WORK is underway on a £170,000 project to replace the roof of a landmark Minehead building.

A complex scaffolding layout is being constructed on the Regal Theatre, in The Avenue, for the work, which will take around 13 weeks.

The complicated scaffolding structure will allow workers to access the multi-level roof, which also covers the Poundland store on the ground floor of the building.

The project is being undertaken by the MATA (Minehead Amateur Theatrical Association) Regal Theatre Company Ltd – an organisation entirely run by volunteers, who said the theatre will remain open for the duration of the project.

The Regal building opened in 1934 as a 1,600-seat cinema and was later used for live performances.

In 1979, it was converted into its present format with 400 raked seats, the stalls on the ground floor of the original cinema being converted into retail premises, now occupied by Poundland.

MATA and Regal Film Society chair, Victoria Thomas, said: “Generous sponsorship funding has enabled The MATA Regal Theatre Co Ltd to undertake the re-roofing project, as well as the installation of a new heating and ventilation system, and this represents an important step towards establishing a sustainable future for the theatre.”

Somerset County Gazette:

LAYERS: The roof of the Regal Theatre

Over the last 10 years, the cement-based roof has deteriorated considerably causing several serious leaks, and the entire existing roof will be removed and replaced with a modern material comprising profiled steel composite insulated sheeting.

A new heating and ventilation system has already been installed in the building and a heat recovery unit will be fitted in the new roof as the work progresses.

Once the installation is complete, the system will operate more efficiently by recovering and recycling waste heat, improving comfort in the auditorium.

The work is being carried out in close co-operation with Pat Scott, who recently bought the next-door warehouse discount store – which used to be the Regal ballroom – and is carrying out work on the building to convert it into a multi-screen cinema later in the year.

MATA, which runs the Regal, is a charity with 200 volunteers who have helped to get the project to its current stage. Leading the project is Ian Melhuish, chair of the building sub-committee, whom many Minehead residents will remember as their optometrist.

The Regal hosts a wide range of events staged by the Minehead Panto People, Minehead and Exmoor Music Festival, Minehead Dramatic Society, Waterfront, the Barnstormers and many others. It is also home to the Regal Film Society, one of the largest societies in the country with more than 550 members.

The present building in The Avenue, Minehead, is privately owned by John Welch, who acquired the property in 1977 and leases the building to MATA for a peppercorn rent.