The transformation of Whitby Hall into a world class centre, specialising in high quality arts and culture for children, young people and their families, will improve levels of aspiration and general health and wellbeing by providing a new, wide-ranging and inspirational programme for all.

November 2021

Cassidy + Ashton has been appointed as the architectural delivery partner on the construction of a new state-of-the-art theatre at Whitby Hall, Ellesmere Port.

The new extension, designed by the Manchester studio of London-based architects Bennetts Associates, whose work includes the award-winning Chester Storyhouse, will provide performance space for Arts Council funded, Action Transport Theatre.

It is part of the extensive refurbishment and remodelling of Whitby Hall, a former Victorian stately home, to create a creative centre specialising in high quality arts and culture for children, young people and their families.

The project is funded through capital investment from Cheshire West and Chester Council, and Arts Council England. Action Transport Theatre was also awarded an £82,476 Capital Kickstart grant towards the new theatre, as part of the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Read more > Cassidy + Ashton lands architect delivery role on £2.5m Ellesmere Port culture project

July 2021

The extenstion has gone!

Building work has reached a new milestone with the demolition of the 1960’s/70’s extension to Whitby Hall and the laying of the 1st foundation stones for the new state of the art theatre and cultural venue, designed to overlook beautiful Whitby Park.

Over the last few months contractors have been on the ground, preparing for the new build which is overseen by award winning architects, Bennetts Associates.

The low-ceilinged extension built in the late 60’s early 70’s was in recent years used as our studio theatre, a place for all of our activity with children, young people, schools, families and community groups. Prior to this, from the 1930’s, the extension was used as the council offices and chambers having being gifted to the council by the Grace Family.

The well-used and loved building had fallen into a state of disrepair over many years despite the increase in activity in the time it has been ATT’s home.

Capital investment from Cheshire West and Chester Council and Arts Council England has ensured that the building will not only be fit for purpose for the local community but also a unique destination place for audiences from across the region and beyond. The new modern venue will boldly contrast the historic hall and cater for a wide variety of uses, including an ambitious participation programme, performances, films and live streaming, including NT live. 

The new building will help us strengthen our local, regional and national position as a specialist theatre company, shining a light for the creativity and talent of children and young people.

Latest - May 2021

Following completion of the roof and initial repairs to the exterior, the next phase of building work is due to start on May 24th 2021. The estimated 40 week building project is led by Engie and we couldn’t be more excited that work is back underway.

Latest - January 2021

Following the great news in December about our Capital Kickstart grant - work continues behind the scene on our capital programme with building work at Whitby Hall set to continue in Spring 2021.

The aim is that our new theatre and cultural centre in Ellesmere Port will significantly contribute to Covid recovery, positioning a new programme of arts and culture for local people, especially children, young people and families. Further updates will appear here and keep your eyes peeled on our social media channels for further information.

Latest - December 2020

Action Transport Theatre has been awarded a £82,476 Capital Kickstart grant as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund enabling the organisation to push forward with our transformation project despite the financial challenge caused by the Covid-19 crisis. 

We are one of 74 organisations receiving grants totalling £58.9 million. The Capital Kickstart grants programme helps organisations cover costs added to capital projects such as building works, refurbishments, and large-scale equipment purchases by pandemic-related delays or fundraising shortfalls.  

Nina Hajiyianni - Artistic Director/CEO, Action Transport Theatre said:

"We are extremely grateful for crucial government support made possible through the Culture Recovery Fund and Capital Kickstart programme, our award will mean that we can successfully deliver our transformational capital programme for Whitby Hall, our much loved but run-down building in Ellesmere Port, along with vital investment provided by Cheshire West and Chester Council.  The disruption and impact of Covid on our planned programme was presenting huge financial challenges and we are so pleased that we can look forward to 2021 with increased confidence and excitement.”

Read more about it here...

Latest - April 2020

During the last three months the project has made progress, most notably achieving planning permission in February 2020.

In co-operation with Bennetts Associates (the architect) and Engie (the main building contractor) we have been working towards RIBA Stage 4 which as well as creating a much clearer vision or the interior, gives us a level of detail to be able to put the various elements of the work out to tender for potential contractors and suppliers.

Unfortunately Coronavirus and the subsequent impact on all areas of life has significantly slowed our progress, however, we are continuing with RIBA Stage 4 planning and aim to share some of these updated images in the coming months.

Whilst the pandemic continues there will obviously be some delay to the build start date - but Action Transport Theatre and our partners Arts Council England and Cheshire West and Chester Council remain committed to achieving the vision for Whitby Hall.

December 2019 / January 2020

The proposed development will cost in the region of £2.5 million which has been secured through funding from Cheshire West and Chester Council and Arts Council England. Over the coming weeks, the design work will be completed up to RIBA Stage 3 and the scheme is submitted for planning.

What's happening?

Action Transport Theatre are preparing to carry out an ambitious project which will see the transformation of locally listed Whitby Hall into a world class centre, specialising in high quality arts and culture for children, young people and their families.

The project will transform Whitby Hall from a tired, run-down building into a welcoming, accessible and inspiring arts and cultural centre, which will create a sustainable operating model for Action Transport Theatre; broadening, strengthening and consolidating their position as one of the North of England’s key cultural assets.

An award-winning team which includes architects Bennetts Associates and main contractor Engie are appointed to design and construct the project. An exciting, modern scheme has been developed to accommodate the future aspirations of Action Transport Theatre.

You are invited to view the designs and proposals for the building and provide us with feedback through the online questionnaire.

About the transformation

In response to the recent growth and success of Action Transport Theatre and in the context of Ellesmere Port’s wider regeneration, a scheme has been developed to transform Whitby Hall into a world class centre specialising in high quality arts and culture for children, young people and their families.

Action Transport Theatre is a professional, specialist young people’s theatre in Cheshire; it has a national reputation for creating high quality touring work for children and family audiences, and engages local young people who would otherwise have little or no access to artistic or cultural activities.

The improved arts and cultural centre will support the expansion of Action Transport Theatres programme of activities and allow the theatre to engage with partner organisations to bring a rich range of arts and community activities into the building, including yoga, photography, dance, visual arts and music. Additionally, the project will address the current costly maintenance issues of Whitby Hall; the proposed flexible-use workshop spaces will help to generate further revenue

The transformation directly supports Cheshire West and Chester’s cultural strategy for the region. More locally, Whitby Hall and Action Transport Theatre will work strategically with local organisations in Ellesmere Port to support a broad programme of activities across the town, providing opportunities for cultural engagement to all.

You can find out more on the Public Transformation Boards.