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Runcorn’s The Brindley is a mere 15 minutes from certain parts of Liverpool and Wirral, having been set up 12 years ago when Halton Borough Council saw the potential for an arts space in the area that brought together a number of art forms.

The old Runcorn venue the Queen’s Hall was beginning to show its age so the council decided to replace it with a building where people could enjoy and participate in all kinds of artforms, regardless of age or ability, and so brought all the arts development work under one roof.

The Brindley is a physical example of the investment that the council has made in arts and culture in the area and the venue is an art gallery, gig venue, cafe, studio and performance space rolled into one.

The venue has two performance spaces: a 420-seat theatre and a 108-seat studio that doubles as a cinema and can also host standing gigs. There’s also a gallery space which has exhibitions by touring and local artists, workshop spaces and a terrace café overlooking the Bridgewater Canal.

In its history the venue has been host to John Bishop’s early comedy career, while the likes of Al Murray, Mark Thomas, Lee Mack, Marcus Brigstocke and Rich Hall have also played in the past. Runcorn continues to have an ability to attract some of the biggest names in comedy, with Russell Kane, Dave Spikey, Andi Osho, Mark Steel, Lee Hurst, Jerry Sadowitz and – er – Cannon & Ball all household names appearing in recent years. The Brindley is nothing if not eclectic.

‘Audience With’ nights have featured Will Self and John Cooper Clarke, while walking continent of common-sense, Ann Widdecombe, has also graced the venue. Beyond that there are also plays, ballet, films and an annual panto. The gallery also hosts some intriguing exhibitions – once again The Brindley has an ability to punch above its weight.

Music at The Brindley tends towards acoustic and roots music, with Glenn Tilbrook, Ralph McTell and Humphrey Lyttleton gracing the stage in times gone by. Symphonic prog loons Focus and Roachford are more recent additions.

The root of The Brindley’s ability to attract big names are in the areas’s rich history. The forerunner to the Brindley, the Queen’s Hall in Widnes, was home to several Beatles gigs. It was also the scene for big soul nights and then later bands like Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets played there.

There’s a wealth of stuff on at The Brindley with almost a new show every day. It’s a great opportunity to catch some genuinely big stars in addition to some gems from yesteryear.