THOUSANDS of theatre and film-lovers could soon be flocking to Frodsham as it puts on shows in the park to rival Chester’s much-loved plays.
Hundreds of families travel from across the country to enjoy performances of Shakespeare plays and lap up the summer sunshine during the Open Air Theatre Season in Grosvenor Park in Chester.
Now the Chronicle can reveal Frodsham leaders plan to put on a programme of outdoor plays, festivals and concerts, as well as screening films and sporting events in the grounds at Castle Park, which they hope will rival Chester’s cultural programme and put the market town on the ‘cultural map’.
If given the green light, the cultural regeneration – which is part of the newly formed Frodsham Foundation’s action plan to win the £100,000 Portas Pilot bid – could also see a 60-seater community venue opened in the town, showing films to the public, as early as next year.
Frodsham mayor Andrew Dawson said the group was looking to transform a disused building in the town into a cinema – and that the ideal location would be the former station house.
Cllr Dawson said the grass in the park had been prepared for a performance area in front of the house, but it had never been regularly used.
“The outdoor theatre in Grosvenor Park is always a great success, so if Chester can do it why can’t Frodsham,” said Cllr Dawson.
“Castle Parks is a real hidden gem in the town, and it has real potential for putting on theatre, music and community events.
“When you think about Frodsham and Chester, with our motorway links and train station in the heart of the town, we should see a diversion of people travelling here from Runcorn, Halton and surrounding areas to see our events in the park.”
Cllr Lynn Riley, Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) councillor for Frodsham, said the town had to provide cultural events to stop people travelling to Liverpool, Manchester and Cheshire Oaks to watch films and visit the theatre.
“We have one of the largest parks in Cheshire West on our doorstep, so why can’t we use it for something like this?” she said. “If we put a large picnic on and a screen to watch big events like the Olympics together or show films and stage productions it would be an excellent opportunity to showcase local businesses and show people what a fantastic and vibrant place Frodsham is.”
Cllr Dawson said many of the ideas in the plan would still get the go-ahead even if the town did not win the bid, after Frodsham Foundation received proposed grants totalling £250,000 from local businesses, organisations and CWaC.
“We have very ambitious plans,” added Cllr Dawson. “We do not think we could compete with the Grosvenor programme but we could offer an alternative to be proud of.”