Work starts to convert Mob Store at Berwick Barracks into temporary cinema

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Work is underway to build a new temporary cinema in Berwick while the town’s arts centre is transformed.

Earlier this year, Northumberland County Council approved plans for the conversion of the Mob Store at Berwick Barracks to provide a cinema facility.

It would just be used while the multi-million-pound redevelopment of The Maltings on Eastern Lane takes place. It is being designed in such a way that the Mob Store can then be adapted into an archive facility when The Maltings redevelopment is completed.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, residents living in neighbouring properties on Ravensdowne, who formed a group opposing the application, believe the project is not cut and dried as they said during the meeting in May and stressed to the Gazette afterwards that the cinema has to pass a strict sound test before it can open.

In the foreground are Coun Jeff Watson, left, and Scott Sherrard.In the foreground are Coun Jeff Watson, left, and Scott Sherrard.
In the foreground are Coun Jeff Watson, left, and Scott Sherrard.

North East contractor Northern Construction Solutions Ltd has been appointed for the work, which is estimated to take around six months.

The project includes upgrading the exterior and soundproofing to form a dedicated cinema space, with raked seating for 98 people.

Coun Jeff Watson, cabinet Member with responsibility for arts at the council, said: “It’s great to see this exciting project underway in the heart of Berwick.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Bearing in mind the age of the Barracks, it’s important that the work will be carried out sensitively and I’m confident it will be quite a magical place to watch films when it opens next year.”

The Maltings on Eastern Lane is being redeveloped.The Maltings on Eastern Lane is being redeveloped.
The Maltings on Eastern Lane is being redeveloped.

There will also be a new kiosk/box office, foyer space, temporary toilet block and accessible/cycle parking. All works will be carried out sensitively to minimise ecological and archaeological impacts.

Scott Sherrard, chair of trustees at Maltings (Berwick) Trust, said: “Creating the temporary Mob Store cinema is the first in a carefully planned sequence of interlinked steps.

“It will equip the Mob Store to become the Berwick Archives’ permanent base when The Maltings moves back home – making efficient use of public funding and securing the Archives’ future in Berwick.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The residents opposing the application said that they fully support the conversion for the purposes of Berwick Archives, but they believe a cinema is not needed at the Mob Store.

Their statement after the meeting included the following: “Our acoustic experts feel that the Maltings will probably struggle to pass one of the key conditions regarding noise leakage before it (the temporary cinema) can open. Who wants to go to a cinema where the noise has to be turned down?”

Berwick Barracks are Grade I Listed buildings and are among the first purpose-built barracks to be built in England, completed in 1721. The Mob Store dates from the early 20th Century and was used to store military equipment.

Berwick North county councillor Catherine Seymour said: “The work for a temporary cinema on site at the Barracks is to take place whilst our new Maltings is being built.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Consideration of our residents that live in the vicinity of this area is asked while we are undergoing this transition period. Thereafter, this space will secure the future for our precious Archives and dedicated archivist Linda Bankier.

“I am delighted it will become its permanent home to house all the rich material that has been carefully preserved for 500 years for the community.”