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WATCH: Behind the scenes of the Jersey Opera House revamp...

WATCH: Behind the scenes of the Jersey Opera House revamp...

Tuesday 03 October 2023

WATCH: Behind the scenes of the Jersey Opera House revamp...

Tuesday 03 October 2023

With Jersey Opera House's chandelier currently in a box and the main auditorium filled with scaffolding, refurbishment of the historic venue is well underway.

Last month, Ashbe Construction were named as the company responsible for the first phase of the venue's refurb. The work started in August.

Ashbe director Ben Cairney spoke to Express about the project, which he says is still at a very early stage.

"We're investigating and really understanding what flaws there are with the building," he said. "We don't know exactly what we're going to find."

Video: Ashbe Construction director Ben Cairney gives an update on the works at Jersey Opera House. (Megan Davies)

But despite warnings from Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel that he "wouldn’t be surprised if they discovered issues which may require additional time or resource to resolve", no unexpected issues have been found as of yet.

A wall at the back of the Opera House stage has listed status, as does the dome with its intricate details. 

This dome, Ben said, is one of the island's most protected places due to the techniques used to decorate it.

All seats have been taken out of the auditorium and wrapped in plastic until it is decided whether they will be replaced or upholstered and put back into place.


Pictured: The proposed new façade for the Jersey Opera House. (Morris Architects) 

Ben explained that the parts of the building the public will see make up only 20% or so of the whole building. There are offices, rehearsal rooms, and underground workshops which all need refurbishing and updating.

There are currently 15 people working on-site, and this number could rise up to 50 or 60 in future.

Among them are specialists who have worked on Buckingham Palace and the Royal Opera House – but Ben stresses that employing locals is an important part of the company's proposal, with roles for low-level offenders and people on training courses.

"We're up to the task," Ben said. "And we want to give people a building and a space that the community can be proud of."

"We've got everything to gain and everything to lose, the A-team is on it and we're quite passionate about it," he added.

Pictured top: The main auditorium seen from above and filled with scaffolding. (Megan Davies)

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