Iconic west country building saved

5 min

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Secured future

One of the south west’s most iconic buildings has a secure future thanks to a colossal injection of cash in the final nail-biting hours of a Crowdfunding venture.

A minimum target of £285,000 was set so Nudge Community Builders could begin work on Plymouth’s Millennium Building. 

The 90-year-old structure may have been derelict for more than 15 years, but it has a special place in the hearts of countless generations who’ve been entertained there.

Break Time News was given an exclusive peak inside the building during a tour with Wendy Hart, Nudge Co-director (pictured).

A quick recap on how BTN is on a guided tour around this Devon landmark. Those of you following the story may recall that Monday 20 December 2021 was the cut-off point for the crowd funding appeal to succeed.

At the time, Wendy had remarked that it had become an ‘all or nothing’ push to the finish line. The whole Nudge team were ‘peddling as fast as we can to make it.’ 

In other words, the minimum amount had to be raised by 11:59 p.m. – or the whole thing was off. 

That morning and things were looking to be close. Very close. It could have gone either way. In the end, a huge final push saw the team not just reach the minimum target, but they went beyond it. Almost 100 people invested in the project in the final 24 hours. 

The share scheme eventually saw more than 450 people investing amounts ranging from £50 to £5000. All of them with the same dream: to secure the future of the Millennium Building in Union Street, Plymouth. 

Nudge had set a minimum fundraising target of £285,000 in just 101 days. The final tally was £311,125 with a colossal amount raised in the final hours. There were 12 investments of more than £5,000.

The money means they can pay back the cost of the building’s purchase plus have some funds left over to cover some of the work required to make it operational. 

‘Some people put down £5000 that day and others could see we were going to make it and began to believe in it,’ says Wendy. ‘It was around six or seven o’clock when we realised we would make it.’

Campaign success in just 101 days

‘The minimum raise of £285,000 will repay the loan which means it’s now genuinely community owned. The share offer has given us working capital to make a start on the ground floor which will be matched by our partner EWA.’

‘It’s hard work. This is the second one we’ve done. You prepare for a long time and then watch it for how many times a day?’

‘You could negotiate a loan with a bank, but it wouldn’t be truly community owned as the money would be going to a High Street bank, but this is genuinely grass roots owned.’  

Work has already started with the Clear and Clean Softwash Solutions’ team providing a spot of TLC around the exterior of the building.

Surveys on the ground floor will be happening next so that businesses can start to move in and generate revenue. 

It’s hoped that, within the next five years, the whole building will become very active in its transformation to cater for companies, gigs and exhibitions.

Wendy and the team will use the income generated from people moving in to pay into the community fund offer so meeting the terms of the investors.  

Our tour of the building includes a peak at the old cinema auditorium and the upstairs bar area. 

It’s a place which brings back lots of memories for lots of people, including those who queue around the block to get into the venue when it was a nightclub back in the 1990s.

The décor on the downstairs walls immediately throws us 25 years back in time. Part of the word ‘Hollywood’ can still be seen in bright purple. 

Wendy points towards a painted image of a model throwing a Monroe styled provocative pose towards the old dancefloor.

We head upstairs where you can see the original 1930s art deco style of decoration on the walls, celling and even on the stairs themselves. 

The 2000 seat cinema auditorium is still there, albeit without the seating. The central 1930s art deco artwork of the Gaumont Palace Theatre remains resolutely and stoutly proud on the ceiling.  

The team has been inundated with local people who have fond memories of their time in this building.

And that’s everyone from those who can recall watching The Sound of Music on the big screen, back in the 1960s, through to the clubbers who would be entertained by a ‘spoon man’ while they waited to gain entry to the 1990s nightclub venue.    

Nudge is currently looking for people to share their stories with them for the benefit of future generations.

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