Well if not the Church per se could a church be part of the turning point for London’s Road’s fortunes. The Emporium is a church converted into a theatre café at the forefront of the regeneration of this long-suffering street.
The newly opened venue is a 120 seat warehouse-style theatre with a café/bar housed in the enormous space of a deconsecrated Methodist church which has been empty for seven years. Emporium’s mission is to provide a performance venue for regional rep and workshops and classes as well as rehearsal space.
Its café/bar is a true original with a mixture of giant sofas and table seating amidst a quirky backdrop of stage props all within the grandeur of a 100 year old church.
It is poised to enjoy the benefits of the regeneration of the wider area which will receive hundreds of millions of pounds of investment over the next five years. The Open Market development, plans for a Digital Hub at New England House, the Co-Op halls of residence and the construction of a new City College in Pelham Street are just four of the major schemes in the pipeline.
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Emporium is very reminiscent of the Tin Drum in St James’s Street; not in its appearance or purpose but rather in the timing of its investment. When Dave Radtke opened the first Tin Drum at the top of what was then a very down-at-heel street his decision was widely viewed as a big gamble but it led the way for the regeneration of the area.
The Emporium's artistic director James Weisz and venue manager Gary Blair are ahead of the curve and definitely in the vanguard of the regeneration of London Road. Let’s hope that where they lead, more will follow. They deserve every success and having visited last night to see the excellent Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock the Executive Director of the Economic Partnership can definitely recommend it.
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Emporium. London Road