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Warehouse Theatre in Croydon stripped of valuable items by administrators

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THE lights went out – and were then sold – at the Warehouse Theatre this week.

In the latest, and perhaps final, act of the theatre's drawn-out demise, the building on Dingwall Road was stripped of anything of value by administrator Jeremy Frost.

Some of the items, including the lighting rig, chairs and tables, have already been sold to cover his costs, and the rest is likely to be auctioned on eBay.

If it is to be the last word for one of the borough's few remaining cultural attractions – at least in its current home – it was suitably dramatic.

As Mr Frost removed memorabilia and salvageable equipment last Friday, Ted Craig, the theatre's former artistic director, arrived at the site.

An argument ensued and the police were called after one of the administrator's team – accused of stealing the items – was hit with a stick.

"Some of my staff were accused of being thieves, that they were stealing stuff from the theatre," said Mr Frost.

"We were actually saving it. If we didn't take the stuff it was going to end up chucked in the skip. One of my guys was hit with a piece of wood. It wasn't a two-by-four, but we had to get the police."

Officers attended the scene and later spoke to the team member, who did not want to take the matter further.

Mr Craig described the incident as "something and nothing".

"I just felt it was a bit of a raid," he said. "I knew it was going to happen, because he kept asking me to help him.

"There was nothing of huge value in the building, there never has been, but it wasn't pretty watching them scurry in and out.

"I just think it's odd that he has been the administrator for nine months, incurring a significant amount of costs dealing with a company with no assets, then suddenly turns up to strip the place on a Friday afternoon. It's very strange behaviour."

Mr Frost was appointed as the theatre's administrator last May.

It was operated as a bar until November when the theatre's landlord, Stanhope/Schroders, took back control of the building and undertook a structural survey to test its safety.

Mr Frost said: "I was told a couple of weeks ago that Stanhope had got an independent valuation of the contents and were just going to bin it all.

"We went to the council and asked for money to buy whatever was in there, and they declined.

"So we went down there for the last time. We found someone who was prepared to take the lights and we've taken the pictures to sell on eBay. Someone had already taken the scripts. That's pretty much it now. I expect the theatre to be knocked down."

Mr Frost and his team removed the items from the building a few hours after the power was switched off.

Under a Section 106 planning agreement signed with the council when Stanhope/Schroders received planning permission for their Ruskin Square homes and offices development, the companies will give £3million to help finance a new theatre on the site, although the money will only be released when a viable business plan is put forward.

In the meantime, supporters of the theatre have so far donated £13,000 to the Warehouse Phoenix Limited, a new company determined to continue its work.

Warehouse Theatre in Croydon stripped of valuable items by administrators


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