A TRUST organisation has just received a grant of £16,500 to help refurbish a disused theatre in Ramsbottom.

Ramsbottom Co-op Hall Heritage Trust, formed earlier this year, applied for the grant in late April and now hopes to turn the building into a popular venue.

The hall was built in 1876 when the Ramsbottom Industrial and Provident Society built a three-storey extension alongside its existing 1863 building on Bolton Street.

In the 1920s it was used by travelling theatre groups and players, and ran promotional films and smoking concerts in the 1930s.

During the Second World War, it was used as an army training centre and had the seating removed, and was taken over by the Labour Exchange in 1944, remaining unused since.

The Theatres Trust added it to their Theatres at Risk list this year, but Stephen Marlay, chairman of the Ramsbottom Co-op Hall Heritage Trust, is hopeful it can be refurbished and put to use by 2026.

Stephen said: “The grant is an incredible opportunity to make the hall into the kind of hub for the people of Ramsbottom that it used to be.

“This project seeks to return the building to its original purpose as a community asset.”

Six years previously, Stephen had hoped to buy the building from the current owner and turn it into a live music bar, but soon realised this would be too expensive and that the hall had potential to be something more, and could be used for big music events as well as weddings.

Before being able to buy the building, Stephen hopes to prove it is viable, by using the £16,500 grant to replace walls and windows and fix structural timbers.

The first floor will likely be restored for welfare facilities and flexible spaces to support the second floor, while the second floor will be restored into a first class performance space.