Work to begin on Dearne Playhouse renovation

Work to transform the historic Dearne Playhouse Theatre and create new opportunities for the community is due to begin next month.

The project is part of the Goldthorpe Town Deal, which secured £23.1 million investment from the UK Government’s Towns Fund to help regenerate, renew and revitalise Goldthorpe, Thurnscoe and Bolton upon Dearne. Of this, £3 million was allocated for a Community and Cultural Hub, which centres on the Dearne Playhouse, formerly the Goldthorpe Miners Welfare.

The aim of the Community and Cultural Hub project is to restore and enhance the historic building and provide new spaces and facilities for the local community. The project aligns with our aim under the Principal Towns and Local Centres Programme to give Barnsley people the chance to be involved in inspiring and uplifting artistic and cultural experiences.

The first phase of the works, completed last year by local contractor O&P Construction, involved installing a new roof, upgrading the theatre equipment, and replacing the sound and lighting systems and curtains.

Now, the second phase of the works, also to be carried out by O&P Construction, will include a complete refurbishment of the basement, creating a new community space and a music rehearsal space that will be open for bookings. The ground floor will also be redecorated, the stonework at the entrance will be repaired, and an accessible entrance to the basement will be installed.

The third and final phase of the works will focus on improving the Welfare Park and providing additional parking to benefit the whole area, including the Lift Centre, the Dearne and District Football Club, and the IKIC Centre (I Know I Can).

The theatre, which was originally the Miners’ Welfare and has been a key part of the cultural life of the area for 100 years, hosted the Heart of the Wood project last year. This was a creative initiative that engaged young people in storytelling and the arts.

Matthew Stephens, the chairperson of the Goldthorpe Town Deal board, said: "We are delighted to see the progress of the Community and Cultural Hub, which will be a fantastic asset for Goldthorpe and the wider area. The project will not only preserve the heritage of the building, which has been there for 100 years, but also create new opportunities for the community, especially the young people, to get involved in the arts and culture.

“The Playhouse hosted the Heart of the Wood in December, which gave young performers from across the area the chance to be creative and enjoy attending or performing at the theatre. We hope Heart of the Wood has created a legacy and will be a catalyst to encourage young people to be creative and enjoy what this Cultural Hub has to offer.”

Julie Medlam, Theatre Manager at the Dearne Playhouse, said: “The first phase of works has already made a massive difference to the theatre, and we are excited about all the internal works that will happen this year. This will help us realise our dream and vision for the theatre to really widen future community engagement.”

The Town Deals programme aims to regenerate towns and deliver long-term economic and productivity growth.  

This is through investments in urban regeneration, digital and physical connectivity, skills, heritage and enterprise infrastructure. The Towns Fund has already delivered the new Horse and Groom Town Square in the heart of Goldthorpe. Other projects include new sustainable housing, improvements at Phoenix Park, and work to unlock economic development and create new jobs.

The Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities offered Town Deals to all 101 places that submitted proposals, with more than £2.35 billion of investment across more than 700 projects nationally.  

Towns Fund investment in Goldthorpe, Thurnscoe and Bolton upon Dearne supports Barnsley Council’s investment work in Principal Towns and Local Centres, which is helping local high streets thrive across the borough. 

See for more information. For more information about the Dearne Playhouse, visit


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