Having stood empty for a number of years when the University of Essex bought the site for £1.1m in 2007, weather and vandal damage was becoming a significant threat to the fabric of the Grade II Listed church.
The vision of the University was to expand their Southend campus by developing the redundant church building as ‘Clifftown Studios’ for its department E15 Acting School, with the brief to provide a specialised teaching complex with facilities for theatre courses, and a flexible 200 seat auditorium.
Beardwell Construction were awarded the contract to bring the building back from an empty shell to a vibrant modern day teaching facility. The project required the building to be completely gutted and reconfigured whilst retaining special artefacts. The pews and the fine carved oak pulpit have been offered to the United Reformed Church for use in other churches. Retained timber structure and joinery have been lightened in tone by cleaning and re-coating. Modern paintwork has been removed from carved Bath stone tracery and capitals. The fine pipe organ has been retained.
The original nave of the Church is now home to a modern auditorium that even a West End theatre would be envious of with a state of the art sound and light system operated from a central control room. The whole project was successfully delivered by Beardwell responsible too for the management and co-ordination of the specialist theatre contractors and artisans.