Kirkgate Quarter Chronicle : April 2022

Welcome to #Kirkgate’s April newsletter. With the longer days and warming air we hope to entice more of you out to some of our exciting offerings this month!

And to encourage you to mark the change in season and stretch those limbs after hibernating, we’re featuring our twice-weekly Pilates class in this month’s KQC. We also hear from one of our favourite local bakeries, Coffee Kitchen in Market Place, who always come up with some irresistible Easter treats, and our volunteer of the month sets out the stall for Cockfrock in May. Your chance to stock up your wardrobe with summer fashions is just around the corner!


You can search our website by category or date to find what tickles your fancy, but here’s our top selection for the next few weeks. All shows at the Kirkgate Centre, Cockermouth, unless otherwise stated:


Friday, 22 April, 8pm The Rheingans Sisters
The Rheingans Sisters make playful, powerful and richly connecting music that is wholly contemporary while deeply anchored in folk traditions. You might recognise Rowan, from her work with the superb vocal trio Lady Maisery.
The award-winning multi-instrumentalists, composers and folk scholars were nominated for ‘Best Duo/Group’ at 2019 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Sunday, 24 April, 7.30pm Jazz@Kirkgate: Dean Masser – A Salute to Dexter Gordon
Saxophonist Dean Masser (Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, BBC Big Band) plays the music of the legendary Dexter Gordon. With a top class rhythm section of Richard Wetherall (keys) Steve Berry (double bass) and Caroline Boaden (drums) this is sure to be a swinging affair!


Routes to Classics
Gus Glynn’s new one man show traces the development of the music we love today from its roots in traditional folk and blues to contemporary classics and all-time favourites. The show presents traditional folk and blues along with contemporary classics from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Carole King, Christy Moore, Mark Knopfler and Lou Reed.

Friday, 22 April, 7.30pm – Ravenglass
Saturday, 23 April, 7.30pm – Ullock
Sunday, 24 April, 7.30pm – Millom

More details at


The Kirkgate cinema shows the weekly film on Mondays 8pm, Wednesdays 2pm (socially distanced seating) and Fridays 7pm. Friday night is also Fermento Pizza Night, with piping hot, freshly made deliveries to the Kirkgate bar from the Market Place eaterie. Order direct with Fermento on 01900 826655 once you’ve bought your film ticket. 

11-15 April West Side Story (12A) – Stephen Spielberg’s dazzling take on the game-changing musical, with an Oscar-winning performance from Arianna deBose.

18 – 23 April Belfast (12A) – This week, Friday’s screening is on Saturday. Don’t miss this Oscar-winning film from Kenneth Branagh with a full-house of stunning performances from the stellar cast including Judi Dench and young newcomer Jude Hill.

25 – 29 April The Lost Daughter (15) – The seemingly serene tale of a woman’s pleasant rediscovery of herself soon becomes the story of a ferocious confrontation with an unsettled past. Starring Olivia Colman, the film received four Oscar nominations. It is based on a book by Elena Ferrante.


Wednesday, 13 April, 8.30pm Poets Out Loud
For writers, readers and listeners from Cumbria and beyond. All are welcome to a most informal evening of poetry at the Kirkgate Centre for listeners, not just writers. Booking not required. Doors open 8.30pm.

Thursday, 21 April, 7pm NTLive – Henry V (15)
Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) stars as the young king who goes to war with France. Does he have what it takes to be a real leader? Shakespeare’s thrilling study of the psychology of power. Live-streaming.

14 & 15 May Cockfrock
Yes! It’s back! The fashion event we all love! We’re looking for good quality ladies fashions and accessories for our latest Cockfrock sale in May. Registration for sellers is now OPEN click here to register as a seller!

7 May 7pm The Great Big Kirkgate Quiz
Quizmaster Toby Gaffney returns to baffle and bamboozle us through a myriad of brain-teasing rounds in his unique, inventive quiz.

You can book for all our events here.


Musicians love the Kirkgate – See what some of our favourite names have said about playing on our stage here.


Human ingenuity is amazing and it’s on display every week at the Kirkgate. In this new slot featuring people who hire our venue, we hear from Karen at Bodywork Pilates, Making Movement Flow at the Kirkgate Centre.

Hi I’m Karen Lillie a Pilates instructor, fitness professional, remedial Sports Therapist and a Biomechanics Coach. I am a runner and triathlete and love my wild swimming. My passion is to keep all clients moving freely, be that teaching my Pilates or through remedial sports massage and movement therapy. I have been teaching Pilates since the late 1990’s and have benefited from its results ever since. The Pilates I teach also includes some biomechanics movement exercises and always concludes with a relaxation finale. Some clients sometimes drift off!

Pilates main focus is to strengthen the core muscles to help keep your spine healthy as well as including strengthening of all areas of your body from your muscles to your mind, I call it the whole body work out. My classes cater for all abilities and ages over 16.

One very important aspect in the classes is that I spend lots of time with balancing exercises. This is so important as we get older and such a challenge sometimes but whatever age you are practicing your balance move should be top of your list of daily exercises.

Benefits of Pilates are wide ranging and everyone will benefit young and old. I see a lot of runners and cyclists in clinic and one of the first things I always encourage them to do to stay injury free is join a Pilates or Yoga class.

What’s the different between Yoga and Pilates is a question I get asked many times. Pilates is more dynamic and movement based. My Bodywork Pilates is a constant flow of exercises from standing to floor and seated. Just ask my clients we really do get a good all round body workout.

What do I Iove about teaching Pilates and being a Remedial Sports massage therapist? It’s the the look on clients faces when they have finished the class with a calming relaxation and I know they have switched off from the craziness of the day and their mind and muscles are moving freely.

Class times are Tuesdays 2000 and Thursdays 2010
If you want to know about the classes or treatments I offer, please contact me.

I am really passionate about the benefits Pilates and movement therapy brings to all our lives.

Yours in health & fitness and Keep Moving freely! Hope to see you in a class sometime.

Please contact me on mob 07831681639 Facebook page The Bodywork Coach or Instagram Karenlillie66.

A Day in The Life

Our volunteer of the month is Judith Bennington

A work opportunity brought me to Cockermouth from London in 2006 and I was keen to make what I thought would be a temporary move.  But early retirement in 2014 gifted me time to really enjoy the town and this beautiful part of the country, and it’s clear it’s become home.

As an avid cinema goer and lover of live music, the Kirkgate had become my go-to local venue.  So when I was asked if I had a few spare hours one weekend to help at a fundraiser event – the “Cockfrock” ladies clothes sale – I can admit to being in the dark about what would be involved but happy to pitch in.  I had no idea it would be so popular on the night that people wouldn’t want to leave; or that the proceeds from these volunteer-run fundraisers are so important for the centre, and have helped pay for example for the new cinema screen and auditorium lighting.  Or that I’d make such good long term friends at that event.  So not a surprise then that I’m still involved with Cockfrock fundraisers and looking forward to the next one in May.  I’ve got about half a dozen wardrobe staples from Cockfrock and am ready to snap up more bargains.

I’ve been a Trustee on the Kirkgate Board for 6 years which has given me a really good insight into the significance of volunteer effort to the continued success of the centre and the keenness of volunteers to be creative and flexible in offering their time.  Last year this meant we could try something new in the form of the successful community cafes and markets.  This year there’s a decorating contingent which is gradually revitalising the Kirkgate’s interior as and when time allows.

So to all fellow volunteers – a big thank you from me as a Kirkgate Trustee, event organiser and attendee – your support is hugely appreciated and every little really does help.  And to anyone thinking about giving it a go, my encouragement.  As Bob Dylan would say – Don’t think twice, its all right.

You can see a little film with some of our volunteers here:

If you would like to get involved as a volunteer, please contact us on
As well as volunteering, there are many ways you can help us with your support. Coming along to our events is the best way possible!

You can donate here.

Become a Friend of Kirkgate

You can join our exclusive Friends organisation from £20 a year to enjoy various benefits while supporting us.

  • Free ticket exchange if you book tickets and are unable to attend
  • Priority invitations to special events
  • Occasional newsletters updating you on future plans and new developments at Kirkgate Arts and Heritage.

Join here.


William Gibsons farm Buttermere WWI period horse-drawn plough

With Easter upon us, and thoughts of new-born lambs and Easter bunnies, time to remember Cockermouth’s importance as a market town for the surrounding villages in the past, and still important today as reflected in the thriving business that is Mitchell’s Livestock Mart.  A few years back we were given the memories of John Thornthwaite, who grew up on a farm at Setmurthy in the 1930s.  The farm was Middle Ruddings Farm, and John wrote down an outline of the farming year at a time when farming still employed many traditional methods, without the aid of modern equipment and machinery.

Middle Ruddings Farm then had 80 acres, with just one horse called Jess to do the heavy work.  There were 30 cows (milkers, heifers and fat stock).  Milk was cooled and put in churns which were collected daily by the Milk Marketing Board.  Some of the milk was kept and churned into butter for home use.  There were about 100 sheep – Herdwicks, Black-faced Leicesters and breeding ewes, kept in check by Ben and Jack (two collie sheepdogs).  There were pigs, with one sow for breeding.  The piglets were sent to market, all except one which was kept back to be fattened up, then slaughtered by a butcher from Embleton.  The meat was used for ham, bacon, sausages, black puddings, and the pigs’ trotters for pies.  Hens, ducks, geese and guinea fowls ran free, providing eggs and food for the farm.  Hay was the main crop, with corn for cattle feed, turnips for sheep and the kitchen, and potatoes for the kitchen.  Kale, mangolds and field carrots were grown for sheep and cattle.

Setmurthy School circa 1930

Muck-spreading began at the end of Winter and in early Spring, with muck from the farm middens spread in heaps on the fields.  It was then spread evenly over the land with hand gripes (a form of large fork).  Ploughing, done by one man and a single furrow plough pulled by Jess was a long, slow job.  Harrowing was carried out with a spiked mesh of steel pulled over the land by man and horse.  To sow seed a fiddle drill  (shaped like a violin with a bow) was used.  Next came the rolling process, with a heavy roller pushing the seed into the soil.  This was followed by the hay harvest, threshing and stack-bottom burning.  The pace of life on the farm was relentless.

In between times there was lambing and calving, dyking (clearing hedge drains and gutters), and then getting stock to Cockermouth Auction Market.  Interestingly, John recalls an artist who lived in the cottage at Middle Ruddings – Edward Thompson, who used take his paintings to sell to tourists at the Pheasant Hotel.  Today his work is highly collectible.

Gloria Edwards
Cockermouth Heritage Group

Our Cockermouth

Each month we hear from a member of the wider Kirkgate Quarter family. It’s April and Easter is just round the corner. Here’s Andy Walsh of Market Place’s Coffee Kitchen to tell us about his special spring baked goodies – and more!

There is something very special about taking flour, water, a little yeast and a little salt and making something nutritious out of them. Bread with no unnatural preservatives or additives. Bread your Granny would have made (if she was good at making bread!). Bread as it should be. That’s what we’ve been trying to do at The Coffee Kitchen Bakery on Market Place for the last seven years. We’ve made thousands of sourdoughs, yeasted breads, rolls, scones and much more. We hope you’ve enjoyed them. If not, we hope you’ve enjoyed the smell as you walk along Market Place.

The last two years have been tough. The whole team has worked really hard and we seem to have come out of it stronger and, possibly, wiser. I’m very proud we were there for the town when it needed us. I spent a lot of time delivering to folks who were isolating and had a lot of fantastic long distance conversations at the same time.

If you haven’t tried our bread, feel free to come along to the bakery and have a look at what we do. Even if you have trouble digesting factory-style bread, have a try of ours. Without all those additives and with a little extra time in the making, you may just find the perfect bread for you.

Andy Walsh
The Coffee Kitchen Bakery

General Manager’s Letter

Emma Heys General Manager

This is my first letter since taking up my post at Kirkgate last autumn. After 6 months at the helm I think I’ve got the hang of it and I’m really enjoying getting to grips with everything that goes on behind the scenes to make Kirkgate buzz and hum like a fun but well-oiled machine.

The staff and volunteers are what make the Kirkgate and as I’d previously been a volunteer myself I know all the team as well many of the customers. But it’s very different being in the driving seat and the past six months have been a whirlwind. We’ve made so many changes already to update the Kirkgate Centre, from new windows on the ground floor to redecorating a lot of the public areas. Next up is going to be a kitchen off the Egremont Room, which will be a long overdue addition to what we can offer our own customers as well as people who hire our premises for their own special events such as weddings and other celebrations.

Other highlights have been the launch of our new website and all the inspiration we’ve had working with Cockermouth schoolchildren on our Dorothy Wordsworth project. It’s also great to be back in West Cumbria’s village halls, libraries and community centres with our Arts Out West shows, and to be booking films, gigs and live shows, as well as lining up some new arts and heritage activities for the rest of this year and beyond.

I’m always glad to hear your ideas about what to put on and how to involve more people in Kirkgate’s arts, heritage and entertainment programmes. We really are here for everyone and feel it’s important to keep refreshing our offer to the public. We’re very much rooted in our local communities and want to play our part in keeping West Cumbria such a great place to live in, work and visit. Please get in touch if you would like to talk about volunteering or your ideas, or just call in to pay us a visit before coming along to an event. You’ll get a warm welcome.

Emma Heys