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Appeals: The Kirkgate Centre Trust

A view of the proposed Kirkgate Arts Centre in Cockermouth, Cumbria, with All Saints' Church. The Kirkgate Centre Trust has raised pounds 80,000 to begin conversion and conservation work on the two-storey sandstone building, previously a Victorian school in a conservation area, but a further pounds 105,000 is needed to complete the project.

The trust, and many of its supporters, has long felt that Cockermouth needs an arts centre with an auditorium - for visiting theatre companies as well as local groups such as Cockermouth's Amateur Dramatic Society, the Castlegate Singers, the Scottish Dance Society and the Harmonic Society. The trust wants to re-establish a photographic and music society and found a film club. At Kirkgate there is a hammer-beamed first-floor auditorium which will seat up to 160 people. Stage equipment, including seating, a lighting and projection room, and a lift, is still needed.

On the ground floor the trust plans to create a museum which will be dedicated to plotting the history of the town which is well known as Wordsworth's birthplace, and dates back to pre-Roman times. Cockermouth was a medieval market town by royal charter; it is the birthplace of John Dalton, the chemist, and Fletcher Christian, the ringleader in the mutiny on the Bounty; it was virtually self-supporting during the industrial revolution with its tanners, ropemakers and hatters.

The trust hopes the centre will appeal to people of all age groups, both local and visiting, including those with disabilities. A support club for the centre has been formed, with 170 members, and a series of fund-raising events was launched earlier this month. The trust urgently needs to raise funds to finish the project. For further information, contact: Kirkgate Arts Centre Appeal, Brathay Hill, Bassenthwaite Lake, Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 9YB, telephone 07687 76540.

Photograph: Peter Colley

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