The discovery of a Grade II-listed theatre’s long-lost seats on eBay will help restore it “back to its original glory”, a preservation trust has said.
Hundreds of seats from Morecambe Winter Gardens were thought to have been destroyed or sent to Australia after being removed in the 1980s.
However, a listing on the auction site revealed they were actually only 35 miles away in Leyland Masonic Hall.
The theatre’s preservation trust now hopes to raise funds to buy them back.
The seats were removed when the theatre was closed in 1977 and mystery surrounded their whereabouts for almost 40 years.
But then trustees at Morecambe Winter Gardens were contacted by the Theatres Trust, with the news that more than 400 of the seats had been listed online.
Mike Pinckard, the chairman of the Leyland and District Group of Freemasons, said there had always been a rumour that the seats had come from Morecambe but it had never been confirmed.
The Winter Gardens Preservation Trust’s Susan Lomax said the find came as a “great surprise”, as the trust believed “[we] would never see them again”.
As a result, the owners of the seats cancelled the auction and have offered them to the Winter Gardens, which now has 12 months to raise the money to buy them.
Friends of the Winter Gardens, who were fundamental in helping the theatre to reopen its doors in 2003, have launched a seat sponsorship campaign to raise the necessary funds.
Chairman Stephen Jones said buying the seats was about “more than just the restoration of the building”.
“It will help us in our journey to bring the building back to its original glory at the heart of a vibrant seaside community,” he added.