Storyhouse is finally here and will open its doors to the public on Thursday, May 11 and become a must-see destination for the whole of the area.

However, it has been a long road to get to this point - a journey which arguably began when the Gateway Theatre closed a decade ago before the scheme to provide a new venue for the city stalled badly with the economic crisis in 2008.

But eventually, the theatre project was revived and here we take a look at the key dates which led to the moment when the city’s £37m cultural centre became a reality.

2012 - Cheshire West and Chester Council reveal vision to transform the derelict city centre Grade 2 listed Odeon into a theatre and cinema.

Proposed theatre on the old Odeon site

January 2013 - Graham Lister- project director appointed.Work commences to clear the land adjacent to the Odeon including demolition of the multi- storey office block commerce house.

February 2013 - Initial excavation works reveal two Roman roads inside the main Odeon building, located 12 inches below ground.

Review of the year, 2013: Dan Garner (project manager for LP Archeology) with part of a Roman heating brick used in a hyper course system to heat walls and floors. The item was found inside one of the archeology trenches inside the Odeon cinema. Front cover February 21, 2013
Dan Garner (project manager for LP Archeology) with part of a Roman heating brick used in a hyper course system to heat walls and floors. The item was found inside one of the archeology trenches inside the Odeon cinema

June 2013 - Cheshire West and Chester Council launch a revised plan to create a fully integrated cultural centre, where literature, film and theatre co-exist. The Odeon building would be refurbished and doubled in size to provide theatre, cinema, library and restaurant spaces. Chester Performs (Storyhouse’s former name) identified as preferred end-user to work alongside the library service and the council to develop the project.

Demolition work has started on the rear wall of the former Odeon building as part of the project to create Chester's new theatre
Demolition work starts on the rear wall of the former Odeon building

July 2013 - Arts Council England announce a £3m capital funding grant for project.

October 2013 - Multi-discipline design and construction team appointed, led by Kier Northern and including Stirling Prize-nominated architects Bennetts Associates and award-winning theatre planners, Charcoalblue. Work commences on a detailed design.

March–April 2014 - Public consultation programme throughout the borough reveals 98% approval of the architectural scheme.

September 2014 - Planning approval granted.

October–December 2014 - 12 week archaeological dig commences to safeguard valuable archaeological remains and to carry out detailed underground investigation to ensure the highly complex underground foundation design was going to be possible. During this period remains dating back to the Bronze Age are discovered.

Picture by Mark Carline

October – December 2014 - Pre-contract demolition works commence to remove the original Odeon stage house areas and continue to carry out detailed survey work to fully determine the structural integrity of the building. Full site is quarantined in order to remove asbestos from main Odeon areas.

January 2015 - Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet provides full approval to enter into contract with Kier construction. Cost of project estimated at £37m.

February 2015 - Construction commences. Clearance from the old Odeon began, with rubble being sorted ready for recycling. Over 1,800m2 of existing brickwork repointed using reclaimed bricks.

Picture by Mark Carline

March 2015 - UK credit card experts and major local employer MBNA commit £600,000 to capital project. Open doors weekend, during March 7-8 the project team opened the doors of the site to members of the public for the first time, giving them an opportunity to see the beginnings of the new cultural centre as it started to rise from the ground.

May 2015 - Alex Clifton appointed as artistic director. Outer skin of building finished, making it weather tight, allowing internal construction work to commence.

June 2015 - Installation of the 55m high tower crane. A major milestone in the project’s development, the crane was used to install all of the steel work for the building.

July 2015 - New construction visible above ground level for the first time.

The interior of the old main screen of the Odeon showing some of its original features which are going to be retained in the new Chester cultural centre. Picture by Mark Carline
The interior of the old main screen of the Odeon showing some of its original features. Picture by Mark Carline

August 2015 - Theatre fly tower installed.

October 2015 - Naming consultation begins. Branding agency True North in Manchester appointed to coordinate comprehensive brand and naming process involving a range of stakeholders including the public.

March 2016 - Building named as Storyhouse.

May 2016 - The steel superstructure of the shell of the extension reached its full height. A large mobile crane arrived, which put together the prefabricated sections of the giant roof trusses spanning the extension.

July 2016 - Cinema lightbox constructed using of 85 tons of plaster.

Politicians, theatre managers, business people and residents went on a tour around the under-construction Storyhouse cultural centre this week. Picture: Mark Carline

September 2016 - Seats installed in theatre.

November 2016 - Copper cladding installed.

December 2016 - Project wins prestigious award as it is celebrated as an exemplary way of working in partnership.

January 2017 - Energy supplies and floorboards installed, painting completed across dressing rooms, green room, public spaces.

February 2017 - Cinema seats installed, library bookshelves installed, storytelling room created.

March 2017 – Practical completion. A major milestone in project as Storyhouse signage is installed on exterior of the Odeon tower. Crowds gathered to witness the moment.

The cafe-bar area below and the cinema box above within the original Odeon building at Chester's Storyhouse cultural centre, which opens on May 11.

April 2017 - Odeon’s iconic Art Deco canopy is reinstalled.

May 2017 - Over 300 school children and community organisations gather in Northgate Street in order to carry 3,000 childrens’ books from the former city library to the brand new Storyhouse library. The hoardings that have dominated the site for over three years are removed revealing the glass, brick and copper exterior of the brand new extension and the reinstated Odeon building.

May 11 - Doors open to the public.

Countdown to curtain up

Storyhouse opens in

loading...