Stuart46

By Stuart46

Buildings of Newport (15)

Old toilets

You don't have to just visit a traditional theatre to see a show these days.
From plays in small houses to performances on moving Transporter Bridges, the world of theatre is becoming more and more special everyday.
And now, there's a new addition to unique theatre listings, as a former public toilet block has been transformed into a tiny arts space.
The building which was previously a gentlemen's loos on Alexandra Road in Pill, Newport - which is thought to have been built in the late 1800s - has undergone some serious renovation work.
It now has a new lease of life as a theatre with a capacity of around 25-30.
Renovating the old toilet block
After buying the toilet block during an auction last year, Janet Martin, who's been involved with the arts scene in Newport for 35 years, has been working hard to transform the Grade II-listed lavatories.
It came up for sale with an auction house and someone else appeared to buy it. However, that bid fell through and Janet, 64, then bought it directly
Janet, who also runs the Barnabas Arts Centre in Pill, said: "We bought it just before Christmas [2018] but had to wait until June for permission to take the urinals out because it's a listed building.
"But what we were able to do, prior to that, was the repair work - the roof had gone, the beams supporting the whole building were crumbling, there were cracks in the walls of the building."
In total, Janet said the whole thing, including the renovation work, labour and the building itself, cost around £75,000 to fix.
The urinals which were previously housed in the building (Image: Janet Martin)
She added: "I believe Newport is a really good place and although my business could've been in other parts of the world, I chose to stay put in Newport because I believe in Newport."
"This particular building, I've noticed for many years and always thought it was a bit cute and a bit quirky."
There are big plans for this small space.
It's open to "amateur and professional alike" from acoustic shows to dramatic performances and Janet says the space can be hired out from her for a fee and then organisers keep what they make from
There's even an upstairs (Image: Richard Swingler)
"It's an uncomplicated way of practising being in a theatre," she said, adding: "I want to increase confidence of people who want to have a go.
"But I also want to put other things on. I've got an idea for a Newport version of Dragons' Den but with small amounts of money and small businesses.
"You can do lots of things in the space."
The space has been named the Phyllis Maud Performance Space, after Janet's late auntie.
"It's being named after her because she left me some money," said Janet.

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