After nine years of making a racket, shaking the floorboards, routinely tripping the burglar alarm and welcoming the people of Hull through our draughty doors, Darley’s, our home, is to close permanently from October.
The building on Porter Street, which we lease from Goodwin Development Trust, is to go up for sale at auction in September, to find a new owner.
We have therefore decided that now is a good time to move on and, importantly, find a new space that captures the spirit of Darley’s as a creative hub for Hull’s theatre-making community.
While this news may come as a surprise, we had already been considering our future at Darley’s before we were informed of its pending sale, as we imagined what an alternative, Middle Child space might be that better fits our aims as a company.
Our version of Darley’s was always very much cobbled together from scratch, figuring out how best to make use of a space that fell into our lap when we moved into an upstairs room in 2011 for a fortnight and never left.
Over the next nine years our housemates, West Hull FM and Goodwin’s youth club, relocated and we found ourselves with an entire building, not just the one room, and promptly set about turning it into a creative hub for Hull theatre makers.
We managed this not only with the creativity and ingenuity of our staff and company members, but also the generosity of the Absolutely Cultured volunteers, who transformed the beige walls into a riot of colour, plus the countless artists and audience members who brought joy to rehearsals, sharings, workshops and visits to our script library alongside, of course, the endless support of Goodwin.
Such enthusiasm can only take us so far though in a building that was never made to host artists, especially as our own work expands in scope and ambition and, quite literally, outgrows the rehearsal room.
So while the doors to Darley’s may be about to close, we want to make clear that we are committed to finding a new space and opening a new set of doors to artists and audiences in Hull. We know that public spaces are disappearing left, right and centre, and having a place where we can bring people together is an important part of what we stand for as a company.
In that respect, this move, strangely, couldn’t have happened at a better time.
While the coronavirus continues to limit what work we can do physically, it also gives us room to find that perfect space in the city, and to bounce back in a better position than when we closed our doors, for what we thought was temporarily, in March.
Now the for sale sign is up on the wall and the auction will take place on 9 September, if anybody is in the market for an old pub lovingly looked after by an upstart theatre company.
In the meantime we are arranging interim storage and office space and Darley’s remains closed to the public, while we consider long-term options, and welcome any thoughts from Darley’s users on what that should look like. Get in touch on Twitter, Facebook or by email.
We remain eternally grateful to Goodwin Development Trust, who have been incredible hosts during our tenure at Darley’s, and we honestly wouldn’t be where we are as a company today without their support.
Big up also Silent Uproar, who became our first company-in-residence last year, using office space upstairs. It’s been fantastic to share the building with the company and we hope they will continue to feature in our future plans.
We’d also like to thank everyone who has set foot in Darley’s over the past nine years and given us their brilliant minds and bodies to make it what it has become today. It’s as much your building as ours and we look forward to seeing you again wherever we end up next.
Middle Child x
- Read artistic director Paul Smith’s memories of Darley’s, from 2011 to the present