ANOTHER of Swansea’s landmark buildings could be revitalised and brought back into use as a music venue.
The new owners of the Albert Hall want to create a venue for 900 music fans and introduce office space, flats and a rooftop bar.
Mr Simon Baston, Director of LoftCo said: “I’m thrilled to acquire the Albert Hall from its private owners – and I look forward to making it a location which the people of Swansea can enjoy and be proud of.
“It has a wonderful heritage and now has an exciting future.”
Albert Hall opened in 1864 as a public assembly and concert venue known as The Music Hall, Swansea, with a 2,500 capacity.
It became the Albert Hall in 1882, and over the years it has hosted performances and speeches from Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, David Lloyd George and opera singer Adelina Patti.
The venue – on the corner of De-La Beche Street and Cradock Street – became a silent movie cinema in 1922, switching to talkies in 1929.
It is said that a 14-year-old Ernie Wise met a 13-year-old Eric Bartholomew there, helping to initiate comedy partnership Morecambe and Wise.
The £7 million proposal is being put forward by Simon Baston, director of LoftCo – the company behind The Tramshed in Cardiff and the J-Shed in Swansea, among others.
If the scheme gets taken forward, the doors of the 156-year-old building would open again for the first time since 2007, when it was a bingo hall.
It is still early days – LoftCo has only just acquired the grade two-listed building and planning permission would be needed, but the existing architectural profile will be maintained.
It follows separate plans by Swansea Council to bring High Street’s Palace Theatre back into use.
Swansea Council has been working with LoftCo on its proposals, including providing a loan through the Welsh Government-backed town centre loan scheme.
Council leader Rob Stewart said he was excited about LoftCo’s proposals.
“This acquisition and proposed redevelopment demonstrates that – despite the coronavirus crisis – there’s still confidence in Swansea city centre and a need for modern, flexible, living and working space here,” he said.
Earlier this year the council bought the Palace Theatre with a view to creating office space for creative industries and start-ups. A design team has been appointed to lead the £5 million project.
Cinema & Co owner Anna Redfern, who used to manage the much-loved Monkey bar, said it would be great to see the Albert Hall back in action.
“I think it would be really nice to see it restored to its former glory,” she said.
“It’s been quite disheartening to see it falling apart. It used to be an entertainment hub in its heyday.
“For someone to breathe new life into it would be really beneficial for the city.”