Inside Morecambe's iconic Winter Gardens

The Grade II* listed building has had to remain closed throughout the lockdown, losing income from visitors, but the trust remains positive for the future

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report by Rachel Howarth,

Senior reporter, Lancs.live

The team behind one of Morecambe’s most iconic buildings is staying positive about the building’s future, despite taking a financial knock during the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, chair of the Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust, has said that plans are in place to help reopen the building as soon as it is safe to do so to help recuperate some of the losses faced from a lack of visitors.

The building had not yet opened its doors to the public this year when the UK Government put in place strict regulations to prevent the spread of coronavirus as the season only officially begins in April.

With running costs of around £3,000 per month before the doors are even open, Prof Toulmin said that the trust has taken a blow as the building is now bringing in no income.

The exterior of the Winter Gardens in Morecambe

However the chair remains positive for a bright future for the beloved venue, with proposals to reopen with social distancing measures so that visitors can come once again and grant applications in the pipeline to secure financial support.
“At the moment the Winter Gardens has lost its entire income,” she said. “There are running costs of £3,000 a month before we open the doors.

“Over the last three months we have been making sure that the work planned will still go ahead.
“In the past year we have had a complete governance review and brought in a new set of trustees.
“We are also putting a financial plan in place to make sure that the Winter Gardens is safe, we are putting in for grants and funding.”

In the coming weeks, the organisation will launch a crowdfunding campaign to help make up some of the money lost through lack of income.

Plans are also being put in place to ensure safety for guests returning when lockdown is eased once more.
“The good thing is that the venue is huge,” added Prof Toulmin. “We could get 300 people in there with social distancing.

“I am looking at ways we could run tours with household groups to ensure social distancing when we reopen.”

The Winter Gardens building is currently closed to visitors

At the moment, the tours only include downstairs – but work is expected to continue in November on replastering and renovating the first floor of the building.

The trust has already received a £123,000 grant from Historic England to perform essential repairs to the building – which were completed ahead of the planned opening in March.

On top of this, a community interest loan of £100,000 from Lancaster City Council has ensured that the trust can organise a new mortgage with better rates to make the operation more economical.

“I am very optimistic for the future of the Winter Gardens,” added Prof Toulmin. “There is a great love for it in Morecambe.
“It is one of the most important buildings in the UK.

“We have some amazing volunteers working on it and the ‘friends’ are doing a great job of raising the profile of it.

“It has been a difficult five weeks but we have some great trustees and the future is looking positive.

“Lancaster City Council and Historic England have been very supportive.

“The good thing is that anything raised goes directly into the running and preservation of the building, it doesn’t go anywhere else.”

One of the areas needing work is behind the bay window

The crowd-funding appeal is set to be launched in the coming weeks.

Details will be released on the LancsLive website.

One of the items found during restoration work

Some more items found while work was being carried out

Behind the safety curtain in the Winter Gardens

Work is planned to restore the ceiling starting in November

The trust is securing funding so that vital restoration work can take place later this year

CONTACT US
MORECAMBE WINTER GARDENS
209 MARINE ROAD
MORECAMBE
LA4 4BU
01524 409009
2020 MORECAMBE WINTER GARDENS

All rights reserved.
Morecambe Winter Gardens and Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust Limited is a registered charity no. 1113010

Friends of Morecambe Winter Gardens is a registered charity no. 1064127