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Liverpool’s Royal Court plans to buy Penny Farthing pub

Liverpool’s Royal Court theatre is planning to purchase the neighbouring Penny Farthing public house as it continues its transformation.

The venue is looking to secure a £1.2 million capital contribution from Liverpool City Council to progress with the acquisition, which would enable a short-term pre and post show bar and restaurant to be created.

Additional facilities for the Royal Court’s youth theatre and community choir as well as wardrobe and technical areas would also feature in the building if the plan goes ahead.

The required contribution by Liverpool City Council will be discussed at this Friday’s (22 April) mayoral cabinet meeting.

If agreed, the contribution will take the form of a loan which will be paid back to the local authority as a part of a restructured lease with a revised, increased rental payment following the surrender of the existing lease.

In the short term, the new facilities would be created within the pub building. Then medium to long term plans for the Penny Farthing  would see the theatre continue to work with Stirling Prize winning architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) to explore refurbishment and remodelling options such as integrating the two buildings.

The Royal Court, which has already spent more than £4m on the first two phases of its renovation including an existing £2m loan from the council, is due to begin ‘Act 3’ of the project in 2017. The required £2m for the phase is almost in place with The Royal Court Liverpool Trust having been granted a first round pass to access support from Arts Council England’s Large Capital Grant scheme.

According to the Royal Court, the Penny Farthing purchase would be a more cost effective way of improving backstage facilities than building a ‘pod’ on the side of the theatre.

Gillian Miller, chief executive of The Royal Court Liverpool Trust and chair of the St George’s Quarter CIC, says:  “The purchase of the Penny Farthing will help our youth theatre and community choir as well as improving the visitor experience of everybody who comes to the theatre and to St George’s Quarter. If we are able to purchase it, we are committed to investing in the building and soon it will look as good as the newly refurbished Royal Court.”

Kevin Fearon, executive producer of Liverpool’s Royal Court, adds: “The plans for Act 3 of our refurbishment include developing our basement bar into a new performance space, leaving our youth theatre and choir with nowhere to meet. The Penny Farthing can provide this important space for us.

“The theatre is growing and the whole area is improving and we are delighted that the council is discussing this loan.”