A WINCHESTER theatre company has had air conditioning units installed at its historic site in preparation for warmer weather.

Owners of the Chesil Theatre, based on Chesil Street, contracted Winchester-based Air Improve Ltd to install the units concerned audience members would not be able to tolerate performances in stuffy conditions.

Peter Liddiard, building manager for Winchester Dramatic Society, said: “Since 1962 our home has been the Chesil Theatre, in the medieval former church of St Peter’s. Last year, during the extended heatwave, temperatures in the auditorium for the first time reached 34C. This was not only extremely uncomfortable for our audience but also for the actors, who were performing in heavy formal Edwardian attire.

“We are delighted with the installation by Air Improve Ltd, who worked efficiently, quickly, and neatly in our ancient, complex building. We look forward to everyone enjoying a cooler experience next summer.”

Martin Rogers, of Air Improve Ltd, said: “It was certainly a challenge for us to route equipment round the medieval beams and stone work but we feel that installation is very unobtrusive, and was installed with absolutely no alteration to the fabric of this grade II listed building.

“We managed to complete the installation in one day, allowing rehearsals for the next play to continue uninterrupted. Modern energy-efficient air conditioning both heats and cools, ensuring the audience’s comfort all year round.”

The Winchester Dramatic Society has made continual improvements to the medieval building in recent months including having a range of LED lights installed to emit less heat than conventional theatre lights and introduce secondary glazing to minimise street noise.