an army of volunteers is being sought as Wakefield’s landmark Unity Hall gets set to be transformed into a multi-million pound music venue.
The Grade II listed 19th century building, which has stood empty for 25 years, is being restored by Unity House (Wakefield) Limited – a co-operative which has raised £4m by issuing shares to local businesses, community organisations and music fans.
Chris Hill, director of Unity Hall, said: “Now we are on site, with a clear opening target of August next year, we want to see what skills we might be able to draw on amongst our supporters over the next few months.
“Our first task is to bring the unit on the corner of Smyth St and Westgate into temporary use for art, exhibition, small event space. It is a completely open agenda what we do with it. “
Mr Hill added: “Almost every type of ability is of interest to us - labouring, joinery, painting and design. We want to fuse the power of community and business in Unity Hall. Tricky, but worth the effort.”
As well as a 600-seat music and theatre hall, there will be 10,000 sq ft of office space equipped with high-specification digital infrastructure for new businesses, a restaurant, cafe, and conference facilities.
A 150-seat function room is also planned along with 3,500 sq ft of meeting space.
The project has received financial backing from the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.
Partnership chiefs estimate up to 300 jobs could be created in the long term when the hall is up and running.
Unity Hall was first opened in 1902 by the Wakefield Wholesale Co-operative Society.
From the 1950s to the 1980s, it was Wakefield’s most important music venue and hosted some of the biggest bands of the era.