For the first time in three years Croydon’s Fairfield Halls has officially opened its doors to the public.

Following a multi-million pound makeover the theatre in Croydon has reopened at last for business and looks set to become a major attraction for the town.

Special guests included Dame Judi Dench, who reopened the Ashcroft Playhouse in honour of her friend and Croydon-born actress the late Dame Peggy Ashcroft, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who formally opened the building.

Leader of the council Tony Newman said: “It is a day that I bet the whole of Croydon feels really proud of. It is a monumental day.

“We wanted to restore this building to its former glory and it is about making sure we have this for years to come.”

Cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, Oliver Lewis said: “We are thrilled with the result. Fairfield is really close to peoples hearts in Croydon.

“Everyone has a story of seeing a pantomime here or walking across the stage as a school child. Before it was really on a downhill trajectory so it was really important to restore it.

“I’m really excited to see what it means to Croydon with young people being inspired and older people coming here to reminisce.”

Dami Judi unveiled the People’s Picture, a giant commemorative mosaic by artist Helen Marshall, before taking to the stage in the Ashcroft Playhouse for a live Q and A with broadcaster John Hannam and British author and theatre critic Michael Billington.

During a tour of the new and restored spaces, the Mayor described the revamped venue as ‘amazing’, praising its accessibility with a year-round programme of free entertainment, and new cultural offer which reflects the borough’s rich diversity.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Culture is in the DNA of Croydon, and this fantastic transformation of Fairfield Halls is the perfect example of the exciting creative future that lies ahead for the borough.

"It’s testament to the hard work and vision of the council and all those behind this dynamic project, who share an ambition to make sure the next generation can enjoy the arts.

"They know the arts should be for everyone and the difference it can make to the potential of our young people.”

The venue in Park Lane has been closed since July 2016 for its makeover, which went £10m over-budget, costing £41m.

It was originally due to be open in autumn 2018, but delays in the work saw the re-opening pushed back a year due to the discovery of asbestos in the 60-year-old building.