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Home About Us History and Heritage

Theatre history

Home About Us History and Heritage


In 1959, silk merchant Sir Nicholas Sekers bought the interior of a tiny Whitehaven music hall, shipped it to his barn, and invited celebrated stage and film designer Oliver Messel to transform it into a theatre. Thus was born the 'rose-red, silk-lined jewel box' that has surprised and delighted generations of visitors to Rosehill.

Sekers made Rosehill a home to some of the greatest performers and composers of the day, including Peggy Ashcroft, John Gielgud, Jacqueline Du Pré, John Betjeman, Yehudi Menuhin, Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears and Rostropovich.

Soon, edgier performers made their creative home at Rosehill, such as a young David Bowie, who played here with his partner and inspiration, Lindsay Kemp, while he was incubating Ziggy Stardust.

More recently, Rosehill has experienced its own remarkable transformation.

In 2017 we completed an ambitious £3m redevelopment, which refurbished the 'jewel box' theatre, vastly improved backstage facilities, made the whole building more accessible, and introduced the much-loved restaurant, The Green Room.

In September 2019, Rosehill celebrated its 60th birthday, more vibrant than ever and with exciting plans for the future.

Rosehill is a significant force for socio-economic change in West Cumbria, whose ambition and commitment we applaud and share. High quality arts activity, combined with rigorous skills training in the excellent restaurant make Rosehill an important driver of inclusive growth and a hub for wellbeing in West Cumbria. We are delighted to be working together to create long-term social value and enable our communities to thrive.
Jamie Reed, Head of Corporate Affairs, Sellafield


We are grateful to the following organisations for capital funding:

We are grateful to the following organisations for revenue funding:


We are grateful to the following organisations for their in kind support: