Church Hill gets £220k revamp for 50th anniversary

The Church Hill Theatre, Morningside. Picture: Dan Phillips
The Church Hill Theatre, Morningside. Picture: Dan Phillips
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THE show is set to go on at a renowned Capital theatre after the start of a major £220,000 revamp.

Church Hill Theatre in Morningside is being spruced up ahead of its 50th anniversary later this year, with substantial repair work carried out both inside and outside the building.

Full roof and external stonework restoration will be completed at the end of this month, while dressing rooms have been fully redecorated and new lighting and flooring installed.

Public areas, such as the foyer, toilets and external landscape, have also been improved, with picnic benches added to the front and north rear gardens to allow visitors to relax outside in the summer months.

The final phase of the revamp will be carried out in July with the repair and replacement of the auditorium seating – using chairs recycled from the Usher Hall.

The venue’s latest building work comes on the back of a substantial upgrade carried out in the theatre’s public areas in 2006.

General manager Shona Clelland said the building was a “historic landmark” with an “established reputation as one of Scotland’s leading 
non-professional theatres”.

She added: “We therefore felt that, as some essential maintenance work needed to be done, it was an ideal opportunity to give the building some proper attention rather than just doing the bare minimum.

“The building means a lot to the local community, and it’s fantastic to see it getting the makeover it deserves, ready for its 50th anniversary celebrations later this year.”

Owned by Edinburgh City Council, Church Hill Theatre is a sister venue to the Assembly Rooms and is managed by the same team.

The popular theatre is based in a B-listed former church building in Morningside Road, with the 353-capacity auditorium converted in the 1960s.

As well as being home to many of the city’s amateur companies, the Church Hill is a popular venue during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s culture leader, said: “Breathing new life into the Church Hill Theatre has long been a shared ambition for both the community and the council.

“The refurbishment is a big step forward for the theatre as it celebrates its 50th anniversary year and the works being carried out will improve the experience of both audience members and performers.

“By upcycling unused chairs and materials from other venues like the Usher Hall, the auditorium’s timeless theatrical look and feel will be retained.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com