Brewery rejects theatre offer

The Lion Theatre EMN-140228-155656001
The Lion Theatre EMN-140228-155656001

The future of Horncastle’s Lion Theatre is still hanging in the balance after their offer to buy the premises was rejected.

The News can reveal the theatre company submitted a bid of £80, 000 for their traditional ‘home’ at the Red Lion.

However, that offer has been turned down by a South Yorkshire based brewery that owns the Red Lion public house and the adjoining theatre building.

The theatre effectively has ‘protected status’ until July 14 but it is uncertain what will happen beyond that date.

As a result, the theatre company has reluctantly been forced to scrap plans for any productions at the Red Lion after July 14.

However, theatre company chairman Shirley Mogffat said performances could be held at other venues in Horncastle.

It is understood the theatre company could hold talks with the town’s two senior schools - Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School and Banovallum School - about staging productions.

Ms Moffat said: “It is disappointing that our offer has been rejected but I can’t say that we are surprised.

“We have struggled to contact the brewery throughout this whole process. They haven’t wanted to talk to us.

“It is a shame we have had to rule out any productions at the theatre after the date in July but we were left with no alternative,

“However, there are other venues in the town and whatever happens, we are determined to ensure that live theatre continues in Horncastle.”

It was thought the brewery wanted to sell both the public house and the theatre, which did not have a legally binding lease. However, a deadline for an action expired earlier this year without any sale.

In the meantime, East Lindsey District Council had awarded the theatre building protected community status.

That effectively means nothing can happen to the building until that date in July.

In a further twist to the saga, it has emerged the brewery has been advertising for a manager to take over the running of the pub, which has been closed for several months,

The advert appears on a website and includes a phone number.

Ms Moffat said the theatre company had rung the number but discovered it was a recruitment agency.

She added: “We’re not certain what will happen if they re-open the pub. Hopefully, they (the manager) would want to involve the theatre and we could stay at our premises.

“That would be the perfect solution, but everything is very much up in the air. It is very frustrating and annoying.”

Ms Moffat confirmed productions planned until July would continue as advertised.

No-one from the brewery has been available to comment on the situation.