History of the Building
History of the Building
Our building has been a place of entertainment and a gathering point for communities for 90 years.
The Foresters’ Hall is built on Kilburn High Road. It is a meeting place for the Kilburn branch of the Foresters’ Friendly Society, which helped those in need “as they walked through the forests of life”.
The Foresters’ Hall doubles as a music and dance hall, a place for social events and entertainment.
During WW2, the Hall is used as an air raid shelter and a food distribution point.
Kilburn’s Foresters’ Society thrives, forging particularly strong links with the West Indies, which proved invaluable to those arriving on The Windrush in 1948.
Shirley Barrie and Ken Chubb found the Wakefield Tricycle Company, borrowing the name from a pub at King’s Cross where they perform as a lunch-time theatre group.
The old Foresters Hall is used as offices occupied by Brent Community Relations Council, the Citizens Advice Bureau and some of the council’s housing staff. When Wakefield Tricycle Company discover it, they make it their home for the theatre, through the support of Brent Borough Council, Greater London Council and the Arts Council of Great Britain.
The red scaffolding is erected in the auditorium, inspired by the Pittsburgh Public Theater in Pennsylvania, the Royal Exchange in Manchester and the Georgian playhouse in Richmond, Yorkshire, in a design by Tim Foster Architects in consultation with Theatre Projects Consultants Limited.
Nicolas Kent’s Oxford Playhouse production Playboy of the West Indies by Mustapha Matura arrives at the Tricycle. Chubb and Barrie return to Canada and Kent becomes Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre. During his 28-year tenure it becomes known as a powerhouse for political theatre.
The Foresters’ Hall is ravaged by fire spread from a neighbouring timber yard during the run of Burning Point. A major fundraising campaign ensures our auditorium is completely rebuilt. An extensive re-building programme was funded by the department of the Environment Urban Aid Fund, the Borough of Brent, the Greater London Arts, the Arts Council of Great Britain and public subscription.
The theatre opens again after 2 years of building works. The James Baldwin Studio, which has since been used for workshops with young people, rehearsals, readings, and even storage space, is added to the building.
The Tricycle Cinema opens next to the Foresters’ Hall. Though initially a cause of controversy, today it is a much loved part of the local community. During the building works the Cameron Mackintosh rehearsal space is added too.
The Creative Space is built for the theatre’s extensive education and community work.
Indhu Rubasingham takes over as Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre.
The building commences a much-needed major 2 year building project to ensure our viability as a theatre for all. It becomes accessible to everyone, in front of house areas, auditorium and backstage. Its presence on Kilburn High Road is increased with a new welcoming café, open to all. Theatre experience improves with better sightlines, comfortable seats and flexible stage.
The building reopens its doors and the Tricycle launches as Kiln Theatre in the heart of Kilburn, a place of energy, transformation and creativity.