A 19TH century Corn Exchange – reputed to be the second largest in Scotland – is tipped to become a live music venue attracting major headline acts.
Haddington Corn Exchange is set to mark its 160th year under a new guise as a 900-capacity concert hall.
After an overhaul of the acoustics, lighting and a new PA system, the venue will re-launch on Friday with an inaugural performance from popular ska band Bombskare.
An option to seal off areas within the venue to cater to smaller events is also available
The entry of a new concert space into the Lothians’ cultural landscape has been supported by former Marillion frontman Fish – who lives locally – and ex-Simple Minds manager Bruce Findlay.
It comes weeks after ambitious plans to build a world-class concert arena on the outskirts of Edinburgh were shelved amid fears the project would face a funding shortfall of up to £100 million.
Industry experts have long lamented the Capital’s lack of suitable venues for major international acts – such as Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Prince and Fleetwood Mac – many of whom choose to perform their Scottish tour dates in one of Glasgow’s four stand-out arenas.
Earlier this month, the Haddington Community Development Trust signed a deal with East Lothian Council to run the Corn Exchange for 12 years.
The trust is working alongside Haddington-based music school Lamp House Music to deliver Friday’s relaunch concert.
Trust treasurer Martin Hayman said: “As soon as we signed the lease we began the work, which will be finished on Tuesday in time for the first concert. What we’re wanting to do is very much promote the Corn Exchange as an attraction for live music and performances. We hope that over time we will attract more acts. We have had the Proclaimers in the past, and Fish is playing again in August.
“I certainly expect that over the next year or two that we will host quite a range of acts.”
And Mr Hayman revealed plans for a “much more significant” refurbishment including plans to open the venue for community theatre and cinema.
Currently, the Corn Exchange is booked for badminton and table tennis sessions. It has long been the centre of East Lothian’s election count.
Callum Maguire of Lamp House Music said: “There is a rich and vast Scottish music scene which, sadly, has not included East Lothian on the gig circuit for many years and yet East Lothian people are desperate to see good quality bands playing in their local communities. Lamp House Music want to bring that fantastic music into East Lothian
Former Simple Minds manager Bruce Findlay also welcomed the project. He said: “It helps this side of the country. It’s not far away from Edinburgh, and it will be really good for Haddington and the surrounding area.”