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Student plans to bring theatrical drama to Bacup quarry

26 June 2014

Lyndsey Boardman

Budding architect shares ambitious project

An ambitious student architect has developed exciting plans to transform Lee Quarry in Bacup and open it up to the wider public as part of his final year university project.

Alex Macbeth, a 21-year-old architecture student from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), has come up with an idea to build a performance theatre by the quarry accessible via a cable car system from the foot of the hill up to the quarry travelling through the building itself.

Alex, a keen mountain biker from Alsager near Crewe, had the idea because he wanted to make the quarry more appealing to a wider audience whilst at the same time provide easier access to the many enthusiastic cyclists who regularly use the trails around the quarry.

He commented “I wanted to benefit the existing users and come up with a way of helping them travel to the quarry more easily with their equipment which the cable car system would do. I like the idea of creating a performance space somewhere where you wouldn’t expect there to be one and also introduce an entirely different demographic to the quarry who may have never thought of visiting it before.”

"I like the idea of creating a performance space somewhere where you wouldn’t expect there to be one and also introduce an entirely different demographic to the quarry who may have never thought of visiting it before."

The theatre itself would be made of sandstone so that it complements the surrounding landscape and pays homage to the original industry. Alex has also suggested that the theatre’s interior space would house a clock work system of fabric backdrops that would slowly move around the room.

Alex said: “It would create a dynamic route through the building where the artwork would appear almost stationary whilst the public move through the space but when a performance is over their route through the auditorium would have altered. This clockwork system would be driven by a series of weights inside the building governed by a giant external pendulum which would also act as a visual spectacle for people approaching the building.”

While the project is of course for academic purposes Alex says he would be overjoyed if the local council would be interested in his ideas.

“I realise I am suggesting some pretty drastic measures to overcome accessibility issues but I would obviously be extremely pleased if they were to like the idea.” He added: “It would ultimately bring a very unique attraction to the heart of Bacup.”

Alex Macbeth