2011: Aldeburgh Festival Pumphouse venue reopens for 2011

As published by BBC News, 7 June 2011

An intimate venue on the edge of Aldeburgh Marshes has reopened for the town’s annual music festival.

The 60-seat Pumphouse now has toilets, a dressing room and a foyer. The revamp is part of a £16m capital spending programme by Aldeburgh Music, which runs the Aldeburgh Festival from its Snape Maltings headquarters.

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Cal Fell in the new dressing room at the Pumphouse

“It’s very hot, sweaty and exciting and occasionally people from the audience are invited to join in,” said Cal Fell, Pumphouse manager for the festival.

The Aldeburgh Festival, founded by Benjamin Britten, returns for a 64th year from 10-26 June with a mainly classical programme. The Pumphouse originally opened as a festival venue in 2000.

‘Winding-down place’

Ms Fell said: “The original idea was to provide a space where festival artists could come and let their hair down and do something alternative and experimental that they couldn’t get away with at Snape Maltings. But it was also to incorporate the people of Aldeburgh and provide a drinking space and general winding-down place. Lots of people have got back on board the Aldeburgh Festival through coming to hear bits of contemporary classical music.”

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The decking outside the Pumphouse looks out over Aldeburgh Marshes

Image caption The decking outside the Pumphouse looks out over Aldeburgh Marshes

The Pumphouse is a former sewage company building which was bought by a neighbouring householder, Simon Steer, in 1993. He carried out some refurbishment work and then donated it to Aldeburgh Music.

Mr Steer said: “I was always attracted by the character of the building. I thought perhaps we’d be using it for impromptu theatre, picture exhibitions until I got an inquiry from Aldeburgh Foundation which was the beginning of what it is now.”

Mr Steer said he was confident that the flood plain poses little danger to the Pumphouse.

“I’ve done a lot of measuring on that and I believe the Pumphouse to be just high enough to avoid some of the worst flooding of the past.”

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