Architecture Creative Heritage History Theatre Truro


Ah, the ‘in-the-know’ pleasure of an ope – the tiny opening between tightly-packed buildings often found in Cornish fishing and mining communities. And earlier this month we cut the ribbon on the Cornwall Playhouse’s own spin on this tradition: The Ope Way is our name for the area at the back of the stalls (ground floor) in our new theatre, which connects the Playhouse Bar (and our Boscawen Street entrance) with the Quay and the Green Room Café. Is it a shortcut between two Truro shopping streets? Or a cut-through to the box office? Or simply an excuse to have a nose at what’s happening in Cornwall Playhouse on any given day? Try it yourself and tell us!


The pioneering idea of the Ope Way was a key part of our vision for the ‘new’ building, it forms part of our new Heritage Trail, and we’re thrilled to share it with you. Of course The Ope Way won’t always be open – some theatre secrets are best kept until showtime!

Creative Heritage History

£20m Redevelopment

Last week was a momentous occasion for everyone involved with our £20m redevelopment project as we handed over the keys to the building contractors Kier to mark the formal start of the building works.

This is a key milestone in our journey to create a world class venue which will provide Cornwall with access to the very best performing arts to rival anywhere in the country, as well as creating jobs and boosting the local economy.

As we look to raise the curtain on our future, it seemed only fitting to celebrate the spirit of all the audiences, performers, directors, writers and technicians who have made the magic happen over the last 20 years by staging a very special key handover event.

Our celebration was led by members of our Youth Theatre and Dance groups who gave a series of specially devised performances as guests were taken on a tour of the theatre for the final time. The building’s history and heritage were celebrated by all; one young person performed a poem he had written about the secrets contained backstage, the builders (aka our youth theatre in disguise!) animated the auditorium’s fascinating 20 year history and  a team of youth dancers performed a celebratory dance to mark the end of this extraordinary era. All those taking part did an amazing job and I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this such a special evening.

Guests had a rare opportunity to access previously off-limits areas of the building, including a tour  backstage and an introduction to the ‘famous’ HFC red lipstick tradition of performers kissing the walls prior to a performance. Guests were also able to see the vault door still in place within the former Flourish Café, previously the site of a police station with jail cell and an integral part of the redevelopment design proposal, as an important part of the overall fabric of the Grade II Listed building. By reuniting this part of the City Hall with the rest of the Boscawen Foyer we hope that we can celebrate much more of the building’s history with the public.

To finish up, The Suitcase Singers with performers from three Cornish choirs sang songs commissioned as part of our Heritage Lottery Funded project celebrating the achievements of famous Cornish women. These included Jenny Mopus, a song which tells the true story of Jenny Davies, an 18th century ferrywoman who rowed people from the Roseland Peninsula to Truro and whose portrait hangs in the Royal Cornwall Museum; famous Cornish rower Anne Glanville, who famously led a team of female rowers against male teams from Cornwall before repeating their achievement in France; and a song about Dolly Portreath, reported to be the last native Cornish speaker.

The evening ended with 11 year old Maisie Crick, who performed in our last HFC Christmas Show, presenting the keys to the building to Chris Couch, Kier’s Area Manager for Cornwall. Confidently carrying out her task, Maisie summed up the feelings of people across Cornwall by telling Kier “Please look after our theatre”.

Earlier in the week Cornwall Council had arranged for the iconic Drummer sculpture to be removed from Lemon Quay to protect it from damage during the construction works. With the agreement of the artist, the Drummer will spend the next two years at the Eden Project before being returned to Lemon Quay when our project is completed in 2020. The sculpture is currently in temporary storage while a suitable site is prepared at Eden.

We have worked closely with Truro BID, Kier and local businesses to create visuals for the hoardings surrounding the construction site. These will tell the story of the redevelopment alongside celebrating the building and Truro’s history and heritage visually and will be erected over the next few weeks.

Now the construction has formally begun we want to make sure that you can follow the progress of the redevelopment. We will be taking photos and film footage of the building works which we will be posting on our website and social media channels and will be working with Kier to organise a series of hard hat tours, open days and events. We look forward to welcoming you to see our progress soon.

Creative Heritage Heritage Lottery Fund History

Hall For Cornwall redevelopment boosted by £2.5m National Lottery grant

Hall For Cornwall redevelopment boosted by £2.5m National Lottery grant

We are thrilled to announce that we have today heard that we have been successful with being awarded our full Heritage Lottery grant for our ‘Revealing City Hall’ project. Since investing initial development funds last year, the Heritage Lottery Fund team have been really impressed by the local support from the Cornish community that has gone into creating the foundations for the full project. Some of you will have been involved with our memory and stories collecting and pop-up performances.

The grant will ensure the conservation and reinvigoration of Christopher Eales’ 1846 Grade II building’s Boscawen Street and Lemon Quay public spaces that currently envelop our auditorium. Alongside this, ‘Revealing City Hall’ will unveil the 350-year history of the City Hall site and bring it to life creatively for all.  A really exciting project that will enable the local community and visitors to discover the evolving heritage of City Hall and its very unique story.

Commenting on the award, Julien Boast, Director of Hall For Cornwall said: “It’s always a thrill and relief to know that everybody’s hard work here has been fully recognized. We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support and after all the research and preparations so energetically undertaken, we are now eager to unleash our building’s cultural and heritage potential and give expression to this enormous confidence in us”.

Over the years, Truro City Hall has been many things to many people. Courts of Justice, skating rink, food market, rifle range, jail, theatre and seat of political power. It has survived fire and more than one economic downturn; provided a platform for civic unrest and played host to award-winning shows. The HLF-funded project will enable people to discover the evolving heritage of City Hall and its place in an emerging city, through a ‘voice-scape’ of people past and present and a host of other creative innovations that will tell its very unique story.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, Hall For Cornwall’s rich 350-year history will be revealed in an enhanced public building. We are particularly excited about the number of people, young and old, who will be involved in the building’s future through education and training programmes, volunteering opportunities and activities connected to their local heritage”.

We’ll certainly be keeping people updated of news and becoming involved over the coming months.

Creative Heritage History

Past, Present, Future

Past, Present, Future

Heritage isn’t only the past, it’s about the now and the future too. The things we do today will become part of history too.

Revealing City Hall is our project to collect and share memories and histories about our building and why it is important to Truro and Cornwall. We’ve uncovered some great stuff already. Some big stories and small memories, some great photographs and a few weird and funny ones too.

TRURO, ENGLAND – MARCH 05 2022: Activities during the Hall For Cornwall Heritage Day photographed for the HfC by Hugh Hastings)

We can look back and laugh at some of the things from the past, but what people will think about us in 100 years time?

We’re collecting lots more Truro things to share. If you love Truro let us know, and help us build a collection about our city!