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Leas Pavilion named by Victorian Society on UK's most at risk list

By Matt Leclere

The Leas Pavilion is one of the most at-risk buildings in the country, according to a new list published today.

The Victorian Society has included the Edwardian pavilion in its 2017 Top 10 Endangered Buildings list.

The charity which promotes historic architecture throughout England and Wales hopes to highlight the plight of the venue in a bid to save it.

Campaigners from the Friends of the Leas Pavilion hope to open the venue as a community space. Picture: Gary Browne/KM Group
Campaigners from the Friends of the Leas Pavilion hope to open the venue as a community space. Picture: Gary Browne/KM Group

Residents have formed a high-profile campaign to save the building from demolition and have been lobbying owners, Churchgate, to restore it.

Friends of the Leas Pavilion hope to reopen the historic 1920s Grade II listed pavilion on The Leas as a community space.

They are in the process of trying to obtain a 100-year lease from Churchgate, who were given permission to build flats above the building in 2015. The pavilion first opened as tearooms in 1902.

The reason for it being sunk into the street was the ‘ancient lights’ clause in leases for hotels on either side meaning no building could be built more than 7ft above street level.

This was to ensure daylight would not be blocked from these buildings.

The Leas Pavilion is listed on the Victorian Society's top 10 most endangered list for 2017. Picture: Gary Browne/KM Group
The Leas Pavilion is listed on the Victorian Society's top 10 most endangered list for 2017. Picture: Gary Browne/KM Group

Designed by local architect, Reginald Pope, the building had to go below ground level.

Christopher Costelloe, Victorian Society Director, said: “This charming Edwardian pavilion on the Kent coast has marvellous potential as a community space, and it’s a crying shame that hasn’t been realised for so long.

“The community group currently campaigning for its restoration are doing a laudable job at generating local awareness and raising funds, but the long-term future of this building can only be safeguarded with a sensitive restoration to bring it back into the community where it belongs.”

Julia Jones, Allison Glen and Liz Mulqueen from the Friends of the Leas Pavilion group. Picture: Gary Browne
Julia Jones, Allison Glen and Liz Mulqueen from the Friends of the Leas Pavilion group. Picture: Gary Browne

After its time as a tearooms, the building was converted into a theatre until its closure in 1985.

Its last incarnation was as a nightclub before the venue shut its doors in 2010.

The pavilion was Folkestone’s first cinema in 1911, was used by soldiers billeted in Folkestone during the First World War, and was the town’s last repertory theatre.

Actor Griff Rhys Jones is the Victorian Society’s vice president.

He said: “The Victorian Society’s Top 10 Endangered Buildings campaign is now in its tenth year and over the years we have seen what a difference it can make to the future of Victorian and Edwardian buildings in peril.”

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