The Madhouse project
A Venue for Music and Arts
The Madhouse GY adventure began in April 2013 as we recognised that The Markham Hall, situated on the campus of St. James’ School, Bargate, Grimsby had long been forgotten about as a first rate central venue for Music and Arts.
A Silver Celebration
A little research confirmed that The Markham Hall was actually built and opened in 1989. Our project soon had a silver lining as in 2014, less than a year into our project, we began to commemorate 25 years. Whilst the Markham Hall is still enjoyed by the school, public engagement has certainly been somewhat forgotten.
A special commission
The Markham Hall was commissioned and built in 1989 by the then Governing Body of St. James’ School. It was designed as a bespoke purpose built music and arts venue. Rumour has it that many a heated discussion took place during the planning process! Those involved insisted on an ‘acoustic’ and certainly avoided any notion of a crossover sports hall.
With its first class acoustics, more intimate size and quirky design, The Markham Hall offers a quite unique venue to the town and certainly benefits from a prime central Grimsby location.
To artists and performers The Markham Hall offers a blank canvas; a Yamaha baby grand piano (excellent condition); with flexible seating potential. An audience capacity of 120 seated are offered a more intimate arts experience.
A smaller ‘Masters’ Room’ is situated close by and can also be used as part of the venue. An extra ‘performance’ space.
Central Grimsby location
Situated on Bargate, Grimsby this main route into town offers fantastic access potential. All major road, rail and bus routes into the town are easily accessible. More than ample off-road free parking is available to the front and rear of the venue. Cars may be parked right outside the Markham Hall. Toilet and kitchen facilities are also available. Light refreshments/bar facilities are possible.
The campus is set in parkland which is quite unique to this central town location. This obviously offers substantial outside potential performance space too.
About 18 months ago we set up a project called “The Madhouse GY” to explore and develop the potential of developing the Markham Hall as a community music and arts venue. MAD refers to Music, Arts and Drama whilst ‘House’ acknowledges the fact that the school is an eclectic mix of Victorian houses. The Madhouse Gy aims to promote and share the work of live artists, to nurture home grown talent but to also compliment their work with that of outside agencies.
Whilst we are obviously still a ‘new’ venue we have already offered a range of successful ‘pilot’ activities. It is pleasing to know that artists are already booking for ‘return’ events and audience members are seeking tickets for other activities. We have already successfully offered the following range of events: classical; jazz; folk; acting/theatre; pottery workshops; youth concerts; and comedy. “The Madhouse GY” Facebook page gives an excellent insight into our after-hours events so far.
We are receiving excellent feedback from artists, participants and audiences alike. One recent audience member said “there is nowhere else in Grimsby that can offer this. It is a brilliant idea… Singer Gary Grace has described the Markham Hall as “little gem”.
Our achievements so far have enabled us to successfully bid for a £15,000 Arts Council England grant. £10,000 has also been allocated through the Big Lotto Awards for All. The overriding aim of the grant is to engage with new artists and raise public awareness of this classy arts venue. Other funding sources are also a priority as we strive to move The Madhouse GY project forward.