ONE of Britain’s most unlikely musical collaborations is about to be launched between a monumental cultural centre and a tiny launderette.

Ushaw Historic House and Gardens has joined forces with The Old Cinema Launderette, in Durham, to stage a range of musical events across the two contrasting venues.

The Old Cinema Launderette, in Marshall Terrace, Gilesgate, was launched by enterprising couple Richard and Kathy Turner eight years ago.

The building was originally opened as The Crescent Cinema, with 320 seats, in 1928, before being renamed The Rex in 1941. The last film to be staged there was the action-packed Eagle Squadron, starring Robert Stack and Leif Erickson.

It continued screening films until closing in January 1958. Later uses included being a bingo hall and tool hire shop before the Turners transformed it into a retro launderette and coffee shop.

Richard and Kathy brightened up the launderette with movie memorabilia and started staging musical events within nine months of opening. Now, the building is entering a new era by collaborating with Ushaw, a former seminary for training priests.

Retired mental health nurse Richard, alias MrWishyWashy, said: “We only have capacity for 55 people, so we were looking for a collaboration with a bigger venue and Ushaw seemed like the perfect opportunity.”

Ushaw’s commercial director, Jonathan Ward, added: “It’s the coming together of two very quirky – but two very different – venues. We are worlds apart in many ways but share a common bond in having a passion for staging musical events in an unusual setting.

“We are happy to talk to anyone, and when Richard got in touch with the idea, we were intrigued to see how the collaboration might develop. The aim is to cross-promote musical events in all kinds of genres and it’s really exciting.”

The collaboration gets underway at 7pm on Wednesday when acclaimed classical pianist Alex Chisholm-Loxley stages a concert amongst the washing machines and dryers.The partnership has also led to a performance at Ushaw on March 7 by Yorkshire folk due O’Hooley and Tidow who have shot to fame after writing the theme tune for BBC hit drama Gentleman Jack.