John Peel Theatre

The Little Theatre at the Heart of Wigton

History of the Building
The theatre building began life as a chapel in the late 19th century. Later it was used as a Salvation Army Citadel.

Wigton Theatre Club was formed in 1952 by Mr Brogden, the head of Wigton Secondary School. In January 1953, they performed
Yes and No, in the school hall. It spent its first ten years putting on plays (usually four a year) in the Secondary School hall, then the Parish Rooms. In 1964 Redmayne’s bought the current theatre building from the Salvation Army, and rented it to the theatre club, giving them substantial help in converting it to a theatre. When the land around the theatre was to be redeveloped in 1988 the club purchased the building in order to ensure its continued use as a theatre.


The first time I ever saw theatre in Wigton, it was performed by people from our local community.  I’m pretty sure it was upstairs in the old Parish Rooms. Wherever it was, I thought it was terrific.  And looking back it added greatly to the richness of what the town had to offer.
Melvyn Bragg
Each successive generation of Wigton Theatre Club members has done its best to improve the facilities for both audience and players, but some dreams were never realised. When the club bought the strip of land next to the theatre, they commissioned plans for an ambitious extension incorporating a large foyer and bar. It proved too expensive, and the work was never carried out.

The current committee, like its predecessors, also wanted to improve the building. When we put on an energetic and youthful production of Toad of Toad Hall in May 2014, one member of our appreciative audience was Councillor Barbara Cannon, the deputy leader of Allerdale. Chatting to her after the show I mentioned that we would really like to improve the theatre by putting in a new foyer and that we had an economical way of doing this, by removing two rows of seats and building a new partition. Although this would be a lot cheaper than building on an extension, it still seemed to us then a bit of an impossible dream. Barbara's offer of financial help, and Alan Smith's subsequent visit and offer of a £5000 grant started the ball rolling. It galvanised us and gave us the incentive and confidence to apply to other funding bodies, as well as working to raise more money through our productions.