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Is it over for Oldham Coliseum? Oh no it isn’t!

Updated: Feb 19

Former Coronation Street actress, Julie Hesmondhalgh, led a Panto flash mob through the centre of Oldham on November, 11, in a bid to save the Coliseum building.

The theatre closed its doors on March 31st, after losing Arts Council funding. A new build is set to open in 2026 but ground has not yet been broken.

Ms Hesmondhalgh said: “The new building is not what the people of Oldham want. It’s not what the artists of Greater Manchester want. We want to reopen the existing building because the auditorium is absolutely perfect and fit for purpose.”

Marking what would have been the opening performance of the Coliseum’s renowned pantomime, which has been going for over 130 years, campaigners were joined by stars such as John Henshaw and Annie Wallace as the group gave residents hope that the fight was not over.

Ms Hesmondhalgh said: “What we’re trying to do is build up a bit of momentum and show the media, show the wider public that the passion to save the theatre hasn’t died down at all.”

Ian Kershaw who has had a number of his plays performed at the theatre reiterated the theatres importance: “Seeing coaches pull up at this time of year and hundreds of kids pouring off, going into the theatre for the first time, and seeing their faces light up — it was just amazing.”

Families with generational connections to the Coliseum gathered in force to make their point heard. Mother and son, Julie and Sean Connolly were emotional as they recalled memories of the beloved theatre: “They’ve brought so many cultures together and we were a family, we can’t let it go. Our main aim is to get our home back.”

Ms Hesmondhalgh concluded: “We’re not trying to blame anybody, what we’re trying to do now is say, how can we work together to create a really good news story for Oldham?”

The group gathered at the Bank Top Tavern before parading through the town and continuing their calls for action on the steps of the boarded up Coliseum.

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