Nestled down an alley on Stockton's high street - the widest in the UK, so I have been told - lies a beautiful yard called Green Dragon Yard. Called so because of the inn that forms part of the yard, it contains some fabulous sandstone buildings and cobbled floors. At the far end of the main entrance to the yard is the Georgian Theatre.

The view down the yard.

Originally a tithe barn, it was later extended in the 18th Century to become a theatre in 1766. It is one of the oldest Georgian theatres in the country, and frequently had performances to entertain the townsfolk. As the theatre suffered, the building fell in to disrepair, and subsequently became a sweet factory. In the 1990s, the building was taken over by Stockton Music & Arts Collective - part of the Tees Music Alliance. Since then, it has undergone a magnificent transformation, and has become a hub for performances ranging from music, acting, plays and comedy. The prestige it now has means it can boast the Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks and James Blunt amongst its past performers!

There are so many buildings, parks, whole areas - both defined and undefined- that are similar to the Georgian Theatre and Green Dragon Yard. Walk by it with your head down and you might never know it is there. Next time you are in a town or village, take the time to look down the alleys that could contain a hidden gem. Explore the park to discover its history - it is almost guaranteed that it is there for a reason, stop and read the plaques that have some wonderfully insightful titbits of information. 

Picture courtesy of

The theatre's transformation was funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund. Like with so many restorations and projects, this fund has meant a building or area that was on its last legs has been given a new lease of life. We at River Tees Rediscovered are also funded by the HLF, so we know just how vital this fund is. It is often that buildings, partnerships and areas do receive funding through this fund, among others, and it shows in buildings and projects across the country what good work is being done. However, in order to keep this transformation going, people need to play the lottery or donate to charities who provide these funds. In all likelihood, you are never going to win the lottery, but why not think of it as a donation to charity like any other? Buying a ticket can mean you can help to transform an area, create jobs, improve economic stability or simply restore an important heritage asset. If you need a reason, why not go and visit one of the projects that has been funded by the HLF, or any other grant-giving body, to see what can be achieved.