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Band On The Wall to return?

It’s going to cost more than a few quid but Manchester’s best known live music venue, Band On The Wall is set to make a comeback.

Published on March 19th 2007.


Band On The Wall to return?

Two years ago, legendary live music venue, Band On The Wall closed its doors for the last time, leaving the infamous Manchester music scene to be turned into karaoke fodder.

However, rumour has it that it’s coming back, and this time bigger and better than ever.

Band On The Wall is to be renovated as part of a £3.8m project which will see it reopen in autumn 2008 with recording studios, mixed-media equipment, educational facilities and plans to make live performances available for download over the internet. The secret headbangers of Manchester City Council have also chipped in with £700,000.

From starting off life as the George and Dragon in 1803, Band on the Wall has been the city's most eclectic music showcase for almost 200 years. It has played host to jazz, blues and reggae greats, including Art Blakey and Desmond Dekker, as well as the likes of Joy Division, The Buzzcocks, Mick Hucknall and Bjork. In the 90s it welcomed club culture, before the best of drum 'n' bass, hip hop, nu jazz and broken beat after the millennium.

But the plug was pulled on the historic Shude Hill venue in 2005 after it fell into disrepair and the renovation project suffered several setbacks, with costs spiraling to more than £6m.

Ian Croal, Chief Executive of Owners and registered charity Inner City Music, said: “We are very much hopeful that Band On The Wall will reopen. Detailed design proposals and a business plan have been submitted to Arts Council England, Manchester Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. We expect the three organisations to make decisions on the project by July.”

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The original plans included the redevelopment of the Grade II listed building next door on Swan Street and the Cocozza Wood building to the rear, on Foundry Lane.

However, the Cocozza Wood building has been dropped from the plans and a separate solution is being explored by its owners and Manchester Council.

Mr Croal said: “The project is about the rebirth of the venue, with new spaces, new facilties, new technology and new ideas. The existing main performance space will not be radically changed but will be enhanced, with heritage features conserved and the audience capacity improved.”

Plans have been streamlined for the redevelopment and grant bids submitted to several funding bodies and construction is planned to start in September.

Lynda Moyo

Were you a regular at Band On The Wall? Should the venue be brought back or would the £3.8m be better spent elsewhere? Share your thoughts with us…

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