Backers of Wilton’s Music Hall await crucial funding decision

Fans of the oldest remaining music hall in the world, situated in the heart of the East End, will have their fingers crossed that it is successful in a �2.25 million funding bid next week.

Wilton’s Music Hall in Graces Alley, Whitechapel, which opened in 1858, has been bombarded over the years by neglect and decay and despite re-opening in 1997, its supporters need to find �4m to secure its future.

The charity behind it, including artistic director Frances Mayhew, 33, will find out next Wednesday if they’ve been successful in their vital application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Ms Mayhew said: “It’s a huge stability project, it’s not just a lick of paint.

“We have done well at raising funds and patching it up, but it’s been running away from us.

“We love the building and we believe we’ve got a strong application but so will everyone else in the country.”

If successful, the windfall will go towards permanently stabilising the five houses at the front of the hall and its bar floor, which are currently supported by metal jousts; putting in electrics and running water and building a roof over the auditorium.

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Income for the functioning theatre tends to come from private hire, such as its use as a film location, with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law recently filming there for the forthcoming Sherlock Holmes sequel.

The charity was unsuccessful in a bid in 2007, when it was told there was not enough emphasis on heritage-based activities. But Ms Mayhew believes they stand a better chance on this occasion.

She said: “The National Trust has helped us put the application together.

“We’ve revised it 100 per cent and shown that we can raise money ourselves as well.”

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