PLANNERS have given the Community of the Resurrection in
Mirfield permission to restore a derelict open-air theatre.
The theatre, built in a former quarry in the community's
grounds, once hosted speakers such as Keir Hardie and Emmeline
Pankhurst. It was also where the Mirfield-born actor Sir Patrick
Stewart made one of his earliest stage appearances.
The natural amphitheatre was created more than a century ago,
when stone was quarried to build houses near by. It was turned into
a theatre by the community soon after it was established there in
1898, and used for sermons, Bible classes, plays, and political
meetings. Originally, it accommodated audiences of up to 6000, but
it was abandoned in 1976, and fell into disrepair.
Last week, Kirklees Council approved a £500,000 restoration. It
includes recycled plastic seating, a grassed picnic area, and a
retractable rain-cover over the stage.
The Superior of the Community, Fr George Guiver CR, told the
Huddersfield Daily Examiner: "We need to make the most of
our income and make the site pay. That is the modern way. This
could be a really remarkable facility for Mirfield, and we want to
invite the community back."
The Brothers hope to stage 14 performances a year - all matinées
- between May and September, for audiences of up to 750. Schools
will be encouraged to stage shows, as well as professional and
The general manager at the Community, Guy Laurie, said that
talks had been held with various groups, including Opera North,
Huddersfield Choral Society, and Huddersfield University. "We made
contact to see if there was a genuine interest in bringing the
theatre back to a working life," he said. "We didn't want it to be
a museum piece, but a venue that has a real relevance today."
Eric Firth, a Kirklees councillor, described the venture as "a
The Community, which now has 18 Brothers, shares its life with
the College of the Resurrection - the theological college which has
30 resident students training for the priesthood - and a retreat
In recent years, it has raised more than £900,000 to modernise
its premises, much of it from auctions of donated and redundant
artefacts. The next auction, on 29 March, will help to raise funds
for the theatre restoration.