Exeter’s new arts venue, ‘The Boat Shed’ opens its doors for the summer 

Nestled in the heart of The Quay, opposite Exeter Cookery School, are the cavernous and derelict Maclaines Warehouses. From the outside (with the doors closed) it seems an unlikely venue for a buzzing arts hub, but once you step inside the potential is clear – it’s a whole other world.

The Boatshed Theatre from the outside by Stephanie Darkes, Exploring Exeter, 2017

The facade of the warehouses

The other week I popped down to Exeter’s brand new arts venue The Boat Shed, to chat to David Lockwood, Creative Director of The Bike Shed Theatre for a feature I am writing for Exeter Life Magazine (pick up the August edition for the full story). David was kind enough to share with me his long and short term plans for the venue and show me around.

The Boatshed Theatre inside by Stephanie Darkes, Exploring Exeter, 2017

The theatre space to seat 250-300 people (part of the long term plan for The Boatshed)

The big idea is to bring the landmark buildings back to life and turn them into a new creative space for Exeter. David spoke enthusiastically of his long term vision for the space, incorporating; theatre, music, craft, a creative co-working space, a floating restaurant and library, rehearsal rooms for local and touring theatre companies, a market for local arts and craft and an artistic softplay for small people, if all goes to plan this will be in place by 2021.

Cocktail bus at The Boatshed Theatre by Stephanie Darkes, Exploring Exeter, 2017

The cocktail bus in the space outside the theatre

In the meantime, David and his team are testing the waters with a summer pop-up that opens this week to include:

  • Ice cream parlour selling delicious Dartington ice cream
  • Mini Exeter based golf course which allows you to putt from Fore Street to the City walls
  • Craft market
  • Outdoor space to hang out and enjoy the sunshine late into the evening
  • BBQs at the weekend
  • Library where you have to donate your favourite book
  • Photobooth based on the camera obscura where you can process and exhibit on site
  • Cocktail bar and of course
  • Festival of theatre in the fifty five seat theatre space.


Are you excited yet? I definitely am.

The project is being funded by a combination of forward thinking Exeter City Council, The Backstage Trust and the crowdfunder set up by David and his team.

The view from the rehearsal room from the Boat Shed, by stephanie Darkes, Exploring exeter

The view from the planned rehearsal space in The Boat Shed


The venue opens officially this week and here’s what you can expect:

Cocktails, Beer, Ice Cream and BBQ’s, from 26th June onwards with food and drink and BBQs.

A summer theatre festival from 27th June to 29th July, incorporating over 60 shows, combining exciting local artists with national visiting companies.

From 2nd August to 2nd September, an Exeter themed mini-golf course will pop up where you can putt your way around Fore Street and the ruins of the city wall. 


Theatre for all

Amazingly you can book 5 shows for £25 and individual ticket prices range between £5 and £8, the idea being to keep the prices low and make the theatre accessible to everyone. 

To book tickets to the summer theatre festival click here


Check out some of my Bike Shed reviews here:

We are Ian – The girls from brilliantExeter based theatre company In bed with my brother are bringing this show to The Boat Shed on 10 /11 /12 July and I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

The Ugly Duckling


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