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Stepnell Redevelops Historic Costume Workshop
- February 10, 2021

Stepnell has completed the multimillion-pound redevelopment phase of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) Costume Workshop in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The renovation of the Grade II listed site included the stockroom and costume cottage building, which were originally constructed in 1850, as well as the scene dock building, originally constructed in 1887. The site required retention and heritage remedial works and was valued at more than £6 million.

Stepnell also worked on remodelling the internal spaces to create a new reception area, costume workrooms, costume stockroom and prop workshop. Along with this, they also worked on a costume fitting and exhibition area, which will be open as part of public hours in the future.

Adrian Barnes, Regional Director at Stepnell, said: “This was an incredible project to work on and we’re so happy that we were able to play a part in preserving such an important era of British history. We have a wealth of experience in working on heritage projects, so we’re glad that we are able to add this to our growing portfolio of restoration schemes.”

Mr Barnes continued: “Although these projects are amazing to work on in terms of legacy and community value, logistically they can be incredibly challenging. While on site at the Costume Workshop, we had to work within the constraints of limited noise and vibration to ensure we didn’t disrupt local residents or damage the structure of neighbouring buildings, which also hold historic significance.

“Not only did we need to consider the preservation of the surrounding area, we also had to navigate operations with limited access and space as the site was surrounded by the RSC cottages and head office, and a small road leading to a local school.

“The issue of space was also heighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. The team did a great job of implementing stringent health and safety precautions that allowed work to continue throughout both national lockdowns – something that we think was pivotal in the project’s success.”

Stephen Rebbeck, Technical Director and Project Lead at the Royal Shakespeare Company, said: “We are delighted to have worked with Stepnell on this challenging project to keep our world class Costume Workshop close to our theatres in the heart of historic Stratford- upon-Avon. The end result gives us a place to create the best facilities for our costume-making, as well as offering new training and apprenticeship opportunities and allowing visitors to experience our Costume Workshop for themselves in the future.

“We are enormously grateful to all our funders and donors for their support including crucial local support from the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the National Lottery Heritage Fund”.

Stepnell worked in close partnership with architects Aedas Arts Team to blend the Workshop’s traditional aesthetic with more contemporary elements in order to help boost functionality, so staff can get the proper use of and utilise the creative space. The build, which is now fit for purpose, serves both the women’s and men’s costume workrooms, a dye workroom, an armoury, a millinery and a jewellery workroom.

Julian Middleton, Executive Director at Aedas Art Team, said: “Rather like a theatrical production, creating buildings to support the performing arts is a genuine team effort. Stepnell understood this from the very start and it was the cornerstone of their approach. The team worked collaboratively and proactively throughout the construction process as we tackled the challenges of working in and around important historic buildings. For us, they did a great job amidst the most extraordinarily challenging of times – with imagination, pragmatism and good grace.”

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