Foundation Trustees were very pleased to be able to underwrite the fundraising element of the new theatre by virtue of Gareth Quarry’s (68-77) primary donation and Brian Saville’s (40-48) generous legacy, alongside the many other donations that have been made by OBs, parents and friends of the school.
The theatre is located in the old Moravian Church on St Peter’s Street – St Luke’s. The new theatre was specifically designed to provide a facility for town use as well as school, in keeping with the School’s and Trust’s desire to work closely with the local community. To see work on the building actually begin, a full five years’ worth of planning after the original purchase from the Moravians by the Harpur Trust in 2008, was a wonderful and an exciting culmination of much hard work.
We are enormously appreciative of the launch donation from Campaign Chairman, and Old Bedfordian, Gareth Quarry (68-77) which enabled the New Theatre project to get started.
The Quarry Theatre At St Luke’s
The name of Bedford School’s new theatre was unveiled as ‘The Quarry Theatre at St Luke’s’. Read the press release here.
The official opening took place on 26th June 2015. Guests including Governors, Old Bedfordians and friends of the school, along with representatives of all the organisations involved in the fantastic development project joined together to celebrate the opening and watch a production of Shakespeare’s Henry V, and the Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Helen Nellis, congratulated the school on the wonderful new space.
Creating the New Theatre
A competitive tendering process saw a local firm – SDC – awarded the contract; they worked with Project Managers Ainsleys and architect Tim Foster, of Foster Wilson Architects.
The historic Grade II former Moravian Chapel, constructed in 1865 and designed by renowned Bedford architect James Horsford, was transformed into a new 280-seat galleried courtyard theatre. Carefully balancing old and new, the modern theatre structure sits sympathetically alongside the original features.
Visitors to the theatre are welcomed into a new light and airy foyer area complete with front-of-house facilities and a flexible teaching and exhibition area. An impressive double-height rehearsal and teaching studio, together with modern staff offices, has been created in the Minister’s House. A contemporary extension around the Chapel Chancel completes the complex, offering a superb hospitality area opening out onto landscaped gardens.
The development involved the installation of innovative stage lighting, sound and studio systems to give both performers and audiences the very best theatre experience.
A Community Focus
With its position at the edge of the school estate and entrance on St Peter’s Road, the theatre is also perfectly positioned to open up the arts to the town. The stunning new facilities are available to charities, schools, groups and individuals from the town for productions, workshops and meetings.
- A 287-seat galleried courtyard theatre
- Light and airy foyer area for teaching and art exhibitions
- Box office and modern staff offices
- Large, double height rehearsal and teaching studio
- State of the art sound, lighting and studio systems
- Foyer bar opening out onto landscaped garden
Miss Gwendoline Gribble, a former Moravian member of St Luke’s, visited the New Theatre Project during its transformation and shared her memories:
Name your Seat
Bedford School Foundation is delighted to offer the opportunity to be part of the theatre by naming a seat. Your donation to the project will be acknowledged by the name(s) of your choice being inscribed on a seat plaque in the new auditorium.
Naming a seat makes the perfect birthday, anniversary or wedding gift. It is a unique and personal way to mark a special occasion, remember a loved one, or celebrate someone dear. Colleagues, relatives or friends could club together to recognise someone special or record an individual’s association with the School.
Plaques can be engraved with the name(s) only, or prefixed by ‘Donated by’, ‘A gift for’ or ‘In memory of’, for a maximum of two people, or a family name, e.g. ‘The Smith Family’.
Click the link below to download the form to make a donation for your seat, and for more information.