A FORMER railway signal box in Stoke-on-Trent will open to the public for the first time in over 30 years, with a charity pop-up mini-cini set to take over.
For one weekend only, the Signal Box doors at Capital&Centric’s Goods Yard neighbourhood will be open to film lovers – with two special screenings alongside music, drinks and free popcorn.
First up on Friday 17 March will be ‘Marvellous’, the wholesome true story of local legend Neil Baldwin. The BBC film charts Neil’s life, from starting out as circus clown to becoming the kit man at Stoke City FC, in turn being named ‘the best signing ever made’ by then manager Lou Macari.
Then it’s the Saturday scaries, as the following night (Saturday 18 March) sees ‘The Conjuring’ showing, guaranteeing tense moments and jump scares in the industrial, atmospheric setting.
The venue – at Stoke-on-Trent’s Glebe Street – was once a signal box operated by Network Rail. It’s sat empty since the 90s, but is now being brought back to life by the social mission developers Capital&Centric, in partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, as part of the £60m Goods Yard neighbourhood.
Tim Heatley, co-founder at Capital&Centric, said: “The Signal Box doors have been firmly locked for decades. This is a brilliant opportunity to open it back up for the local community. We want people to come down and have a snoop around the building, enjoy some drinks, indulge in loads of popcorn and sit back for the film. A one-off charity gig in a really different and unique space. The team is cracking on building out the neighbourhood. In time, the Signal Box will be a café bar, a space where we can have a rotation of cultural events and pop-ups. But we’re pleased that – at this really early stage in the build – we can get people down on site and give them a taste of what’s to come in the future at the Goods Yard.”
Movie-goers can expect drinks, snacks, music and free popcorn, with doors opening at 7pm and the films starting at 8pm on both Friday and Saturday night. The ticket price includes a free drink and popcorn, with music, a bar and snacks also being planned.
Every penny from ticket sales will go to the Macari Foundation, a local charity helping to support those at risk of homelessness in Stoke-on-Trent. Tickets are just £7 and available now: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pop-up-mini-cini-at-goods-yard-tickets-557811588477
Cllr Abi Brown, Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “It’s very exciting to be able to share a preview of Goods Yard with people locally. The pop-up cinema event in the Signal Box signals the vibrant destination to come that residents, workers, students and visitors will be able to enjoy. This demonstrates the values that we are putting first in bringing this project forward, our communities.
“This will be a unique experience – to see inside this building for the first time and adding to the atmosphere of the films. Also, to imagine the space as a buzzing café bar once the site is completed. Now’s the time to start building momentum with more events to come to celebrate our transforming spaces while fantastic new places start to take shape across Stoke-on-Trent including the stunning Goods Yard.”
Work on site started in October 2022. Since then, the 1980s industrial units have been dismantled, with the site primed for the next phase of the build. But beneath the site lies the locally-listed vaulted warehouse, once used as canalside storage space for industry. Work is currently underway to remove a mezzanine floor added at a later date to the warehouse. When complete, it’ll reveal the original double-height warehouse and stunning vaulted ceilings for the first ever time.
The structural frame of the 10-storey apartment block will also rise from the ground before the summer. Once complete, Goods Yard will be packed with 174 new design-led homes for rent; edgy work spaces; indie bars, cafes and shops; and stacks of green outdoor space open to the public.
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