Snibston Country Park & Century Theatre

TEP played a leading role in supporting Leicestershire County Council (LCC) in the £3m regeneration of Snibston Colliery Park in the centre of Coalville, North West Leicestershire.

The former mining site is a Scheduled Monument and considered one of the nation’s best surviving examples of a mining complex, dating from the British coal industry’s period of peak production. Once out of bounds to the public, it is now a popular 40-hectare country park and visitor attraction celebrating the area’s history of mining, and contains a café, play area and bike pump track, a 4km mountain bike trail, and Heritage Trail, focused around the former colliery headstocks which are a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

TEP developed the vision document and masterplan for the site, and working closely with LCC, North West Leicestershire District Council and English Heritage, further developed the detailed landscape design to discharge planning conditions and secure the design and build contractor for the café and park. TEP led on town planning, masterplanning and landscape design, and also carried out ecological, arboriculture and heritage assessments which pro-actively informed the masterplanning and environmental appraisal of the scheme, supported by Buttress Architects, Curtins Transport, BE Group and BWB during planning and up to RIBA Stage 3. TEP continued work on the project supporting A+G Architects and the contractor Fortem to RIBA Stage 4 and 5 detailed design and construction.

TEP’s Heritage team was also employed to provide archaeological and heritage services including historic building recording the Century Theatre, a rare 1950s mobile theatre (in fact Britain’s oldest travelling theatre) which has been located at the country park since 1996 and remains in use as an entertainment venue.

The creation of mobile theatres became popular following the end of the second world war when many theatres had been damaged or possessed inadequate facilities. In addition to creating a performance space, the theatres also provided mobile living quarters, offices and stores for the actors and their community.

The Century Theatre was built in Hinckley between 1948 and 1952, with funding coming from household names such as Laurence Olivier, John Mills, Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie. Following its opening performance in Hinckley on 29th September 1952, the theatre toured for two decades before changes to traffic regulations effectively prevented the theatre from being able to travel. Century Theatre made its final journey in 1996 to take up residence at Snibston Country Park, where its doors remain open to this day, playing host to a wide variety of shows and activities, including music, comedy, art, dance and film.