The Viva Theatre

Transforming a late 19th Century mill into a centre for arts, cultural and community activity for the area
The transformation and regeneration of Spencer’s Mill into The Viva Theatre has shaped Viva’s future – it now has a permanent home.

The Mill

Spencer's Mill is a three-storey former mill building dating from the late 19th Century.

Standing in an area of the town where milling took place for centuries, it was used in the production of flour then animal feed. It is a very rare survivor of a once-thriving industry that employed many people from Soham and the district and was a major contributor to the local economy. The Mill ceased production in the 1980s, has been vacant since that time and has become more derelict as the decades passed. It stands as an eloquent testimony to a time and way of life long passed, but without Viva’s intervention it would very soon have been beyond saving.

Other mill buildings in the area have either been demolished or incorporated into residential schemes through conversion and their heritage significance has been lost. Although the mill is not listed, it is acknowledged by East Cambridgeshire DC (ECDC) Conservation Officer due to its rarity, to be a non-designated heritage asset.

Spencer's Mill before renovation
Spencer's Mill before renovation. © Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network
…as a result of its historic significance and links to the historical development of the town. It is an important remnant of Soham’s industrial heritage. Heritage assets are a finite resource that are irreplaceable once lost and this is an example of one such building that if a scheme and funding cannot be secured, will eventually be lost.
Conservation Officer - ECDC

The Theatre

Viva purchased the building in 2018 and sought funding to appropriately renovate the derelict mill and bring it back to life for the community as a self-sustaining business run by a successful social enterprise.

The Viva Mill Project was born to create a viable, accessible community facility with main auditorium and rehearsal area, upstairs events space (all of which are hireable), a new build foyer/box office area, toilets, gallery, offices, bar and cafe, dressing rooms and backstage/storage areas.

Rare original fittings survive and have together with salvageable materials been incorporated into the renovated building. The building’s heritage is celebrated through innovative interpretation and heritage-linked activity planning.

Take a look at some of informative panels you can see around the building.

Parts of the original Spencer's Mill can still be seen
The project has received support from various funders:
National Lottery Heritage Fund Logo
Cambridgeshire County Council logo
East Cambridgeshire District Council logo
Power to Change logo
The transformation and regeneration of Spencer’s Mill into The Viva Theatre has shaped Viva’s future – it now has a permanent home.

Viva Theatre Seat Sponsors

We would like to thank all our current seat sponsors:
Interested in sponsoring a seat?

Please complete the form below to show an interest in sponsoring a seat. We shall then contact you with further details. If we do not have any seats available, we shall inform you but if requested keep your details on record in case one becomes free in the future.

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