Due to open in Prescot in 2022, the Shakespeare North Playhouse will house up to 472 theatregoers and Knowsley Lift Services is to install the lifts. Tony McDonough reports
A Merseyside firm that has established itself as one of the leading lift installation and maintenance firms in the UK has secured a contract at the new Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot.
Due to open in 2022, the theatre will will provide a flexible capacity of between 320 and 472 seats, based on the 17th century ‘cockpit-in-court’ design. It will also boast an inclusive education programme, digital gallery, visitor centre and additional performance spaces including an outdoor performance garden.
Main contractor on the project, Kier, has pledged to offer as much of the work as possible to the local supply chain under the Knowsley Better Together initiative. And Knowsley Lift Services has secured a contract for the supply and installation of the lifts in the new theatre.
It is the latest in a string of high-profile projects for the firm which was founded in 1997 by lift engineers Stephen Fitzgerald and Tommy Murphy. Both had worked together for national firm Express Lifts.
Recent include work on lifts in St George’s Hall and Sefton Park Palm House in Liverpool. And the business also supplied and installed the lifts on the £200m polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough that was built at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead.
Working closely with Kier on the Shakespeare North projects, Knowsley Lifts will oversee the day to day supervision of the lift installation, including managing the installation engineers, logistics, health and safety and project progress.
As part of their NVQ training, the firm will also be allocating their apprentices to work alongside the installation engineers. Stephen Fitzgerald, said: “We are very proud to have secured the Shakespeare lift contract in Knowsley, where our business first started out.
“Over the past two decades we have built a growing reputation for being one of the best independents in the UK, winning a number of prestigious contracts. Our customers keep coming back to us, which is testament to our quality work and our amazing team.”
Alongside high-profile Shakespearean drama, the Playhouse will host a variety of comedy, music and theatre from a wide variety of performers. The fascinating connections between Prescot, Shakespeare and Elizabethan theatre establish the historic foundations for The Shakespeare North Playhouse, which will be one of the North of England’s most high profile cultural and educational assets.
Even before the Playhouse is completed it is already having a significant impact on the local area with new high street businesses moving to Prescot, 1,500 new homes being built and significant investment being made by Knowsley Council in public realm and connectivity improvements.
Alongside the tangible benefits The Playhouse is expected to attract more than 140,000 visitors a year, once established, bringing a boost of more than £5.3m to the local economy (GVA) and a range of employment opportunities directly and indirectly linked to the project.
Carey Oakes, operations director of Knowsley Lifts, added: “Much of our work is very niche and this is where we outperform our competitors. We have great flexibility. We can put a lift in any shaft and a lot of the work we do is not standard.”