In 1990 Maydown Ebrington Group purchased the derelict Ebrington Shirt Factory and with the aid of a grant from the International Fund for Ireland, transformed the building into the organisation’s headquarters. The shirt factory was originally built in 1892 by Young & Rochester but had been derelict since the early 70’s following the closure of the shirt-making company. Major changes in training throughout the 90’s necessitated the Maydown Ebrington Group to examine its operations and it was decided that with the uncertainty of Government projects, more commercial activities had to be introduced to allow the use of those resources for the benefit of the community. Part of this planning was the development of a major complex to facilitate the arts and social life of the area. To that end, in February 2000 a £2M investment project commenced and the new Ebrington Centre was opened in March 2001.
The primary facility, the Waterside Theatre, is a 372-seat auditorium with a flexible seating system that can be easily retracted to allow the large floor space to be used for a variety of purposes, such as conferences, trade shows and sporting events.
In 2007 the Waterside Theatre secured funding from the North West Cultural Challenge Fund and Local Strategy Partnership to extend the facilities offered and construction of a new theatre studio to house the range of education classes was completed in May 2008, with the new theatre extension comprising separate entrance, box office, exhibition space and café bar completed in September 2009. The theatre has cinema capability and is now complemented by bravo café bar, Rochester’s lounge bar and free private car parking for 100 cars all on site.
The Theatre has partnerships with the North West Regional College, Grove Theatre Group and hosts the City of Derry Drama Festival and Hidden Treasures Children’s Theatre Festival each year.
Resident companies at the theatre include Ulidian Youth Drama Group, Sai Pak Chinese Welfare Association, Youth Action NI, Movers and Shakers, Kerala Association and Jo Jingles (early years music programme). We also offer Music Therapy and Drama, Hip Hop Drama and Art Classes, Diversity Drama Projects and Adult Drama Classes.
The theatre performance programme currently includes drama, contemporary dance, ballet, live music, comedy, children’s theatre as well as traditional/cultural events.