Creative academy takes over The Citadel

Originally known as the Theatre Royal when it opened in 1961, The Citadel in St Helens will now be home to creative educational academy MD Creatives. Tony McDonough reports

The Citadel
The Citadel in St Helens is now home to MD Creatives


Creative educational academy MD Creatives has signed a lease to become the sole tenant of the well-known Citadel Building in St Helens town centre.

MD is taking over the entirety of the 13,000 sq ft building, which is 160 years old, as a base for its arts, music, culture and creative programmes. It is located on the corner of Waterloo Street and Milk Street.

It joins the firm’s other locations in the town centre, it’s headquarters on Barrow Street and the recently acquired space within the former Tyrers department store. The Citadel, which boasts comedian Johnny Vegas as its patron, has seen MD Creatives sign a five-year lease with owner Ian Pitts. 

A public consultation will also take place to give the local community a chance to have a say in what should happen at site. Miguel Doforo, creative director and founder of MD Creatives, said: “For years I have walked past The Citadel and dreamt of working inside of it.

“So to sign a five-year lease here and to have this dream finally turn into a reality is incredible. I’d like to thank Ian Pitts and Chris O’Dea from OD’s designer clothing for making this possible, with Chris acting as our main sponsor for our community projects.

“If you ask anyone in St Helens about The Citadel, they will tell you of their fond memories of this building. I can’t wait for my own creatives to not only create their own long-lasting memories here, but to also perform, learn and excel in a venue that has long been an integral part of this community for well over a century.

Citadel owner Ian Pitts with MD Creatives founder Miguel Doforo


“Not only are we aiming to bring The Citadel back to its former glory, we are also going to be partaking in a public consultation, in order for the town to have a voice on what they want to see at the venue. That is important.”

The Citadel has had a colourful history since it first opened as an arts centre in 1861, when it was known as the original Theatre Royal. Known as The Citadel since the late 1980s, the venue has played host to some of the country’s biggest bands, including The Stone Roses, Cast, The Verve and The La’s. It closed in June 2019.

Ian Pitts, St-Helens based entrepreneur and owner of The Citadel, added: “I have long been an admirer of the work that Miguel and MD Creatives has done in the town, so to be working closely alongside him at The Citadel is really pleasing.

“I have fully bought into his dream of returning this building to its former glory as a hub of all things art, culture and most importantly, opportunity, for the many shining lights of St Helens and beyond.”

Raising the curtain at The Citadel on December 21 with The Journey Through Christmas, MD Creatives will be acting out a never-before-seen festive performance, which will be screened virtually to hundreds of disadvantaged families in the town, as part of St Helens’ annual, One Big Christmas campaign.

MD also plans to host a number of not-for-profit initiatives alongside OD’s at The Citadel, including venue hire, all-inclusive performances and motivational speaking classes to raise aspirations and inspire future generations.

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