John Peel Theatre

The Little Theatre at the Heart of Wigton

Our Next Production:
A Midsummers Night's Dream

Tickets available online

Book now
or by phoning 01697 424624

President: Melvyn Bragg



Our Facilities:

Proscenium arch theatre

90 raked seats

Wheelchair access

Induction loop

Licensed bar

Real coffee

Ice cream & snacks


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Registered Charity No: 1178881

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Timeline of the Wigton Theatre Group
  • 1884

    John Peel Theatre building built

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    The stone reads:

    12 DEC - 1884

    The Herald reported on Saturday 13th December 1884:
    "Opening of a Salvation Army Barracks at Wigton.
    Yesterday afternoon (Friday Dec 12th 1884) Mr Isaac Pattinson, of Westmorland House, laid the foundation stone of a new Salvation Army barracks at Wigton, and an address was given by Mr J.N.Carr. Afterwards a tea meeting was held in the Market Hall, followed by a great night march."

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    The date stone

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    The Salvation Mission Hall in 1911. An early picture of the building interior.

    The Salvation Army in Wigton fundraised and commissioned the building. The foundation stone was laid in 1884 and the topping out stone is dated 1885. One member, Mr William J Carrick was particularly active in driving the project.

    From The Wigton Advertiser, October 25th 1884:

    The work of designing (the building) was entrusted to Mr Robert Atkinson, of West Street; plans were prepared by him and submitted to the Local Board, and these were approved.
    Through the kindness of Mr Isaac Pattinson (Westmorland House) an excellent site has been secured adjoining the premises of Mr Redmayne, and it is arranged to erect thereon a plain neat building (all architectural display being dispensed with) suitable for the holding of meetings similar to those in vogue in the Salvation Army.
  • 1888

    William J. Carrick died

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    W.J. Carrick was a key member of the Wigton Salvation Army corps and was a key player in the commissioning of the building. Information about his memorial can be found on our Memorial Stone page.
  • 1937

    Mission Hall refurbished

    From The Wigton Advertiser Saturday November 6th 1937:
    Re-opening of the Wigton Salvation Mission

    Course all clear for Winter’s work

    The earnest workers at the Wigton Salvation Mission are entering upon the winter’s good work in pleasanter surroundings. The interior of the hall has undergone much-needed decoration at the hands of Mr Sanderson, and the re-opening meeting on Tuesday night found the hall filled with people of all denominations. It was a hearty meeting under the genial chairmanship of Mr. William Iveson. …

    The Chairman expressed the pleasure it gave him to declare the Mission Hall re-opened after its ‘Spring cleaning’, towards which all the members had contributed in some way.
  • September 1952

    Wigton Theatre Club is formed

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  • January 1953

    Club’s first performance

    They performed Yes and No, in Wigton Secondary School hall.
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    Original Script from Wigton Theatre Club's first production
  • May - September 1958

    Wigton Theatre Club moves to St Mary's Parish Rooms (later Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witness)

    From Phil Martin (via Facebook): The mention of the new lighting in the [newspaper] report revives vivid memories of my dad building all the lighting kit at home to use in the club’s new venue. He used Carr’s biscuit tins, painted matte black and fixed together into various banks for footlights, overhead spot lights etc., coloured perspex(?) sheets for the effects, and a whole stack of switches, dimmers and other equipment sourced from Strand Electrics. The photo shows him with Tom Hadwin and John Housby demonstrating the new control panel.
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  • 1964

    The club moves to the John Peel Theatre

    Redmayne’s bought the current theatre building from the Salvation Army, and rented it to the theatre club for a nominal fee.
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    Theatre interior after its conversion in 1964
  • 1988

    Wigton Theatre Club buys The John Peel Theatre

    The land around the theatre was to be redeveloped in 1988, so the club purchased the building in order to ensure its continued use as a theatre.
  • 2000

    New corridor and toilets

    The theatre club refurbished the toilets and roofed over the side alleyway making an indoor route to the toilets and a much more comfortable experience for audiences.
  • 2007

    Stage rebuild

    The theatre stage was completely rebuilt.
  • 2008

    Dry rot!

    Extensive dry rot was discovered in the theatre and major work was carried out to eliminate it.
  • January 2015

    Weekly theatre skills workshops start

    Established for young club members to attend classes to prepare them for taking part in performances. The workshop rapidly became popular and has a long waiting list.
  • February - April 2015

    Major theatre refurbishment

    Arts Council and Allerdale District Council grants (along with others - see sponsors page) enabled a major refurbishment. The removal of two rows of seats allowed for an ambitious project which reopened one of the original windows and moved the internal corridor wall back to create a welcoming bar area. A new, larger and easily accessible technical box was built. Club members also cleaned, repaired and painted all of the seats and repainted the theatre interior.
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  • May 2015

    New website launched

    Yes, this one!
  • July 2015

    Open Mic Nights start

    A regular Open Mic Night was established and quickly became popular.
  • 2016

    Exterior signage redesigned and replaced

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  • 2016

    Theatre sound system upgraded

    Thanks to a generous donation of equipment from Long Meg Band, the theatre received a complete upgrade of its sound system,enabling it to more easily cope with the increasingly technical demands of visiting bands and open mic nights.
  • February 2017

    Winners of Cumbria Life’s Culture Awards - Amateur Society of the Year

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  • August 2017

    Club performs its first Shakespeare play

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    In August 2017 Wigton Theatre Club put on its first Shakespeare production. Romeo and Juliet was performed with a black box stage and minimalist, modern setting. The production was well received by large and enthusiastic audiences.
  • October 2017

    Winners of a Marks and Spencer Energy Fund Grant

    Wigton Theatre Club won a grant of £12,000 to install solar panel to improve the comfort of the building and preserve its fabric.
  • November 2017

    Lighting system upgraded

    Thanks to a very generous grant of £2396 from Wigton Coop, the club purchased LED parcans, 2 intelligent moving heads and a new Avolites Titan One virtual lighting console.
  • December 2017

    Stage improvements

    Stage working and wing lights were upgraded and stage storage access improved with the addition of doors at the front of the stage.
  • January - February 2018

    Backstage improvements

    Work continued on improving dressing rooms, props, tools and costume storage started in 2017.
  • March 2018

    Solar panels installed

    Thanks to the M&S energy grant, the theatre can now be kept warm and dry through the coldest months and the theatre is more comfortable for members and audiences.
  • July 2019

    New doors for the theatre

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  • August 2019

    Theatre roof repaired

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  • September 2019

    Refurbished seats and new flooring

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    The original seats (estimated to be around 100 years old) were looking very shabby. Around 60 of the original seats were sympathetically restored, to return them to their former splendour whilst maintaining their history.

    The remaining seats are modern linked seats, commissioned to fit with the original seats. They allow for more flexible seating and performance space and can be removed to create a dance floor.
  • March 2020

    Theatre closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic

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    For the first time in its history, the John Peel Theatre shut its doors for live performances, along with every other theatre in the country; amateur and professional.

    Work was carried out during the closure to refurbish the toilets, green room and the theatre's sound system, whilst play readings, some social events and Open Mic Nights (from June 2020) moved onto Zoom.
  • June 2020

    Virtual Open Mic Nights start via Zoom

    These grow in popularity and have attendees from all over the UK, Ireland, Canada and the United States.

    At Christmas, The John Peel Zoomers collaborated on a cover of The Fairytale of New York, produced by Ian Kellett. It has had over 7000 views to date.
  • 2020/ 2021

    Toilets refurbished

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    During the enforced Coronavirus shutdown, the old toilets were completely torn out and replaced with fully enclosed unisex toilets, including a special baby changing station and a fully compliant accessible toilet.
  • 2021

    Green room kitchen and cast toilet updated

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  • December 2021

    New box office built in the theatre foyer

    A new box office was built to house our brand new online ticket sales system and provide facilities for selling printed tickets at the theatre for the first time.
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    The box office in development

  • October 2022

    New Balcony

    Balcony built onto the stage for Romeo and Juliet but as a permanent structure to use in future productions.
  • November 2022

    First set of solar batteries installed

    After successful grant applications and generous donations from the public, we were able to install our first set of solar batteries - just in time for the winter bills!