Waterside is a thriving and vibrant arts venue in the heart of Sale in Trafford. Comprising a theatre, art galleries, studios and workspaces, the centre is an important regional hub for both performance and visual art.
It is a major touring venue for theatre productions, music groups, comedians and art exhibitions, while at the same time providing a vital resource for the local community. The centres hosts classes, seminars and workshops on subjects ranging from drama to salsa and poetry to tai chi. It also regularly serves a base for regional music and performance groups including Touchdown Dance.
The venue is funded by Trafford Council and supported by Engie, Arts Council England, Manchester Airport, Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Lauriston School Trust.
Waterside forms part of the Sale Waterside Complex which overlooks the attractive Waterside Plaza and Bridgewater Canal. Also housed in the complex are VAO Restaurant and the Slug & Lettuce as well as Sale Library, Youth Talk Shop and Trafford Direct and Trafford Council Offices.
Waterside occupies the site of the old Sale Civic Theatre as well as part of the former Trafford Council Town Hall. Following the closure of the theatre and the relocation of the town hall to Stretford, plans were made to rebuild and update the site into a new arts venue. After 10 years of work, the Waterside was able to launch its first artistic programme in November 2004.
Now a modern arts destination, the venue continues to reflect several aspects of its local heritage. The 350 seat theatre is named after the late Sale-born screenwriter Robert Bolt. Born in 1926, Bolt became one of the most successful playwrights and screenwriters of his generation. He won Oscars for his screenplays for Doctor Zhivago and A Man for All Seasons, which he adapted from his own play. He also penned the script for David Lean’s epic 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia. The centre was officially opened by Bolt’s widow, Sarah Miles.
The Lauriston Gallery also commemorates the Trafford based Lauriston Trust. The aim of the trust is to promote the arts in all their forms to young people in Trafford and Greater Manchester. It provided invaluable support to the gallery, which was opened by trust chair, Betty Gallimore MBE, on April 29, 2004.
The Waterside’s civic heritage has also been preserved. The Chambers studio is the former meeting chamber of the old Trafford Council Town Hall. The room remains the same as when constructed in the 1930s. It boasts wood panelled walls, parquet flooring and art deco flourishes.