£500k restoration plan for historic theatre

Community of resurrection has put in a planning applicatoin to refurbish its ampitheatre.'Guy Laurie and Tony Devine
Community of resurrection has put in a planning applicatoin to refurbish its ampitheatre.'Guy Laurie and Tony Devine

A 19th century open-air theatre could be brought back to life under ambitious plans from a community of monks.

The Quarry Theatre at the Community of the Resurrection, off Stocks Bank Road, Mirfield, has not been used for nearly 40 years. But the community has submitted planning application to Kirklees Council which could see a £500,000 face-lift.

General manager of the community Guy Laurie said: “Basically it’s a restoration job – we’re putting the theatre back to how it used to be.

“This could be a really positive project for the whole of Mirfield.”

The plans include a whole new seated area, with a capacity of 2,000, and a cleanup of the stage and dressing room areas.

The theatre was originally a stone quarry, until the community decided to convert it into a theatre after the monks moved to the site in the 19th century. In its heyday, it hosted speeches from Labour Party founder Kier Hardie and Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst.

It was last used for a performance in 1976, and has since become riddled with undergrowth.

Guy added: “If all goes well we can hopefully we can start work on the theatre as early as February or March next year.

“It will take hard work to have it finished by next summer, and we are always on the lookout for volunteers to help with the refurbishment.

“Eventually, we want schools, drama groups and anyone who wants to use this site. We want to hopefully have a full programme of events there for the summer of 2015.”

An auction will be held early next year to help raise money for the work.

The planning application has been put to officers and a decision is expected to be made by the Heavy Woollen planning sub-committee early next year.