Darlington Hippodrome's iconic water tower will be brought into public use for the very first time thanks to funding from Northumbrian Water.

As part of the regeneration of Darlington Civic Theatre – which will reopen in Autumn 2017 as Darlington Hippodrome – the theatre’s water tower will be converted into a new function room and public area, supported by the £40,000 grant that has been facilitated by the Tees Valley Community Foundation.

The money comes from legacy Landfill Tax funds that have been freed up to support community causes.

The newly-restored space will be named the Living Water Room, to reflect both its heritage and the support from Northumbrian Water.

Previously inaccessible to the public, the 64 foot high roofed water tower forms part of the theatre’s distinctive architecture on Parkgate. It was originally used to provide high pressure water for spectacular aquatic scenes that were a popular element of music hall theatre during Edwardian times.

It also operated as a safety facility, offering the opportunity to quickly dowse fires, which were historically a common danger in theatres and a reason why many such buildings were constructed close to fire stations.

The regeneration, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will restore and expand the theatre, which was originally opened in September 1907 as the New Hippodrome and Palace of Varieties. It will increase the community’s ability to use and engage with the theatre, supporting the borough’s culture and arts movement.

Lynda Winstanley, Director of Darlington Hippodrome, said: “We are delighted that Northumbrian Water has chosen to support the Darlington Hippodrome restoration in this way. The backing of local partners is vital in making this project a success and we are excited at the prospect of the iconic water tower becoming a fantastic public space in the new venue.”