A NEW live venue at the site of the former Odeon Cinema in Newport is on track to open next month following a £750,000 refurbishment.

The Grade II listed building at Clarence Place went on the market last January and was snapped up by Andy Byers, 35, an electrical contractor who is originally from Bolton.

Having lay vacant for much of the last 35 years, when the cinema showed its last film, The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark, in 1981, the building required extensive refurbishment due to years of water damage.

A team of 30 builders, electricians, plasterers and plumbers have been working tirelessly on the site ahead of the grand opening on February 27, when former X-Factor finalists Rough Copy will perform at the new 2,000 capacity venue.

Playing on the original Odeon (Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation) name, when it opened in 1938, the new building will be called the Neon (Newport Entertains Our Nation).

It is scheduled to show its first film in May, when the two top floors of the four-floor building are completed, and tickets will be priced at £5 per screening.

With one main screen, the Neon will show memorable films from the past as well as offerings from Bollywood.

Speaking ahead of the opening, Mr Byers said a number of curious people have been popping in off the street and he believes the interest is there for the venue to offer a real alternative in the city.

He said: “For us, it’s bringing back the cinema as it was always meant to be.

“Unfortunately a lot of things were damaged and removed in the past and we’re trying to save what is left. It’s all hard work but we’d rather do that than throw it away.

“It was always meant to be a good, cheap night out - rather than just going for a meal - with all the showmanship and service you’d expect."

For more information, visit theneon.co.uk.