18 January 2023

One of the most important and complex heritage restoration projects ever undertaken in the city is nearing completion.

The ambitious project to restore Brighton Dome’s Grade I listed Corn Exchange and Grade II Studio Theatre, and create exciting new spaces for artists and audiences, will see these unique and historic buildings protected and preserved for future generations.

Partnership working 

 

The project, a partnership between Brighton & Hove City Council, Brighton & Hove Museums and Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, has been supported by both the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) Heritage Capital Kickstart Fund and the Arts Council England’s (ACE) Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund. 

Additional contributions have come from Brighton & Hove City Council and Coast to Capital Enterprise Partnership. 

 

Heritage features

 

The Corn Exchange, once a royal riding house, has been stripped back to reveal its original heritage features, including the widest span timber frame in the country and the distinctive ornate windows. 

The Studio Theatre, originally designed in 1935 by renowned architect Robert Atkinson, has also been re-modelled and its unique architectural features carefully cleaned and returned to their former glory. 

 

16,000 Welsh slate tiles

 

Restoration work at the Corn Exchange has included: 

  • installing steel tie-rods to strengthen the 200-year-old timber frame to help keep it standing for another 200 years 
  • restoration of the Art Deco statue depicting Ceres, the Roman Goddess of Agriculture above the entrance on Church Street  
  • stripping paint from the internal roof structure, revealing and restoring the beautiful heritage features  
  • fitting 500 linear meters of solid oak cladding on the walls  
  • replacing 16,000 Welsh slate tiles (weighing 55 tonnes) on the roof, to protect the building from weather damage
At the Studio Theatre: 
  • the decorative plaster ceiling has been renovated 
  • a replacement copper roof installed  
  • the exterior stonework and windows have been painstakingly restored
 
The project has also included the creation of: 
  • a ground floor restaurant opening on to New Road 
  • a magnificent new Corn Exchange viewing gallery, bar and audience circulation space 
  • new seating in both theatres and more efficient infrastructure 
  • a dedicated creation space for artists

Work is now moving towards completion and plans are being developed for the unveiling of the restored buildings later this year.  

 

Huge and complex 

 

Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said: "As part of the world-famous Royal Pavilion Estate, the Dome, Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre are at the heart of the city’s heritage, attracting thousands of visitors every year. 

“Restoring these unique buildings has been a huge and complex undertaking and we are grateful for funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Heritage Capital Kickstart Fund and the Arts Council England’s Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund which has helped to make this possible. 

“We look forward to opening the doors later this year, and unveiling this fantastic restoration project to our residents, visitors, artists and performers.”  

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