Former brickie and now Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, dug out his trowel and helped lay the final bricks on the £27m Shakespeare North Playhouse. Tony McDonough reports
Work on the £27m Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot has reached a major milestone with the final bricks now laid.
Due to open in 2022, construction work on the theatre started in February 2020 and continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. To mark latest milestone Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram was invited to lay some of the final brickwork.
Once complete the Playhouse will also boast an inclusive education programme, digital gallery, visitor centre and additional performance spaces including an outdoor performance garden. It will be a key highlight of Knowsley’s year as Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture in 2022.
Even before it is completed, the Playhouse is already having a significant impact on the local area with new high street business moving to Prescot, 1,500 new homes being built in the area and significant investment in public realm and connectivity improvements.
It is expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors each year once established, bringing an estimated boost of more than £5.3m to GVA and a range of employment opportunities linked to the project.
Mr Rotheram began his career as an apprentice bricklayer and has visited The Playhouse site on many occasions during its development. He said: “It was great to be able to dust off my trowel and lay some of the final brick at the magnificent Shakespeare North Playhouse.
“Our region is the country’s cultural capital, and the new playhouse will give people from across the UK and further afield another fantastic reason to come and visit. It’s going to be a brilliant resource for the local community, especially budding actors and local schoolchildren.”
He was joined on site by Knowsley Council Leader, Graham Morgan and Melanie Lewis, the new chief executive of the Shakespeare North Playhouse who also took part in the final bricklaying.
Ms Lewis added: “The Shakespeare North Playhouse will be such an exciting cultural attraction for Prescot and the Liverpool city region and I am thrilled to be involved in marking this milestone.
“To play a small part in the construction of the building is a real honour and to know that this time next year we will have performances and so much more happening inside the building, is so exciting.”