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Apollo collapse due to old materials

A ceiling collapse at a London theatre that injured 80 people in the audience and forced its closure was caused by the deterioration of century-old cloth and plaster ties holding up timber frames, said Westminster Council.

The Grade II-listed Apollo Theatre, in the West End, will re-open this week for the first time since December 19, when about 10 square yards of plaster fell on the stalls during a performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

Westminster Council confirmed the theatre, which is due to open with a National Theatre Of Scotland adaptation of the vampire movie Let The Right One In, is safe.

The ties, made of hessian and plaster of Paris, were used to lash together timber frames to support the suspended ceiling and had been in place since the theatre opened in 1901.

A council spokeswoman said guidance would be issued to other theatres and historic buildings built with similar materials.

She said: "Our investigation is continuing. However our inquiry to date has led us to understand why the ceiling at the Apollo Theatre failed in December.

"As a result, we have a responsibility for health and safety reasons to issue guidance to owners of historic buildings, English Heritage, the National Trust and others about continuing maintenance of similar ceilings."

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