Bridgwater Arts Centre

Brief History

Castle Street in Bridgwater...

…Where the Arts Centre stands, was built upon the derelict site of Bridgwater Castle which was dismantled on the orders of parliament.

The eighteenth century was a time when the town of Bridgwater created great wealth and Castle Street was built as a speculative development. The houses are built of local brick with ashlar dressings and were designed by the architect Benjamin Holloway.

The history

1723
Construction
Construction began in 1723 on the orders of James Brydges, first Duke of Chandos. Castle Street was one of the finest streets in Somerset and predates any of the 18th century domestic buildings in Bath. Many of the original features of the house have gone.

The Kelting Room contains the most interesting architectural features. The plaster ceiling mouldings and the fireplace are original, as are the wooden side cupboards, the window panels and window seats.
1723
1945
Opening the Arts Centre
After the end of the 2nd World War No.11 Castle Street became available for sale or rent. In 1945 Gwen Pollard who was a local patron of the Arts, realized that here was an opportunity to open an Art Centre for the people of Bridgwater. Bridgwater Arts Centre was opened on 10th October 1946, with the financial help of the newly established Arts Council. It was the first Arts Centre in Britain to open with Arts Council support.

A portrait of Gwen Pollard can be seen in the entrance to the building in recognition of her influence and commitment in getting the original Arts Centre open.
1945
1966
Ownership
The building was purchased by Bridgwater Borough Council in 1966, which then passed into the ownership of Sedgemoor District Council in 1974. Number eleven Castle Street was acquired in 1982, on condition that members of the Arts Centre took responsibility for it and any costs involved in refurbishing the interior.
1966
2020 and beyond
Present day
The building is now owned by the Town Council, who took over from SDC in 2020. Bridgwater Arts Centre continues to be committed to providing the communities of Sedgemoor and the wider region with the highest quality of theatrical, artistic, creative and cultural opportunities to engage with as wide a range as possible of the Arts.

We continue to offer a diverse programme of performance art and visual art with strong emphasis on participation.
2020 and beyond