January start for Shakespeare North

Knowsley Council’s cabinet has awarded Kier Construction the main contract to complete the £26m Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot.

Kier has been involved in the project since January 2018 when it was appointed to support the design process and deliver the initial enabling works. With this work now completed, this latest decision gives the green light for the main construction of the theatre to start in January.

Ian Tabbron, interim chief executive of Shakespeare North Playhouse, said: “Awarding the contract to Kier is yet another positive sign of progress in our journey to complete the UK’s Shakespearean triangle in Prescot. The vision to create the Shakespeare North Playhouse has been many years in the making and moving into this exciting phase of major construction is a significant achievement.

“The sense of anticipation in the local area is tangible and it will be wonderful to see this project start to come out of the ground early in the New Year.”

The theatre is to be supported by an £8m improvement programme in transport and public realm, which was signed off this February.

When complete the Shakespeare North Playhouse will provide a 350-seat theatre, modelled on the cockpit-in-court design of the 17th century. Alongside the theatre will be an outdoor performance garden, exhibition and visitor centre and educational facilities. Initial enabling works have already been completed on site and the off-site specialist construction of the historic timber-framed theatre is reported as being “well under way”. This will be the centrepiece of the new building and is being manufactured by Peter McCurdy, who gas created previous spaces including the Globe and the Sam Wanamaker Theatre.

Construction on The Shakespeare North Playhouse is expected to be completed in spring 2022, with the first performances scheduled to take place in the summer to coincide with Knowsley’s year as the Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture.

Peter Commins, managing director of Kier Construction (North West), said: “Working on a development as high profile and prestigious as this is an absolute honour and I know I speak for the entire team when I say that we are excited to be able to complete the work we have started here and see this wonderful building come to life.”

The Shakespeare North Playhouse is being funded by Knowsley Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, central government and generous donations from the private and philanthropic sector. This includes the Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation Trust, through the involvement of Lady Anne Dodd.

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!964 National Gas Board regional office. Use left door to pay gas bills. Staff will escort visitors across the motorway upon request. (The two big trees are not enough to hide it.)

By James Yates

Remember when the National Football Museum opened in Preston in 2001 and lasted until 2010?

I think this has echoes of that.

By Aunty Olive

Without a shadow of a doubt this should have been built in Liverpool

Any argument against Liverpool (versus Prescot) would be ludicrous.

By Jack Meyer

Although a replica to the externals too would have been fabulous this is more about the function than the appearance and this theatre will be transformative for Prescot and Knowsley. Tapping into a history long forgotten Shakespeare North will change the image of Knowsley for good, and, with the educational opportunities provided, will give hope and aspirations to many of the Borough’s young people. Well done. I can’t wait to see it open.

By Roscoe

And Prescot is absolutely the right place for this. Shakespeare likely played at the original Prescot Theatre while at Knowsley Hall. And in any case Prescot is more or less part of Liverpool now, even though it was the bigger town 400 years or so ago, with the only theatre outside London. Much of Prescot’s population moved to Liverpool in the 17th and 18th centuries.

By Roscoe

A 350 seat theatre in a town of 11,184 people.
I hope they like their Shakespeare in North Liverpool.

By Doctor

Yeh!!……..they said The Tate in LIverpool would not work, it gets over 600k visits a yearl even with Liverpool having The Walker (3rd most visited art gallery in UK), Build it, and they will come!

By Billy

Prescot is Liverpool … move with the times, the town may have 11k people but it seamlessly blends into continued urban development on all four sides.

By Greater Liverpool

Wrong place. This should be here in Liverpool. Nobody will want to go to Prescot, especially not on a Northern Rail pacer from Lime Street. I’m sure that local people were very grateful when the EU funded arts centres and opera houses but what they really wanted was their sink estate sorted, the potholes filled in, and the drug dealers exterminated. Anyway, opening night will be ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and a few months later we’ll have ‘Comedy of Errors’ followed by ‘Love’s Labours Lost’ and ending with ‘Macbeth’


By Liver lad

The Tate is mostly free and most of the visitors are school kids being forced to go there, pop in during the week and you’ll see.

By Dan

Prescot is in Liverpool ? trolls alert.

By Anonymous

Wow … not too sure on the accuracy or motivation behind some of these comments … prescot is hardly a sink estate … the town is on the up as demonstrated by the new bars and restaurants and the 700 ‘executive’ homes that are being built in the town centre! #confused

By Greater Liverpool

Momentus news for the City Region. What a fantastic asset this is going to be and look at what it is already doing for the City Region, Knowsley and Prescot. A great way to spread the benefits much further beyond just the City Centre. Well done Knowsley Council for keeping the faith.

By For the City Region

Prescot is in Knowsley no matter how hard you squeeze your head

By Diva Fit

As a local resident I think this is great news for Prescot, Liverpool and the North West. I will support it. There’s always someone out there ready to rubbish projects like this. I say, get behind it, support it and stop moaning. Prescot has a lot of history and is on the up. It’s not all about the city.

By Nigel Smith

This area is the perfect location for the theatre with its historic links to Shakespeare. Prescot itself is very much a town on the up, great new restaurants & bars, new homes being built and the THI initiative is doing an amazing job to bring the commercial area up to scratch in an imaginative way http://www.prescotthi.org.uk/ . I don’t know why people cant be happy for an area to get a much needed infusion and read a story like this with optimism. I cant wait for the theatre to open.


Yes its a leap of faith, but you need an anchor in these secondary towns to create a ripple effect ……. not a direct comparison but look what the market hall did for Altrincham.

By Bo

Liverpool Road · L34 3LY Knowsley Park Lane · L34 3LZ Knowsley Park Lane · L34 3NA …

By Anonymous

The Earl of Derby (the guy who lives in Knowsley Hall), sees Prescot and Knowsley as part of Liverpool. He has been backing this and promoting this for a long time and knows that with a Liverpool Knowsley tag the tickets will sell and draw them from far and wide. The Earl’s ancestors had a home at Liverpool Tower for centuries from which he also ruled as King of Mann.

By Liverpolitan

Any of these trolls work for Granada news

By Anonymous

Pinion Bistro in Prescot is losing money though


The issue Dan is that the Tate is a success, just as Shakespeare in Prescot will be.

By Billy

Great news to hear this project is progressing at last -well done Knowsley and Kier . Great news for Prescot and good to see the cultural spread beyond the usual boundaries for the benefit of the wider region !

By HJago

Quit right investment goes somewhere else other than a city centre. We need to support our towns and the local areas to the towns. I’ve already seen the impact it has had on the high street. Restaurants, bars and bakeries all set up and trading well. And the path has been recobbled. Brilliant.

By invest

Looking good. There are 6 million people on the M62 corridor between Liverpool and Manchester.I had my doubts at first but I think this will be a huge success.

By Elephant

Doddy’s been a great provider, again! We miss him and his comedy.

By Steve E

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