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Home News Rosehill's diamond day

Rosehill's diamond day

Home News Rosehill's diamond day
Miki Sekers and builders - 1959 Miki Sekers and builders - 1959

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Rosehill Theatre celebrates its 60th birthday today (3 September 2019).

The team have been reflecting on the theatre's fantastic story and looking ahead to new, exciting developments, including the return of film screenings in the autumn and the proposed addition of a courtyard theatre!

Rosehill was founded by Hungarian businessman Sir Nicholas Sekers, who came to England in 1937 on a UK regeneration grant to set up the West Cumberland Silk Mills – later Sekers Fabrics in Hensingham. He loved the performing arts and was a founder trustee of Glyndebourne, the opera house in East Sussex. Backed by the local business community and many individuals, ‘Miki’, as he was known, set up an arts trust in 1958 to open a new theatre.

He converted a Georgian barn in the grounds of his home, Rosehill House (now a residential care home), and had bought the interior of the Royal Standard, an old music hall in Whitehaven, hoping to incorporate it into the new theatre but it wasn’t possible. He then turned to his friend Oliver Messel, one of Britain’s leading theatre and film designers, to produce a scheme for the interior – hailed on its opening on 3 September 1959 as a "rose-red silk-lined jewel box".

In its six decades, Rosehill has presented a host of great names from the world of theatre and music, including Peggy Ashcroft, John Gielgud, Jacqueline Du Pré, John Betjeman, Benjamin Britten, Joyce Grenfell, Lindsay Kemp, a young David Bowie, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine, Stacey Kent, Paul Lewis, Steven Osborne, Alison Balsom, Nigel Kennedy, Yehudi Menuhin… the list goes on! Many were accommodated in Rosehill House, where the Sekers’ hospitality was legendary.

The list of VIPs has also included Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who opened the new West Cumberland Hospital in the morning of 21 October 1964 and visited Rosehill in the afternoon.

The theatre closed for a £3m redevelopment in October 2014, with performances continuing through the Rosehill on the Road programme. The building’s transformation, which included the introduction of a first-floor restaurant, The Green Room, and the sympathetic restoration of the Grade II listed auditorium, was previewed in April 2017 by HRH The Prince of Wales and opened in the summer.

Rosehill director Richard Elder said: “Over the years we have continued to build on our reputation for delivering a varied programme including music, drama, comedy, craft and other workshops, school performances, family events and more. And with a new building that is fit for purpose we can explore even more opportunities to bring top-class entertainment to West Cumbria.”

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: