With an atmosphere often compared to the best parts of bohemian London or something from your favourite European city, over the last 15 years The Garage, the former Bartons bus depot on the border of Chilwell and Beeston has undergone quite a surprising transformation. It’s now gaining a reputation as an amazing cultural venue for, well, just about anything you can think of.
Easy to miss and hidden out of sight along Chilwell High Road, you can often find hundreds of people meeting up with friends, family, or colleagues at a space that, in its most basic description, is an old industrial bus garage and a secluded concrete car park. To some people that’s all it will ever be, but to thousands of others it’s much more than that. The point, say the people behind the cultural activity at The Garage, is not the buildings’ beauty.
“It’s about the people.”
Unassuming and in some cases completely unknown to the up-and-coming leafy suburbs of Beeston and Chilwell, The Garage has been home to a wide variety of events that span over a decade. Starting with the Centenary Celebration of Bartons plc (formerly Barton Transport – you know, the red buses?) in 2008, this successful show spurned something of a renaissance at the former bus works, which has soldiered on since then through destructive tram works in 2014 to most recently a global pandemic and an economic shutdown.
It’s hosted world renowned DJ Gilles Peterson at a 2012 Olympic Games after party (WEYA – World Event for Young Artists) alongside 1500 other guests, and last month welcomed comedian Scott Bennett, on the cusp of the big time and currently supporting the likes of Rob Brydon, Jason Manford and John Bishop.
From live music, stand-up comedy and street food festivals to club nights and weekly markets, The Garage is perhaps one of the most versatile spaces in the UK, and it is going from strength to strength.
Barton Bros. Limited, the 5th generation Barton family to have worked at The Garage since 1913 and current operators, are planning to expand this year. With an eclectic calendar of events to fill every month, the beauty of the concept of The Garage is that it never really stays the same, as it flutters from pop-ups and one-offs. Experience a Budapest themed “abandoned” late night bar, get dressed up for the annual Oktoberfest beer festival, or explore a Market Hall hosting the very best independent businesses alongside one of Nottingham’s top coffee hot spots. You’re bound to either find something to do during your visit that you’ll really enjoy, or fall in love with something you didn’t expect to like at all.
Yet despite the continual shifting and changing, for the public and the hundreds of independent businesses who work there, one constant is that it’s a place that’s welcoming to everyone, and where everyone gets treated like family.
To find out more about this fantastic venue, visit the website at: www.thegaragechilwell.co.uk