Bright future for ‘blue box’ Century Theatre

February 8, 2023

Leicestershire County Council is delighted to learn that Coalville’s Century Theatre is one of three UK theatres removed from the Theatres Trusts ‘Theatres at Risk’ list.

The Theatres Trust, which campaigns to protect the UK’s theatres, publishes its annual register to highlight theatres which are potentially under the threat of closure or risk of redevelopment.

The council-run entertainment venue was first added to the list back in 2014 following the closure of Snibston Discovery Park. Following a £3m investment to regenerate the area into Snibston Colliery Park the area, which opened in 2020, has thrived to become a family destination highlighting Coalville’s rich history and ecology including heritage and mountain bike trails, a play area, café and Century Theatre itself.

This investment and the commitment to ensure that the Century Theatre became an important part of the refreshed Snibston Colliery Park and local community has given the Theatre Trust confidence in the theatre’s future, leading to its removal from the national ‘at risk’ list.

A unique travelling theatre that toured the country in the post-war years, Century Theatre also spent time Keswick in the Lake District, where it became nicknamed the ‘blue box’ before becoming permanently housed in Coalville in 1997.

The effort to reconnect Snibston with the wider community and secure longer-term benefits for the area was recognised when the park consecutively received Green Flag Awards in 2021 and 2022.
Councillor Lee Breckon, Cabinet member for resources, said:

“This is tremendous news and highlights just how much of a success our investment into Snibston Colliery Park has been.

“We’re delighted that the Theatres Trust have shown faith in the work we have undertaken to the surrounding site to Century Theatre. The regenerated area is a vibrant and popular and as Britain’s oldest surviving travelling theatre its rich history is now being enjoyed by so many people in its permanent location.

“Our team are working hard to continue the long-term success of the Century Theatre, and we’re looking forward to welcoming more visitors for the upcoming shows we’ll be hosting this year.”

Gary Kemp, board member of the Theatres Trust, said:

“It is fantastic to see three significant theatres being removed from the Theatres at Risk list, as a result of campaigning and advice from Theatres Trust as well as the dedication of councils and local communities.

“The Theatres at Risk list is about finding the best use for buildings within their communities, so they can be enjoyed for many years to come, and these three theatres are shining examples of that.”

This quirky theatre, now celebrating its 70th year of success, has a fantastic programme ahead for 2023 with upcoming performances from The Story of Swing, comedian Stephen Bailey (part of Leicester’s Comedy Festival), Tribute to Dolly Parton, Ceri Dupree and many more.

Book tickets and view the full programme on the Century Theatre’s website.

To mark its removal from the “Theatres at Risk” register, BBC Radio Leicester featured the Century Theatre, with the piece available to listen to on the BBC Leicester website.

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