The name ‘Cresset’ refers to a basket of fire kept continuously alight and placed at the focal point of a medieval community. Around it, people gathered for their meetings and discussions; from it, they took fire to their own homes to provide heat and light. Like its namesake, The Cresset Theatre was designed to sit at the heart of the community, offering a wide range of services for local residents and visitors – and over 40 years after we opened our doors, we remain true to our original ethos of inclusion and community. You can read about our mission and values here.
The unique concept for The Cresset – a community hub at the heart of Bretton, the first new township of Greater Peterborough – was devised in the 1970s by Sir Harold Haywood. The Cresset was developed and built by multiple organisations, including Peterborough City Council, Peterborough Development Corporation, Cambridgeshire County Council and several voluntary organisations. 1978 saw the official opening of this unique community complex by HM The Queen on 22nd March. The Queen attended with Prince Philip and toured the building, meeting staff, volunteers and clients before unveiling a commemorative plaque in The Cresset reception.
The ambitious plans for the building included a library, youth club, theatre, sports facilities, day care centre, events venues and a church, as well as over 70 flats managed by YMCA. 40 years on, many of these services are still in operation – for more information on the businesses and organisations located on our premises, please visit our Shops & Services page.
The Cresset is completely self-funding but in 2014 it merged with what is now YMCA Trinity Group which has secured the future of the building and organisation. On 12th August 2018, to celebrate our 40th Anniversary of HM The Queen opening our doors, we invited the people of Peterborough to a big Cresset birthday party bash, with free tea and cake for all! We had performances from The X-Factor star Nicole Lawrence, Goldhay Arts and The U3A Ukulele Band as well as speeches from VIP guests including Cllr John Fox.
Over the past 40 years we’ve gone from strength to strength – playing host to an incredible range of events and welcoming millions of people through our doors. We hope to see you soon!
The Cresset is operated by The Cresset Limited (Company Registration Number: 1639017), a trading subsidiary of YMCA Trinity Group (Registered Charity number 1069810). The registered office for The Cresset Limited is:
The Cresset, Rightwell, Bretton, Peterborough, PE3 8DX, England.
VAT registration 425698616