Theatr Ardudwy

The first post-war theatre listed in Wales and a fine example of Brutalist architecture.

Theatrardudwy harlech c brinkstock alamy stock photo ttwebuseandsmonly detail
Address
St David's Hill, Harlech, Gwynedd, LL46 2PU, Wales
Risk Rating
7 (Community Rating: 3, Star Value: 2, Risk Factor: 2.)
Local Authority
Gwynedd Council
Owner
Addysg Oedolion Cymru (Adult Learning Wales)
Architect
Colwyn Foulkes and Partners
Date of Construction
1973
Listing
Grade II*
Capacity
266

Significance

Theatr Ardudwy was built as an arts centre attached to Grade II* listed Coleg Harlech. In 2016 it was determined that the theatre itself should also be included in the listing as it was both under the same ownership and as a structure forming part of and attached to a listed building. Some of the theatre’s facilities are also housed in parts of the original college building. The theatre is a radical design with all elements of the building having a clear external expression, and is considered a fine example of refined Brutalism of the period.

Why is this theatre at risk?

In February 2018 safety concerns forced the theatre to close. There has been little investment in the external fabric of the building for many years. The roof is in need of repair and there are other concerns over the deteriorating condition of exterior of the building, including some of the concrete elements where the steel reinforcement has rusted.

Coleg Harlech is also closed. Addysg Oedolion Cymru had been in conversation with the Welsh Government about the urgent repairs and planned maintenance programme for both the college and the theatre building. A feasibility study commissioned for the college site in 2016 recommended that a hotel or restaurant with serviced accommodation would be the most viable use for the site, to be run by a commercial operator. Concerns were raised that the physical condition of the theatre building may deter commercial operators and through this concern over the long-term viability of the theatre, it was suggested that the theatre be demolished. However, Arts Council Wales, who has awarded the theatre various grants over the years, believes that the theatre could be included in any development plans for the college site and that the site as a whole has potential as a community and cultural sector asset.

In October 2018 there were reports of the theft of lead and copper on both the theatre workshop and main college building roofs. Additional security measures including fencing, CCTV and alarms have since been introduced.

Cadw, in partnership with Snowdonia National Park Authority, has been working closely with Adult Learning Wales, the current owners of the site, to complete a Planning Guidance Note, which provides a planning framework to inform any future development.

Current situation

Both theatre and college are currently closed and the site up for sale, leaving the local community without access to the arts without significant travel. Theatres Trust hopes to work with the future owner, Arts Council Wales and Gwynedd Council to find a viable long-term solution for the theatre that both serves its local community and protects this fine theatre.

Image: Theatre Ardudwy, Brinkstock/Alamy Stock Photo