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.