Celebrating 40 years of headline acts at Peterborough's The Cresset

Level 42 at The CressetLevel 42 at The Cresset
Level 42 at The Cresset
Ed Sheeran may be a global superstar with five UK top selling singles, but back in 2010 he was a relatively unknown singer performing at The Cresset in Bretton.

One of the few people to see Ed perform that evening as a support act to the rapper Example was Harry Cudmore, who is now the multi-purpose venue’s assistant operations manager.

His verdict? “I thought he was a little bit rubbish.”

Ed may now be one of the most in demand singers on the planet (and Harry’s opinion of him has improved) but he follows a long list of top level performers who have graced The Cresset as a relative unknown since it was opened by the Queen in 1978.

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The Queen opening The CressetThe Queen opening The Cresset
The Queen opening The Cresset

Those include comedian Alan Carr, who Cresset head of commercial activities Penny Hansen remembers watching at the theatre before he became a recognisable face on our TV screens.

“There were about 80 people when he did a comedy club gig and he looked awfully young,” she recalled.

Other big name comedians to perform at the theatre include Al Murray, Lenny Henry, Ken Dodd, Norman Wisdom, Paul Merton and the Chuckle Brothers, as well as regulars such as Julian Clary and Jim Davidson.

Penny was born in the same year that The Cresset opened and saw her first gig there in 1991 when Ned’s Atomic Dustbin performed.

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Lenny Henry at The CressetLenny Henry at The Cresset
Lenny Henry at The Cresset

She said: “I’m a live music fan. I saw The Levellers there and that was an experience. There have been some really good bands over the years.”

Of course over four decades not everything goes to plan, and on one occasion rocker Alvin Stardust fell off the stage and had to be taken to hospital. Other star performers over the years include: Level 42, Bob Geldof, Tony Hadley and Chas & Dave, while World Cup winners Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters have also made appearances.

Designed as a community building,the Cresset cost around £3 million to build and covers approximately 2.5 acres.

Aside from a theatre it also houses the Church of the Holy Spirit, the Kingfisher Centre for people with disabilities, Bretton Library and 80 YMCA flats. Community services include the Bees in The Hive Pre-School and the YMCA gym.

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Norman Wisdom at The CressetNorman Wisdom at The Cresset
Norman Wisdom at The Cresset

A 40th birthday celebration for The Cresset was held last weekend with hundreds piling in to the venue to enjoy some food and share their memories.

Penny said: “We had people who remember it opening and came to various events such as the youth club or got married here. There are a lot of people in the city who have a connection with The Cresset which was nice to see. It really was a community event.”

The theatre continues to be busy and is currently selling tickets for its Autumn Season and Christmas pantomime. Penny added: “We plan on being here for another 40 years!”