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Tue May 11 2021

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Willmott Dixon refurbs Bolton theatre

11 Jul 17 The Octagon Theatre in Bolton, built in the 1960s, is getting a 21st Century makeover from Willmott Dixon in an £8.5m expansion and modernisation project.

CGI of Bolton's revamped Octagon Theatre
CGI of Bolton's revamped Octagon Theatre

The project will improve accessibility with the building and provide more space for the theatre’s projects, both on and off-stage. It will involve demolishing large sections and rebuilding around the core of the theatre’s auditorium.

The scope also includes refurbishing the existing theatre, studio, foyer, back of house and administration areas and creating two multi-purpose studio spaces for rehearsals, participation activities and performances.  The project will also provide improved audience comfort with air conditioning and new seats.

The £8.5m contract was procured through Scape Group’s major works framework.

Willmott Dixon is working with architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and project manager Gardiner & Theobald.

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Elizabeth Newman, artistic director of the theatre, said, “The artistic and social benefits to Bolton for the project will be incredible, as it will enable the theatre to expand its community and artistic provision and therefore our reach in the coming years. The aim of reimagining our building is to ensure accessibility to all including audiences, participants and artists.”

The contract follows Willmott Dixon’s redevelopment of Bolton Albert Halls, a Grade two listed building which formed part of a wider town centre master plan to encourage more visitors and investment into the town centre.  The company is also on site nearby building Horwich Leisure Centre, also for Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council.

Refurbishing civic buildings has been a rich seam for Willmott Dixon lately. The company is working at Darlington Civic Centre, Plymouth’s History Centre and the east wing at Alexandra Palace.  In June, it was also chosen to refurbish the Old Admiralty building to create a new head office for the Department of Education.  And last year the company helped to bring the former Commonwealth Institute in Kensington back to life as the Design Museum.

Anthony Dillon, managing director of Willmott Dixon in the north, said: “We are delighted to be back in Bolton as part of the team that will restore such a cultural landmark. Redeveloping buildings to create a lasting benefit for communities is a specialism we are proud of at Willmott Dixon.”

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