the central axis, a flight of wide stairs with chromium balustrades ascends to the stalls access. From this landing the stairs branch into a narrower left and right side flights.
We now understand that the building is set to be brought back to its former glory by The Mikhail Hotel and Leisure Group, who intend on turning the building into a sky bar, hotel and wedding venue. If executed sensitively, this could create a wonderful venue full of character.
51-53 Bolton Street, Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester
A former Building of the Month, this former Co-Op building has hidden interest behind its decorative but otherwise unrevealing facade. Its upper two floors house a theatre which once echoed to the refrains of the music hall. In 2020 there was an application to redevelop the interior, removing the rare remains of the fittings including cast iron columns supporting a gallery. A Building Preservation Order was placed on the building and it was listed grade II in 2021. It is also on the Theatres Trust Risk Register and now the Ramsbottom Co-Op Hall Heritage Trust, with help from various quarters, aims to restore it to use as a working venue, entertaining the town and its visitors. Read more about their project here.
In May, our update project moves on to Yorkshire and we welcome all updates, recent photos and new nominations for buildings to be included on the register. We are extremely grateful to all our supporters who continue to contribute to our work by sending in information about buildings at risk.