History of The Castle
In 1988 the Wellingborough Arts Association, a group which represented some 41 arts related associations in the Borough, approached the Borough Council of Wellingborough with the intention of providing a permanent home for the arts within the town. In the same year Wellingborough School was also exploring possibilities of building a theatre on their site in Irthlingborough Road and approached the Council with a view to financial input for shared use with the community. This proposal was rejected by the Council whose combined all party policy gave greater consideration to public discussion on an arts centre for the town. Croyland Park , adjacent to the town's swimming pool, was offered by the Council as a free site to develop. A steering committee was formed with representatives from the Council (one-third minority), Arts Association members, local dignitaries, business people and persons who had expressed an interest about the lack of arts facilities within the borough.
Due to various problems with the site offered by the Council, and partly to the cancellation of plans for inner relief roads, coupled with the Council's desire to instil life into the town centre, the present site, formally the area's cattle market and latterly a supermarket base, became available in early 1992. The Council took a key decision to form a Sub-Committee of the Policy and Resources Committee and act as 'developer' to make the necessary arrangements for finance and construction.
Outline planning consent was obtained, Howard Associates of Northampton were appointed project managers and ACT of Cambridge as theatre planning consultants. After wide consultation with potential users of the building by consultants ARTS, who also advised upon the best means of operating the building, 'The Clients Requirements' were prepared as the basis for the Design and Build tender.
The Clients Requirements were used as the basis for the schemes produced by three short-listed Design and Build contractors who had their headquarters within a 30-mile radius of the site.
The imaginative scheme by architects PDD of Milton Keynes and submitted by builders, Marriott Limited of Rushden was chosen, and a cost of slightly under £3.5 million was allocated to cover all design and building work. This successfully combined the new 500 seat auditorium, foyer bar, brasserie and art gallery with the existing Cattle Market buildings containing an 84 seat studio theatre, rooms for rehearsals and other arts activities together with administrative offices.
1993 - 1995
Building work began in July 1993 and was completed in January 1995. The complex was opened officially by Jeremy Irons on 30th March 1995 in the presence of His Worshipful the Mayor of Wellingborough. The complex has been operating successfully since then, attracting over half a million paying customers during the first ten years of operation. This does not take into account people taking part in workshops, visiting exhibitions, attending meetings, conferences, seminars, touring the backstage facilities or simply using the daily food and beverage operation.
The Council retains responsibility for the maintenance of the fabric of the building and plant, equipment and the majority of the fixtures and fittings within the building.
The staff at The Castle currently consists of 16 full-time staff and approximately 35 part-time staff (see 2. Management and Organisation) headed by the Executive Director.
Our programme of events encompasses all art forms and both professional and amateur work. We also host meetings, seminars, conferences, workshops and masterclasses in both our performance and ancillary spaces.