As lockdown eases and life begins to return to normal in the city, one of Brighton & Hove’s most historic and well-loved buildings has reached a major restoration milestone.
Throughout the lockdown period, work has continued on an ambitious project to refurbish Brighton Dome’s Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre.
16,000 Welsh slate tiles
Over the past few weeks, scaffolding has been removed from the Corn Exchange facade on Church Street and along the front of the Studio Theatre on New Road, giving residents and visitors their first glimpse of the exterior renovation work, which has included restoring the stonework and replacing the roof with 16,000 Welsh slate tiles.
The large crane, which has dominated the estate skyline, will leave the site on May 5.
Heritage features restored
Inside the building, work continues, with many of the original interior heritage features being restored.
They include 6,500 linear metres of oak cladding installed along the length of the Corn Exchange walls and roof arches, and 34 oak pilaster columns recreated from archive drawings to match how the building would have looked over 200 years ago.
Work also continues on further internal improvements to benefit visitors and audiences including:
- major improvements to the Studio Theatre
- creation of a magnificent new Corn Exchange viewing gallery and audience circulation space
- transformation of the Corn Exchange with new seating and more efficient infrastructure
- the installation of new lifts and a dry air-cooling system for maintaining temperature control in the venue.
Welcoming audiences back
Next door, the historic Brighton Dome Concert Hall will welcome audiences back following its closure during lockdown for Brighton Festival’s programme of indoor performances.
Starting on 17 May, in line with the government’s roadmap, socially distanced indoor events will resume with a classical lunchtime by violinist Roberto Ruisi and pianist Ljubica Stojanovic.
Visitors can also enjoy visiting Café Domenica in Brighton Dome’s Foyer, which is due to re-open on 18 May.
The Corn Exchange restoration work marks Phase 1 of the Royal Pavilion Estate project, a partnership between Brighton & Hove City Council, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust.
The project aims to reaffirm Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate as a key cultural destination by equipping it for a sustainable future and creating a centre for heritage, culture and the performing arts which reflects the unique spirit of Brighton & Hove.
In 2016, the project was awarded a £4,823 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF.)
Earlier this year the NLHF allocated the project a further £1 million from its Heritage Capital Kickstart Fund (part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Culture Recovery Fund package).
In December the project was also awarded £458,920 from Arts Council England’s (ACE) Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund.