Kirkgate Quarter Chronicle : October 2022

Welcome to October’s #Kirkgate newsletter. This autumn’s offerings are a positive Harvest Supper of goodies, from a mouth-watering, heart-warming play about bread-making, to spooky torchlight tours, ghost stories and the birth of the horror film.

Be sure to check the website regularly for what’s coming up at the Kirkgate and Arts Out West venues across West Cumbria. We also send out listings twice a month by email so if you’re not getting those, please let us know and we’ll fix it –

We produce a printed list of all the events coming up every month – available in the foyer at the Kirkgate Box Office which is open on Mondays and Fridays from 10am until midday, and for an hour before every event.

You really won’t want to miss anything!



The regular films are shown three times every week – Friday and Monday evenings with a sub-titled matinee on Wednesday afternoons. Check them out here.

But there are sometimes extra, special film nights too – coming in December there’s a Rotary fundraiser screening of Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again (PG), and on October 14, a first for the Kirkgate, we’re showing a classic film on the big screen with LIVE musical accompaniment.

Nosferatu (PG, 1922) was the first cinematic interpretation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the birth of the horror genre. The music is by Chris Green whose new score was commissioned by English Heritage for a live outdoor screening of the film at Dracula’s spiritual home, Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire. Composer Chris performs his own music, a haunting blend of electronic and acoustic instruments giving extra impact to the film’s iconic images.

Families and Children

That Hallowe’en feeling continues in October with activities for families and children.

Family Art Workshop days, October 26 at the Kirkgate, Cockermouth, and October 28 at the Settlement, Maryport.

Family Storytelling Workshop, October 25 at the Kirkgate.

Family Friendly Spooky Torchlight Tours of the Kirkgate, October 29, every 20 minutes from 4pm.
Extra matinee screenings of film favourite The Railway Children Return (PG) during October half-term.


National Theatre Live – Jack Absolute Flies Again (15) (based on Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals). A rollicking new comedy by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) and Oliver Chris (Twelfth Night). After an aerial dog fight, Pilot Officer Jack Absolute flies home to win the heart of his old flame, Lydia Languish. What can possibly go wrong? October 15, 7pm (doors 6pm).

The Syrian Baker – freshly made bread features in this story about home and belonging, because without bread, nothing happens. An Arts Out West show at Ullock Village Hall, October 21, and Kirkgate, October 22.

The fabulous Nicola Farnon will be in town on Sunday 23rd October for Jazz@Kirkgate with her fellow musicians Richard Weatherall on piano and Phil Johnson on drums. LIVE music from 7.30pm.


Jazz@Kirkgate: The Nicola Farnon Trio, October 23. Nicola is a class act with a passionate and swinging style, outstanding personality and a charismatic stage presence to match – she has an uncanny ability to adapt her performance to captivate and embrace any audience.

Eerie Cumbria Winter Ghost Stories, October 30 at the Kirkgate. Eerie Cumbria have packed venues with their Hallowe’en storytelling and music show. They are Tony Walker, author of Cumbrian Ghost Stories, Jonathan Sharpe, The Heartwood Institute, who has collaborated with musicians across the world with his hauntological electronic melodies, and Ben Brinicombe, playwright, author and actor, who has had success with a recent tour of his plays across the north of England and southern Scotland.
They will perform a mix of music and stories including selections from The Croglin Vampire, A West Cumberland Coal Mine, and The Highest Inn in England. Suitable for under 18s if accompanied by an adult.

Local History

Our autumn exhibition features the history of secondary education in Cockermouth, particularly at the Strawberry How buildings off Lorton Road that are now apartments.

On show will be many of the framed sports team photographs rescued when the former Grammar School was closed, together with photograph albums of pupils over several years, produced by teachers Jock and Marjorie Southgate.  We also delve into Derwent School’s history, which opened in 1958 in the building we now know as Cockermouth School on Castlegate Drive.

The exhibition runs 26 – 30 October inclusive, daily from 11am – 4pm (please note the exhibition will close at 3:45 on Saturday 29th to allow for the spooky torchlit tours). Refreshments will be available. Free entry – donations welcome.


The Kirkgate has been a busy place lately as we continue the programme of work we have planned to upgrade our dear old building.

The installation of new boilers for heating and hot water is nearing completion and we’re grateful to Allerdale Council for the financial help we’ve had with this. The contractors are Cumbria Mechanical from Carlisle. Scaffolding has been up in the yard on the Bitter Beck side of the building so that the necessary ventilation can be put into the boiler room, which is up in the gods next to the Projection Room on our ‘secret’ second floor, a space that members of the public don’t ever see.

For some time now, our two ageing workhorse boilers have been living on the edge, and so have we, worrying about whether they might fail altogether, so we’re looking forward to firing the new ones up in the coming days. They will be a great deal more energy efficient, making life a lot more comfortable for everyone and making our heating bills more manageable. We’re really grateful to volunteer Dave Edwards, a specialist engineer, for all his guidance on this significant improvement to our facilities.

We researched installing a heat pump, which would have been our top choice in order to reduce our carbon emissions, but at the moment that option would have been too expensive, involving major works re-engineering the whole building for which we didn’t have the funds. We reluctantly, but of necessity, had to stick with gas for now. We are continuing to tick building improvements off one by one, though, and there will be news next month about more exciting developments in the gradual upgrading of the Kirkgate.


This is where we normally feature one of our own wonderful volunteers – there are over 80 of them! We couldn’t do what we do without them. However, this month, we’re featuring someone who is doing something very out of the ordinary and totally voluntarily, travel agent Sally Chambers. Sally is also our featured private hirer of the month.

Sally, of Greysouthen near Cockermouth, is one of the team running Baltic Holidays. She approached us to hire the Kirkgate for a special fundraising quiz night at the Kirkgate in November to raise money for humanitarian aid to Ukraine. We’re delighted to be able to help and hope that November 6 will be not only a fun night out for everyone but also a big success in getting much needed assistance to people suffering in the war.

Sally tells us what it is all about:
‘Normally, as a travel agent, I send people to Ukraine on tailor-made tours to the magnificent cities of Lviv, Kyiv, Odesa, or skiing in Bukovel. But since Russia invaded Ukraine my Ukrainian tour guides have been arranging humanitarian aid rather than sightseeing tours. My Polish tour guides have seen tourist numbers dramatically drop and have been focused on welcoming and supporting their guests from Ukraine fleeing for safety.

‘We have set up a wonderfully effective grassroots operation for aid – I collect items or donations here in Cumbria, ALL of these go direct to Krakow in Poland either physically by truck thanks to Bay Search & Rescue in South Lakes, or by bank transfer to our good friend who is a city councillor in Krakow and doing an awesome job of running aid trips into Ukraine.

‘Earlier this year our aid was supporting Ukrainians in Poland, now it is going directly into Ukraine. There is no middleman, no warehouse where it gets delayed, it goes straight to those who need it most. Recent trips have been to Izium which was newly liberated – aid was handed out to incredibly grateful people in the streets, young and old.

‘I am regularly updated about what is most needed. Currently, our focus is on general essential aid (food, toiletries, baby items), vitamins, incontinence pants and bed mats for the elderly, infirm and wounded soldiers. We also have a very nice project A Thousand Happy Faces. The team in Krakow recently took goodies for 200 displaced Ukrainian children in Lviv, including special sweets, treats, crisps and pop. They all have basic food supplies, but these treats have disappeared from their lives. It also tells them that the world has not forgotten about them. Their smiles said it all and the aim now is to take goodies to a thousand (hopefully more) children in Ukraine.

‘Local support has been tremendous, what a great community we are lucky to live in. Let’s help make A Thousand Happy Faces for the children of Ukraine! Bring your spending money as the bar will be open, snacks available and there’ll be a fundraising raffle too of course!’

Quiz Night for Ukraine

Teams of up to 6 people are welcome, you can play solo, or come anyway and join others to make a team on the night. Tickets are £5 each here.

If you can’t attend but would like to donate to the fundraising or to contact Sally, you can do so here.


Whether you are a business, a voluntary organisation or a local resident looking for the perfect place to hold your activities, parties or events, please get in touch with our Operations Manager Katie Gentry on or phone 01900 829966. There’s more information here.


As well as curating exhibitions such as this month’s on secondary education in Cockermouth, our Heritage Group of volunteers do many other activities to preserve and publicise local  heritage. We run an article by heritage volunteer Gloria Edwards on an aspect of local history in each month’s Chronicle, and this month, Gloria’s theme is street names:

Have you ever wondered about the origin of some of the street names around our town?’
They can be a rich source of local history.  Here are just a few.
We have several places commemorating famous sons of Cockermouth: Walker Street (Dr John Walker, the ‘apostle of vaccination’), Woodville Park (Dr William Woodville, physician of the London Smallpox Hospital), Wordsworth Terrace (no explanation needed here), and Dalton Street (John Dalton, eminent scientist).

Then there are several street names reflecting days long past: Skinner Street, famous for the skinning and tanning of animal hides; Fletcher Street probably refers to the Fletcher family of Cockermouth (Fletchers owned the Old Hall of Mary Queen of Scots fame, but a fletcher was a maker of arrows); Brewery Lane, home to a brewery industry for more than 150 years; Windmill Lane which really did have a windmill at one point; Tweedmill Lane, named after a 5-storey building that produced tweed cloth initially, then confectionery, and later housed Cockermouth’s short-lived cyclecar industry; Station Street, created by knocking through buildings on Main Street to provide access to Cockermouth’s railway station on Station Road;  Pinfold Close, which used to be on the outskirts of town, where stray animals were taken and held until reclaimed by their owners; Teetotal Lane which refers back to a period when the temperance movement held considerable sway; indeed, Cockermouth had its own temperance hotels.

In the days before all adults had the right to stand for Parliament or even to vote, MPs used to more or less buy their seats in the House of Commons. Their wealth often brought them fame or notoriety too.  Mayo Street refers to the Earl of Mayo, Richard Southwell Bourke, a Cockermouth MP from 1857 to 1868.  He married Blanche Wyndham of Cockermouth Castle.  In 1869 he was appointed Viceroy and Governor-General of India by Queen Victoria, and was assassinated in the Andaman Islands three years later.  The statue of him on Main Street was put up in 1875. Edward Horsman was another of Cockermouth’s MPs, 1836-1852. His claim to fame, apart from Horsman Street, was that he took part in a duel in 1840 with another MP who had spoken ill of Queen Victoria.  Fortunately, both men survived the experience. Wyndham Row was named after a member of the Wyndham family of Cockermouth Castle, Henry Wyndham. He was yet another MP for Cockermouth in 1852.
Edward Horsman, as depicted in Vanity Fair (August 1872)
So I wonder where Strawberry How came from?  We can tell you more about the history of the site there (and Derwent School), if you come along to our free exhibition at the Kirkgate: 26-30 October inclusive, daily 11-4, refreshments available and a real nostalgia fest.

Gloria Edwards

An aerial view of Cockermouth Grammar School.


The Friends of Kirkgate are gearing up for the second of this year’s fabulous, fund-raising fashion events.
After the successful Spring/Summer return of Kirkgate’s popular pre-loved, high quality clothing and accessories sale, the Friends are now lining up the Autumn/Winter collection.

The event will be on 19 and 20 November and registration is open now. To register and for more information on how to be a successful seller of great items you no longer wear, while also raising funds to support Kirkgate Arts and Heritage (we’re a charity!), click hereYou don’t need to be at the sale to be a seller, we do all the hard work for you! If you register as a seller you will emailed a link to all the information on labelling and dropping off your items.

We think it’s really important to have an organisation and venue like Kirkgate that does so much to add to life in our area. You can help to support what we do for the community by joining our exclusive Friends organisation. For £30 a year you can get involved in fundraising and will enjoy various benefits:

  • Free ticket exchange if you book tickets for shows 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.


Are you receiving our fortnightly email with the listings of what’s coming up at the Kirkgate and Arts Out West venues? Let us know if not! As a valued Kirkgate Quarter Chronicle reader you should also be receiving our listings, and occasional special offers. Email if you haven’t spotted them in your inbox.

There’s a full autumn of events and activities on offer – films, music, theatre, live-streaming, workshop activities, poetry and more and we don’t want you to miss a thing.

There’s always a lot on at Kirkgate and Arts Out West venues with something for everyone: daytimes, evenings, weekdays and weekends. Search our website by category or date to find what tickles your fancy, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Kirkgate.
Check details for all upcoming shows here.

General Manager’s letter

It’s always amazing how much fund-raising goes on in West Cumbria for a vast range of community initiatives, and just how generous local people are, especially with the stresses and worries people are experiencing now about the cost of living.

As a charity, we at Kirkgate need to apply for grants and raise funds to cover our costs, renew essential equipment (like the old gas boilers that are being replaced this month), and keep developing. Allerdale Council has stepped up to help us over the years and they have been very supportive over our need to install new heating equipment that will obviously help us keep an essential community asset open for many years to come. We are in discussions with the Town Council and other organisations about providing a warm space for people during the energy cost crisis, and I hope we will be able to announce something about that soon.

We are always hugely grateful to people who organise or support our fundraising events such as Cockfrock (featured in this month’s Chronicle), or make donations. If you value the work that we do to make Cockermouth and West Cumbria a great place to live, please think about supporting us with a donation – it’s very easy to do through our website, just click on the link:

Maybe you would consider remembering us in your Will. Every now and then we are contacted to be told that someone has left us a legacy. It’s always a surprise and something that really tugs at the heart strings to know that someone values what Kirkgate does so much.

We’re also pleased to provide facilities for many other local fund-raisers. Earlier this month, the Mayor of Cockermouth, Councillor Andy Semple, who happens also to be a member of our board of trustees, hosted a successful quiz night at Kirkgate to raise funds for one of his Mayor’s Charities for his year of office, Hospice at Home West Cumbria.

As Cockermouth’s cinema, we’re sometimes the venue for other local charities who like to screen films to raise funds for their causes. Look out for Cockermouth Rotary Club’s upcoming screening of one of the top feel-good movies of recent years, Mamma Mia – Here We Go Again.
On 6 November, we’ll be very pleased to see you at the special Quiz Night for Ukraine to raise funds for humanitarian aid. Organiser Sally Chambers talks about how she has created a link between Cumbria and Ukraine in this month’s Chronicle.

We all look forward to welcoming you for some cosy outings while you help others during the course of the coming weeks.

Emma Heys