When Diss’ Grade II Listed Corn Hall reopens it doors on Tuesday 2 May, it will provide a transformed building, which is exciting, bright and welcoming, and one that is completely accessible to everyone – locals and visitors alike – in the daytime as well as for evening events.
Diss Mayor Mike Bardwell will perform the official ‘tape cutting’ on 5 May at 11.30 am, with the help of a well known celebrity welcoming the public to view the entire building, with the help of staff as guides and ‘explainers’.
Built in 1854, the Corn Hall was an impressive and state-of-the-art hall for the trading of corn and a hub of activity in the heart of Diss. After 162 years, the building – run since 2010 by The Diss Corn Hall Trust as a lively arts venue – was in need of major investment to save it from serious water damage and to upgrade the facilities to current standards. After two years of closure and a complete refurbishment, the people’s Corn Hall is finally ready once again to take centre stage of community life in Diss – for the next 100 years and beyond.
This represents the first phase of the major regeneration project in the Heritage Triangle, which will be completed over the next few months and includes remodelling the streetscape and building a new community garden and a boardwalk across the Mere.
The project has been made possible by a grant of £1.87 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund, £880k from Diss Town Council, South Norfolk Council and Norfolk County Council, a staggering contribution of £125k by local residents and businesses along with further grants from other national and local funders.
The Corn Hall’s reopening programme includes appearances by some famous faces including Shappi Khorsandi and David Starkey. Live screenings from the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House return, as does an ambitious exhibition programme.
Family fun continues with The Saturday Club each month, the ever-popular Comedy Club arrives home in June, and July kicks off with a Beer, Gin and Rum Festival. Later in the year, BBC Strictly’s professional dancers, Ian Waite and Camilla Dallerup, will take to the Corn Hall stage, while The Searchers continue their long relationship with the Corn Hall – and in December we will present our first professional pantomime, Aladdin.
The story of Diss will also be told by permanent and interactive displays in the Hall and an on-line heritage research facility available to all. The Corn Hall’s varied history and fortunes will be the subject of its opening exhibition, accompanied by a talk by Professor Alun Howkins on May 16th, entitled ‘Corn, Criminals and Concerts’ reflecting facets of the Hall’s life.
The new Corn Hall will have a café open daily, ‘Fredricks at the Corn Hall’, a new bar run by Grain Brewery, public toilets, will incorporate Diss’s tourist information centre and will be fully accessible.
The main auditorium, the largest in South Norfolk seating 300, will have a motorised tiered seating system to seat over half a sell-out audience, underfloor heating and much improved acoustics.
10 St Nicholas St, Diss IP22 4LB | Tel: 01379 652241 | www.thecornhall.co.uk