Securing the future of Blackpool's Grand Theatre

Johnny Casson
Johnny Casson
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The volunteer group central to saving Blackpool’s Grand Theatre in the 1970s is calling for new members to help further its work in the future.

The Friends Of The Grand were formed in 1973 to save the building from demolition - and instantly got hands on, painting dressing rooms, repairing holes in the ceiling and getting the theatre back into shape.

Sir Ken Dodd

Sir Ken Dodd

In 1975, the Grand was due to be changed into a bingo hall, but the friends, together with EMI and the local council put together a deal involving leasing the theatre for £10,000 per annum and final purchase for £250,000.

Today, 45 years later, there’s more than 1,700 members of the friends group supporting the famous Frank Matcham theatre.

But they’re in need of people to join the committee.

Among the original and early Friends were Coronation Street’s Ena Sharples actress Violet Carson, Lesley Crowther, Johnnie Casson and Sir Ken Dodd.

Patrons of the charity as it stands today include Steven Tompkinson and Grand panto favourite Steve Royle.

The friends have helped fund projects such as new carpets, seating and technical equipment, as well as supporting the 2015 capital project of new offices, performances spaces, dressing rooms and more - in addition to funding the purchase of shops returning the building to its original footprint.

“The friends are a passionate group of theatre-lovers who, over the years, have raised well over £1m and volunteered over 13,000 hours a year to help the theatre operate,” a spokesman for the theatre said.

The group usually meets monthly and members are also asked to help organise fundraising activities.

All prospective committee members must be members of the friends and should be nominated and seconded by two other members.

Applications can be made online at, or forms can be collected at the Grand Theatre box office and sent to Friends of The Grand, Blackpool Grand Theatre, 33 Church Street, Blackpool FY1 1HT.

Deadline for receiving applications is Friday.