Fire damaged garrison gym to ‘rise from ashes’ after two year project
- Credit: Archant
A historic military building in Essex is set to “rise from the ashes” as a new gym after undergoing a major refurbishment following a fire.
Colchester Borough Council said it was “delighted” to announce the restoration project to rebuild the town’s former Garrison Gym, a 19th century building in Circular Road South.
The building, which is on the council’s list of protected historic buildings, was severely damaged by a fire in 2013.
It came during a spate of fires at historic buildings, which also damaged a former Grade II listed garrison building in Roman Circus Walk.
Since 2016 the council has been working with partners to carry out extensive works to restore the venue – including new flooring, heating, lighting and installing state of the art solar panels – to bring it back into use
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Following an Expression of Interest process, the council is currently negotiating a temporary two-year lease with the Mercury Theatre, which plans to use the building while work is carried out to transform its own venue at Balkerne Gate. It is part of the £8.7m Mercury Rising extension and refurbishment of the theatre
The Mercury Theatre aims to make use of the building for rehearsal space and community programmes.
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The process to find a permanent future tenant for the building will commence over the next 18 months, providing time for interested groups to consider plans, partnership collaborations and funding requirements needed to sustain this unique building.
An open afternoon planned in the next few months will allow residents to view the newly renovated building, which will be available to hire later in the year around the Mercury’s rehearsal and community programme.
Tina Bourne, portfolio holder for communities and housing at Colchester Borough Council, said: “This building doesn’t just have a big part in the area’s history, but thanks to our work to bring it back into use it has a big role in its future too.
“I am delighted that we are nearing the end of what has been a long and complicated project and I’m excited about the long term potential this amazing building has for the local community.”
The gym is thought to have been built around 1860 and was handed over to the borough council in 2010.