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INTERVIEW: "I don't want to sell out" says man who singlehandedly restored iconic Morecambe venue

Nick Smith says he won't give up on his dream for the Queen's Market in Morecambe

A man who has singlehandedly transformed an iconic Morecambe building says he doesn't want to 'sell out' and give up on his dream for its future.

Nick Smith continues to battle on in his plans to kickstart a community regeneration project inside the former Crystal T's building in the town centre.

Last year Nick was on the verge of scrapping his plans for a community hub where local people can go to develop skills in art, performance, science, technology and much more.

He realises he could rent out the former market, nightclub and squash club; or convert it to flats as an easy cash-in.

But the former Morecambe High School pupil - who has worked for seven years to revitalise the venue - says he can't let the people down who believe in him.

"I'm on this precipice, I could go either way," Nick told Beyond Radio's Bryan Griffin, in an interview for the 'Happy Talk' podcast.

LISTEN to our interview with Nick Smith

"I could let it commercially and make a load of money but that won't help the town. It will create jobs but it won't create opportunities and it won't create careers.

"It's the people I've spoken to in the street. There's somebody who gives me a pound every time he sees me. He believes in me and that I've got the tenacity to pull this off. I don't want to let those people down.

"I don't want to sell out, make a load of money, but feel that I can't walk around Morecambe."

The Victoria Street building was built as the Queen's Market in 1895.

It later became home to the Palladium Cinema, then Crystal T's and Concorde Squash Club, but had been closed for years until Nick bought it at auction for £50,000 in 2015.

He then began the painstaking process of clearing the derelict building of 200 tonnes of rubbish, restoring original features, and transforming the look of the interior and exterior - all by himself.

He has made great progress with the renovations, but still Nick is struggling to find the funding and support he needs.

A fundraising 'Sponsor a Petal' plan, where he hopes to raise £1m from one million people paying £1 each to have their names on hand-painted dandelion petals on the ceiling, has filled just 2,000 petals to date.

Last year Nick said the project was at 'breaking point' and he was unlikely to continue past the end of 2022 unless investment could be found.

But he has decided to carry on, determined to make a breakthrough with his plans.

"It is really hard at the moment," he said.

"When I bought it people said knock it down and make flats, and that seems to be the answer to everything.

"I've saved the building and that's what I set out to do. I don't need to take the full market value. I have the opportunity to let the entire building to the community company I've set up."

Nick has established the Queen's Market Community Interest Company, hoping to invest in local talent - be it performers, chefs, writers or engineers - who would then say 'Morecambe made me'.

Some of his ideas for the building include a science education experience and an innovations cafe.

On Easter Monday Nick held an open day at the Queen's Market for people to take a look around the building.

Award-winning local band Indifferent Monkey also recently did some filming at the venue.

For more details on the Queen's Market project and the fundraising page see the Facebook group here or go to queensmarket.org

All donations will go to the Community Interest Company to help with setting it up.

Related Story: Morecambe Queen's Market project may be scrapped unless funding found by end of year - Beyond Radio

LISTEN to more of Bryan Griffin's 'Happy Talk' podcast series here:

Happy Talk - Beyond Radio

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