THE bosses of a historic venue say the future looks bright less than a year after taking over.

Jim Hollands and Lewis Codling, both aged 36, are the latest directors to take over grade II listed theatre The Institute, in Bocking End, Braintree.

Since joining in May 2023, the pair have overseen some major improvements.

According to Jim, when they arrived the “whole building and every room was just full of decades worth of stuff”, so they cleared out as much as possible.

Braintree and Witham Times: Building - The InstituteBuilding - The Institute (Image: Newsquest)

Braintree and Witham Times: Friends - Lewis Codling and Jim HollandsFriends - Lewis Codling and Jim Hollands (Image: The Institute)

The redecorating started, walls were mended and painted, and the flooring of the building was ripped up which revealed a gorgeous original hardwood floor which they sanded down.

The main hall, which can seat 275 people and hold even more when it is used for standing events, had its arches repainted.

A new PA sound system and speakers were put in place as there was no in-house system previously.

Next door to the main hall, a vacant room was turned into a bar.

Braintree and Witham Times: Hallway - The hardwood flooring which was discoveredHallway - The hardwood flooring which was discovered (Image: Newsquest)

Braintree and Witham Times: Grand - The refurbished main hallGrand - The refurbished main hall (Image: Newsquest)

Upstairs, the loft cane be hired and is often used by dance studios, and there is a room currently being refurbished called The Attic which will be available to hire for events from mid February.

Before joining The Institute, Jim and Lewis had theatre backgrounds and have experience putting on events, as well as being talented musicians.

Lewis said they instantly wanted to rise to the challenge after having a tour of the building.

He said: “Once the opportunity was given to us to take over this building, we snapped it up.

Braintree and Witham Times: Exceptional - The view from the stage in the main hallExceptional - The view from the stage in the main hall (Image: Newsquest)

Braintree and Witham Times: Cool - The bar roomCool - The bar room (Image: Newsquest)

“We're working hard to make this space work for the community and us.”

The pair have booked an exciting programme of events this year, including famous comedian Simon Brodkin, music tribute acts, and more.

The main hall is now available to hire as a wedding reception venue and the duo have a “never ending list of aspirations” for The Institute.

Jim said: “What we need now is the support of the Braintree community.

“The best way they can support us and the venue is to buy tickets and come to shows.

“We want it to be an absolute hub for the arts and we want to have people from the community using it every day.”