Brian Beacom

TEN minutes. That’s the time it will take to prevent the Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow from plummeting to disaster.

Ten minutes is all the time it will take to make sure damp doesn’t take hold and essential repairs and refurbs can be organised.

And those ten minutes of access will allow manager Iain Gordon to will ensure audiences can be convinced not desert this 114-year-old Class A- listed building.

The Pavilion in the city’s Renfield Street is in a state of near crises.

Two weeks ago, a fire which began at nearby Victoria’s Night Club in Sauchiehall Street brought devastation to adjacent businesses.

The Pavilion wasn’t burnt but it suffered from massive smoke damage and ash infiltration.

Read more: Sauchiehall Street fire: Firefighters vow to save Pavilion Theatre from blaze that could last days

It also suffered as a result of firefighters breaking their way into the building and clambering over the roof.

Now Iain Gordon is charged with repairing the theatre, and determining when he can stage his next show.

But he has been denied access to the theatre.

“I’ve been told I won’t be able to gain entry for three months,” he says in an exasperated voice at his rehearsal space in Springburn where he is attempting to keep the operation running.

“And at the moment, the real fear is the massive repairs that will have to be carried out.

“All the seats are likely to need replacing, as the ash from the smoke will have seeped into the foam.

“All the paintwork will have to be cleaned, and fire dust removed from ledges, which involves erecting scaffolding inside the building.

“And it’s likely the stench of smoke will have ruined the carpets as well. On top of that, there is the repair to the doors that were smashed in.”

He takes a deep breath and adds: “Of course, we then have to order new carpet, which can take months to make. And there is a real chance the curtains won’t be able to be cleaned or need to be replaced. It’s a nightmare.

“If you are looking at making the seats alone, that’s a six week period.

“But on top of that, there’s a four to five- week time frame to have the foam ordered and cut and all the material has to be ordered.

“And when you add all that to the 12-week period before I can even get back through the door, you can see how this could wreck our business.”

He adds: “As a result, I can’t programme theatre activity. We have a load of shows planned for the summer and autumn but we can’t tell our customers because we don’t know the extent of the damage to the theatre.”

The longer the Pavilion remains boarded up, problems with the building will increase exponentially.

“There is no heating in the building because we are not allowed to fill the fuel tanks.”

He is trying to keep his business running, sell tickets etc, from his rehearsal space. But he doesn’t have all his accounts, VAT and salary information. “It’s like starting to run a business from scratch.”

He pauses for a moment and adds: “I’m not criticising the firefighters. These people worked hard to help save our building and I’m immensely thankful for that. But we should be allowed to check the likes of the slates, to work out the damage the battle to defeat the fire has caused.”

The Pavilion has survived two world wars and the Krankies’ beanstalk disaster. It was flooded in the early 1990s when a water tank burst. And the theatre, the only non-subsidised major commercial theatre in Scotland, has had to battle for audiences, continually coming up with new comedy.

“Can we reassure customers the panto will go ahead as planned? And we sell most of our panto tickets in the spring and early summer.”

His voice drops into a state of near hopelessness. “If we don’t get the theatre up and running soon we’re fearful we could lose a great deal of panto business to other theatres. And will our staff all be with us when we re-open?”

Iain Gordon isn’t an angry man. That feeling has subsided.

“ I just need ten minutes. Ten minutes to let me find out the worst. And if don’t get that I fear the worst.

“There is only so much you can ask of an incredibly loyal audience. To wait months and months for a re-opening could wreck our relationship. We need the curtain to go back up soonest.”

Raymond Barlow, the senior manager within the council with operational expertise in building standards legislation, said: “The revised estimate for the demolition period is 10-12 weeks. The danger from the structures will reduce as they are gradually brought down. Assessments on this and the danger from ongoing debris removal will be made in relation to the continued exclusion from affected properties.

“I cannot however give any estimate on when the demolition will be sufficiently advanced to make such assessments.”