Topping out marks major milestone for new theatre
Archived press release
Date Published: 01/05/09
Actress Lynda Bellingham was a guest at the topping out ceremony
A key milestone in the construction of the exciting new Aylesbury Waterside Theatre was celebrated at a ‘topping out’ ceremony on 24 April.
Actress Lynda Bellingham, who is currently starring in the stage version of the award-winning film Calendar Girls at the Noel Coward Theatre in London, joined dignitaries from throughout Aylesbury Vale to mark the completion of the highest point of the building.
Lynda, a former Aylesbury High School pupil, was invited to sign and tighten the screws on the first plinth plate to be installed as part of the new development.
The ceremony, hosted by the main contractor, Willmott Dixon, also included the raising of a yew tree to the fly tower - the highest point of the structure. The use of the yew tree is believed to bring good luck for the future success of a new building.
Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre is rapidly taking shape in Exchange Street. The £35 million venue, which is due to open next year, has transformed the town centre skyline since building work started in 2007.
The concept for the theatre was developed by Aylesbury Vale District Council and internationally-renowned theatre designers, RHWL Arts Team. The venue will have a 1,200-seat auditorium that converts into a 1,800-capacity hall for standing events, and a 225-seat suite for smaller events including dance, drama, meetings and conferences.
Around 300,000 people from across Aylesbury Vale and beyond are expected to visit the Waterside Theatre each year to enjoy a dynamic and diverse programme of live performances. The Ambassador Theatre Group, who will be managing the venue on behalf of the district council, plan to deliver an exciting mix of West End shows, comedy, dance, concerts, gigs, pantomime, as well as international opera and ballet.
Nigel Brooke, Corporate Director (Services) at AVDC, said: “I am delighted that work to our new theatre is progressing so well. The topping out marks an important milestone and gives us an exciting taste of what’s to come – an excellent new venue for the benefit of the whole community.”
Mark Chamberlain, Project Director for Willmott Dixon, said: “It has been considered good luck to raise a yew tree to the roof of a new building at the topping out for many centuries now. The topping out is to thank everybody involved in the project for their input so far and nowadays also serves as a great opportunity to bring people with an interest in the project to have a look at developments at a stage when the building begins to take shape. Reaching the highest point is a major milestone so we were really pleased so many people joined us to celebrate.”