Hopes that Doncaster’s historic Grand Theatre can re-open have taken a major step forward after talks over a possible deal.
Discussions between the owners of the Victorian landmark and campaigners who want to turn it back into an entertainment venue have been held for the first time.
Friends of the Doncaster Grand Theatre group say it is a major step forward in the long running campaign to restore the venue to its former glory.
Friends chairman Margaret Herbert said: “Friends of the Doncaster Grand Theatre are now in negotiations with the owners of the theatre and hopefully we will be able to acquire the theatre.
“We are optimistic something can be sorted.
“But we need to put the money together to make them an offer.
“We are getting a lot of support from organisations including Doncaster Chamber of Commerce.
“But we have started talking to the owners for the first time. This is a major landmark. We have tried to arrange talks for a long time, and we’re finally there.”
The building is owned by an Irish consortium which also owns the Frenchgate Centre.
Now there are plans to hold talks with the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Last year, the then mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies complained the theatre owners would not speak to him on the subject of the Grand.
The Grand was originally built in 1899 and was Doncaster’s main theatre for decades, until it was turned into a bingo hall in the 1960s.
It was finally closed down in the 1990s and has been empty since. A long-running campaign has been running to try to save the building, with thousands of people signing a petition. Stars including comedy legend Charlie Chaplin trod the boards there.
Mrs Herbert is keen for people to get in touch who may be able to help with the efforts to acquire the building. She hopes to hear from business experts and potential investors who may be able to help with the finance.
The Friends of the Doncaster Grand Theatre charity want to operate the theatre as a venue for entertainments and a conference venue if it is able to re-open it.
It is due to discuss its progress at a meeting in Doncaster later this month.
Members will be meeting at Club 39 on College Road at 7.15pm on Wednesday May 29, and officials are calling on all members to attend.
n Call Margaret on 01302 881299 to get involved.