Iconic Mr Smith’s nightclub set to be saved from bulldozers


THE iconic Mr Smith’s nightclub looks set to be saved from the bulldozers and transformed into a Youth Zone – and a new home for Warrington Youth Club – if Warrington Borough Council approves a £3 million capital investment to help renovate the building and get the facility up an running.
The building is in the process of being purchased by a private investor for around £1 million, who will then donate the building back to the community on a 125 year lease deal, involving a peppercorn rent, as a new home for the Youth Club, which will move from its existing base at the Peace Centre.
The future of the building will be discussed next week (Oct 13) at Warrington Borough Council’s Executive Board and will require the £3 million capital investment from the council. A total of £750,000 has already been pledged in additional support from the private sector.
In a report to the Executive board prepared by Chief Executive Steven Broomhead and Steve Reddy, Executive Director, Families and Wellbeing, it states the council has been approached by Onside Youth Zones to work in partnership with the youth club and members of the local business community to create a youth zone within the former nightclub.
Onside Youth Zones are modelled on the successful Bolton Lads and Girls Club, with five Youth Zones already thriving in the North West.
The other Youth Zones in Blackburn, Carlisle, Manchester, Oldham and Wigan, have each gone on to generate £500k of private sector funding each year since opening. Warrington is part of a plan to create 20 Youth Zones nationally by 2020.
It is anticipated that the Warrington Youth Zone would attract 3,000 members in the first year, create additonal employment opportunities at the youth club in addtion to high quality and developmental volunteering opportunities for community members with associated training and support. Trustees would be drawn from the local local business community, with a strong representation from the council.
The Executive Board is being asked to support the Youth Zone in principle and to work with Onside/Warrington Youth Club on a consultation exercise seeking the views of young people on the proposal and to consult with external stakeholders, as well as making provision, in principle, for the provision of £3m in the Council’s capital programme.
In was only in July that the building’s current owners, Salford Quays based LPC Living Ltd gave notice of demolition to Warrington Borough Council. As the building was not listed there were no powers to stop the demolition going ahead, although campainers launched a facebook group in a bid to save the building which shot to fame in the 1980s with the “Hitman and her” show featuring Pete Waterman and and Michaela Strachan.
Mr Waterman is believed to be one of the group of businessmen who will contribute towards the cost of setting up the Youth Zone.
An example of the Youth Zone at Wigan can be seen by CLICKING HERE
Mr Smith’s was formerly the Ritz and then the ABC cinema before it shot to fame in the 1980s, attracting large numbers of revellers each week.
More recently, it had short openings as Synergy and Halo nightclubs in the late 2000s but never attracted the same numbers to make it a viable business.
Warrington council failed in an attempt to buy the building in 2011 when it wanted to include the site in its plans to improve the waterfront area next to the Mersey.
They council was prepared to pay around £500,000 for the building at the time which eventually went for in the region of £1 million.
The building opened in August 1937 as a 1,928 seat cinema and the first film starred Robert Armstrong Without Orders and Chester Morris “I promise to pay.”


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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