Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Matlock Bath Grand Pavilion

For some time now, this blog has carried links to the sites of  campaigns connected to Matlock Bath Grand Pavilion, a purpose-built theatre dating from 1910.

The lower part of this building is occupied by the Peak District Mining Museum and some council offices. For a time (1993 - 2008), the upper part was used as a night club and I understand that the proprietors did little towards the upkeep of that part of the building.

Following the closure of the night club, the upper part of the building stood empty for a while and it would seem the owners, one of the local authorities, did no preventive maintenance but only responded to situations as they arose.

Eventually, a group of local people formed Save the Grand Pavilion, a campaign which I assume is self-explanatory. Admirable though that was, it was just the start as STGP evolved into The Grand Pavilion Limited, which acquired the lease on the building and then became a registered charity.

Following on came the formation of a supporter`s group, Friends of the Grand Pavilion and I understand that approaches have been made to potential large donors such as the Lottery.

Having followed these events with interest, I was glad to have the chance to see inside the  building over the Bank Holiday when it was opened to host an art exhibition with live music.

The art exhibition featured a range of styles, with the best known artist being Pollyanna Pickering, one of the Patrons of the charity, though I personally preferred Caroline Appleyard`s colourful evocations of Matlock and Whitby. There may be a touch of bias on my part as these are two places I visit frequently and which are very close to my heart. However, the quirky good  humour of her work is very appealing.

There was also much innocent amusement to be derived from the examples of "artist speak" in the accompanying brochure. Funnily enough I`ve never really thought in terms of "dystrophic brutalism" myself !

An unexpected bonus came in the form of live music from youthful folk musicians The Harker Sisters. As you might imagine, these are three sisters whose surname is Harker. They look terrifyingly young, but perhaps that`s because I am not so young ! As I`ve mentioned before, I am not a huge folk fan by any means, but these tuneful siblings impressed me very much. The younger members of our party were also enthusiastic, so if the Harkers ever decide to play for an audience of under fives, they might well have that market cracked !

Back to more serious matters, and I have to say I was shocked to see how much needs to be done to get the Pavilion back into a serviceable condition. However, it`s clear  that the Pavilion`s supporters have determination by the bucket-load and don`t shrink from a challenge.

To learn more about the Pavilion and the campaign to restore it, use the links already provided at the side of this page, or visit the websites of the Theatre`s Trust (www.theatrestrust.org.uk) and/or the Matlock Mercury (www.matlockmercury.co.uk) .

I`d like to close with a quote from another of the Pavilion Group`s Patrons, Simon Groom, a TV presenter who, if you`re anything like me,  may be inextricably linked in your mind with sticky-backed plastic and old Palmolive bottles ;

"As a young son of a Derbyshire hill farmer, the Pavilion was a window to the world outside Dethick. It helped me to enter that world and shape it in some small way. Seeing the building re-open and begin to be used again gives me hope. I feel sure that the larger project, for it`s restoration and re-opening, will not be more than a few years away. With that completed, the window to the outside world will be re-opened and inspire others, as it did for me."

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