The reopening of a theatre in Colne is being delayed and shows are being reschedule after contractors found something "unsafe" during an inspection.

The Muni Theatre is undergoing a £1.5 million refurbishment, as part of the Government’s levelling up fund, including new roofing and windows, along with new heating and lighting to improve energy efficiency that will deliver reduced carbon emissions.

The works being carried out need to be extended into the new year. This is because contactors found that plaster on the auditorium ceiling was not secure.

The theatre is now set to open in April,

Shows at the theatre have been put on hold while the theatre “reschedules as many shows as possible”.

Refunds will be issued for any shows that cannot be rescheduled.

Pendle Leisure Trust, which manages the theatre, says the planned pantomime of Jack and The Beanstalk, set to air in January, will still go ahead at the Pendle Hippodrome Theatre.

Alison Goode, chief executive of Pendle Leisure Trust, said: “As part of the levelling up fund, The Muni Theatre is currently undergoing major renovations making the building fit for purpose for future generations.

“During the latest routine inspection by Boys, the contractors, it was identified that the ornate plaster on the auditorium ceiling was no longer secure and would need further work so a new scheme of works has now been programmed in.

“This essential work has therefore impacted the initial opening date and we’re now expecting to open in April 2024.

“Although we're sad that the Muni won’t be open as initially planned, we’re very pleased that thanks to The Hippodrome Theatre, the second of the three theatres in Colne that are benefitting from the Levelling Up fund, we’re able to offer our annual pantomime a temporary home for 2024, meaning Jack and the Beanstalk will open, as planned!”

Boys, the construction company currently working on The Muni, said: “For a building that is more than 100 years old, The Muni has seen many milestones and to make sure it sees many more, we’ve been having regular inspections of the building, including the plaster on the ornate ceiling in the auditorium.

“Unfortunately, it became apparent on the latest inspection that the plaster has cracked in certain areas and is therefore unsafe.

"We’ve since worked tirelessly with plaster professionals who had identified a new programme which has unfortunately impacted the proposed handover day.

“But with these much-needed repairs, The Muni will see many more milestones in the future.”

Yvette Saunders, The Muni Theatre manager will be contacting the production companies in due course to reschedule as many of the shows as possible and all tickets already purchased will be honoured for the new dates. 

Any dates that cannot be rescheduled will have their tickets automatically refunded so there is no need to contact the box office.

Holders of tickets for the pantomime will be contacted shortly with their updated seat numbers, and we’ll be honouring their original bookings as close as possible.

Alison said: “As soon as we became aware that our beloved venue wouldn’t be ready in time for our annual pantomime, we knew we needed to find a way to make sure the children of Pendle and further afield wouldn’t miss out.

“With more than 5,000 children attending each year, our panto is the new year’s highlight for many of our local schools, not to mention a family tradition across the district, which is why we’re so pleased that

“The Pendle Hippodrome kindly accepted our request to host the forthcoming pantomime at their venue.”

Kevin Mason, chair of the Pendle Hippodrome said: “When we were approached by Alison from The Muni, it was quickly agreed by the board that it was the least we could do after their invaluable help with securing our funding as part of the levelling up fund in Colne.

“As part of the heritage quarter and after securing our £1.66m refurbishment, being able to repay the favour and keep the magic of pantomime alive is a great achievement for us all.”