IT was an iconic room that had seen better days.
But now the Irving Room at the Kings Theatre in Southsea has been given a new lease of life thanks to the hard-working members of the venue’s trust.
Located in the theatre tower, the room was once home to a small restaurant but was more recently used as a storage area.
Water damage and deterioration had rendered the room unusable.
But it now boasts Edwardian-style shelving, a bar area, delicately-crafted stained-glass windows and opulent wallpaper – giving it a true early 1900s feel.
A new carpet has been fitted, chandeliers cleaned and reinstated and the walls have been cut back and re-plastered.
Trustees, guests and supporters gathered at the theatre yesterday for the room’s official opening by Chicago star Ali Basitian.
Miss Bastian, formerly of TV’s Hollyoaks and The Bill, is performing in the hit musical at the historic Albert Road venue.
She said: ‘It’s an absolute honour to open the Irving Room and to see it restored in all its former glory.
‘The cast of Chicago are having the most fabulous time at the Kings Theatre.
‘It’s the most beautiful theatre we have been in so far and you can see the history all around it.’
It has taken volunteers – with the help of contractors – around 10 years to complete the project, at a cost of £80,000.
The trust hopes the room will become a community space, with capabilities to hold conferences and for schools to hold lessons after tours around the theatre.
General manager David Cooper said: ‘The vast majority of work has been done by our volunteers and that’s brilliant.
‘It’s indicative of the theatre as a whole and shows what can be done by people with an affinity to the theatre.’
Sandra Smith, of the Kings Theatre, added: ‘It’s an absolutely brilliant transformation.
‘I cannot wait for people to come in and see it.
‘It’s beautiful and is in the style of how it used to be.
‘Well done to everyone who has volunteered and helped to get the room to where it is now.’