They’re on site at the city centre’s historic Palace Theatre building, making it ready for a dramatic but sensitive overhaul in the coming two years.
The structure was built in 1888 and, in its long history, has undergone a series of interior makeovers resulting in a complex rabbit warren with steep, winding staircases and numerous spaces of different shapes and sizes.
The challenges for those now in the early stages of rescuing the building are intensified by the structure’s derelict state after almost two decades of disuse.
Swansea Council plans a big future for the six-storey building, having taken it out of private ownership shortly before the pandemic.
Council leader Rob Stewart said: “The Palace was in a terrible state and could have been lost to Swansea.
“It was dilapidated after years of being in private hands; we rescued it when we purchased the building for the people of Swansea
“We’re transforming it with the help of specialist partners such as GWP Architecture and main contractor R&M Williams Ltd.”
Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “We’re striving to restore and retain key features and to make the Palace an important location for the city’s ongoing £1bn regeneration and exciting future.”
R&M Williams contracts manager Simeon Reed said: “Due to the Palace’s age and poor condition, we’re encountering many challenges as we make good progress. Once the work’s complete, the city will have a building that’ll be a dynamic focal point for a regenerated area.”
GWP Architecture director Richard Townend said: “We look forward to seeing specialist conservation trades – including roofers, lead workers, metal workers, joiners and plasterers – using their knowledge and experience to create and restore key aspects of the Palace Theatre building.”
Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “We want to breathe new life into our town centres and I am pleased that we’ve been able to contribute to this important project via our Transforming Towns programme.”
The grade two listed building is being transformed sensitively into a home for tech businesses, start-up and creative businesses, with Tramshed Tech to lease the building as lead tenant.
Work began on site in 2021 and the building is due to reopen in 2024. The project is being assisted with funding from the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government, via the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns programme.
Photo: The roof space at Swansea’s Palace Theatre building as it is now – with the slates removed and covered in weatherproof sheeting.