THE owners of one of York’s most important 19th century buildings are confident they will find suitable new tenants for it, following the York Theatre Royal’s departure.

The York Conservation Trust says three parties have already expressed an interest in the De Grey Rooms, a Grade II* listed neo-classical building in St Leonard’s Place - but it won’t be rushing into any decision.

The Press reported yesterday (Wednesday) how the theatre, which has used the adjacent Rooms for the past decade for workshops and events, as well as a base for its costume hire department, was having to hand it back to the trust because of the theatre’s dire financial plight in the wake of the pandemic.

The theatre, which has been dark since the lockdown started in March, has also had to shed 16 jobs and has launched a new voucher fundraising scheme to try to secure its long term future.

The Rooms were built in 1841-1842 as a meeting place and dining room for the officers of the Yorkshire Hussars, whose colonel was the Earl De Grey, but they were also used for concerts, balls, public entertainment and meetings.

During the Second World War and afterwards, the ballroom and cocktail bar were used for public dances, with many couples going on to marry after meeting there.

But by the early 2000s, the ground floor was used as York’s tourist information centre, with the basement being used for storage, and it became somewhat rundown.

The trust then bought it from the council and carried out a major refurbishment.

The Press reported in 2018 how the Rooms were set to be renovated again to become a “more attractive” events and wedding venue, with work carried out in the entrance hall, toilets, cocktail room and ballroom as well as repairs to the roof.

In the entrance hall, work was done to restore as much of the building’s 19th century aesthetic as possible, while in the cocktail salon a “bespoke” new bar was installed and the room completely redecorated, and the ballroom was given a revamp.

Jonathan Bryant, chief executive and secretary of the trust, said yesterday that the theatre had now removed its possessions from the De Grey Rooms and vacated it.

The trust’s first priority now was to make it secure and then to carry out some improvements before eventually finding a suitable new tenant.

He said the middle of the pandemic was not the right time to ensure the right tenant could be found for the building and the trust would need to be patient.

However, three parties had already expressed an interest and had been asking questions about it, although he could not disclose who they were or what they had in mind for it.

“I am very confident we will find the right use for it,” he said.

“It’s an important building for York, right in the centre of the city.”