The Grade II listed theatre where Ant and Dec made their stage débuts is set to become Blyth’s newest pub – creating 40 jobs.
A 1,441 capacity cinema and playhouse, The Wallaw, on the town’s Union Street, was built in 1937 and closed in 2004 – with the Gerodie duo trading the boards in the 1980s.
But on Tuesday December 10 it will return – after a £2.1m conversion by JD Wetherspoon.
“The renovation was lot bigger than they thought it would be,” said manager Phil Riddle, “everything’s been stripped right back to the brickwork and re-built using the materials needed.”
“All of the decoration has been re-done to the listed standard, and we’ve re-used many original features, such as the statue light fittings on the way to the ladies’ toilets.”
Ten managers and team leaders have moved to the new pub from other Wetherspoon outlets in the area, with firm creating 40 jobs – 38 for people living in Blyth itself.
“Myself and my team are looking forward to welcoming customers into the pub and we are confident that it will be a great addition to Blyth’s community,” said Phil, who previously ran the firm’s Fire Station pub, in Whitley Bay.
He hopes that the new pub will attract families and diners, and although the pub isn’t expecting a massive night-time drive, Phil is optimistic that the pub will encourage locals to come out earlier and start their night with a meal.
And his optimism doesn’t stop there – he’s set his sights on being selected for CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide by 2016.
“There should always be a decent choice of ales for everyone, with the three regular beers, two ever-changing national guests, and two locally-sourced guest ales.”
The Wallaw’s Grade-II listed, art-deco building has been described as “the best surviving work of the firm Percy Lindsay Browne”, who designed many cinemas in the North East.
That heritage is being celebrated in the new pub with the original main projector from the cinema taking centre stage in the entrance, alongside a 3D artwork, made of film reels found on the site.
Photos, local history, artwork and information boards relating to the history and characters of the area will also be displayed around the pub.