Work on the £1.4million restoration project began in August and is progressing well, with completion on track for this spring.
The decayed concrete façade of the theatre has been removed, leaving the main structural columns exposed and the next step is to repair these. A weather-proof internal wall has been built in the foyer to act as a temporary wall, ensuring the theatre continues to operate as usual.
Further work involves:
- installing double glazing to replace the existing single glazing, to improve the comfort of the building
- replacing all concrete panelling at first and upper floor level
- re-instating slate cladding on the main supporting columns to restore them to the original design
- protecting the concrete in supporting columns and roof
- cleaning of concrete features on the upper and side elevations
- repairing cladding and glazing on the east elevation
Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, Councillor David Tutt, said: “The Congress Theatre is well on the way to being returned to its former glory and I’m delighted the project will be finished this spring. The work being carried out will ensure the façade has a long life with minimal maintenance and the building will be far more energy efficient thanks to the improvements being made.”
Leader of the Opposition, Councillor David Elkin, said: “It’s great to finally see the Congress finally emerging from the scaffolding and be restored to a level and quality far beyond its original construction. This is however only the very first stage of the exciting total redevelopment of the Devonshire Park complex.”
Project managers Faithful+Gould are working with English Heritage to ensure that significant repairs needed to the façade are in keeping with the original 1963 style.
Richard Stocking, Faithful+Gould’s Principle Conservation Surveyor and Lead Consultant, said: “This is a very exciting project and the work is at the forefront of concrete conservation. English Heritage officials have visited the site and are really pleased with our approach.”
A scale model showing how part of the restored Congress Theatre facade will look once the project is complete is now on display in the the scaffolding area opposite the theatre entrance.