History and Timeline

Here you'll find some of the key dates in over 37 years of CTS history. 


In 1984 CTS is formed by WNO and opens its new premises on Ellen Street in Cardiff’s bustling city centre.

Ian Siddall who joined the WNO workshops in 1978 becomes part of the CTS Senior Management Team.

During this time CTS build and develop their business working on sets for Vancouver Opera, Royal Opera House and the National Theatre.



In the early 1990s the CTS Scenic Artists gain a reputation for translating the works of artists into stage shows. Over the years they have worked with David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, William Kentridge, the Wilson Twins, Sue Huntley and Donna Muir.

In 1995 Leejay Burnell joins CTS as a Junior Draughtsperson/Trainer Project co-ordinator. In 2012 Leejay is appointed Workshop Manager and joins the Senior Management Team. John Rushton joins as a casual Scenic Artist in 1997 becoming Scenic Art Supervisor in 2007 and later on promoted to the Senior Management Team.

Significant projects in the 1990s include Peter Grimes for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Ralph Koltai’s Madame Butterfly for Bukamura Tokyo and the 3D theming and murals for the Red Dragon Centre in Cardiff Bay.



CTS continues to grow and build on its client base, including international companies such as Houston Grand Opera, The New York Met and Chicago Lyric Opera.

In 2006 CTS work closely with Russell Beck Studios to build and dress the UK’s first BUN Tower for the Lord Mayors parade in London. It is a massive tower cover in polystyrene balls and must be craned into position.

The Scenic Artists paint massive cloths for William Kentridge’s design for The Nose Opera for the New York Met. CTS also build and paint Christopher Oram’s fabulous design for Billy Budd for Glyndebourne.



In 2011 CTS build and paint Oliver and receive a personal thank you from Sir Cameron Mackintosh who wrote about the St Pauls Cathedral backcloth, ‘To the brilliant crew at CTS. A magnificent achievement. Who needs Christopher Wren. Many, many thanks’

CTS joins the rest of the country in celebrating the London 2012 Olympics. CTS builds the Winners’ Pyramid for the Closing Ceremony watched by 26.3 million people around the world.

Abi Emmett joins CTS as Workshop Supervisor in 2014. She is promoted to Project Co-ordinator and again to Project Manager (Deputy Workshop Manager) in 2017. Olly Shapley joins as Head of Drawing Office in 2015.

In 2018 Darren Joyce returned to CTS as Head of Operations before being made Managing Director in 2019.

Also in 2019 Scenic Carpenter Steve Rees celebrates 50 years of working for WNO & CTS having joined WNO as an Apprentice Carpenter in 1969 at age 15.

During the 2010s CTS deliver an epic new production of Nutcracker to the Atlanta Ballet as well as the stage set for Apollo, an immersive re-telling of the first moon-landing, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the event. La Finta for Glyndebourne, built in 2014, is acknowledged by many to be a landmark production for CTS.



2020 was a difficult year for the industry and during the nationwide lockdown the CTS management team worked hard to keep the business going and to devise new, COVID-safe ways of working. The workshops re-opened on 1 October 2020 picking up on shows which had been put on pause and delivering the set for the National Theatre’s filmed version of Romeo and Juliet.

After 39 years with WNO & CTS, Ian Siddall retired from his role as Head of Scenic Art, he is succeeded by John Rushton.

2021 continues to bring us fresh challenges and exciting projects. In early 2021 CTS deliver a new production of Ivan for Grange Park Opera and a new five-star production of Il Turco for Glyndebourne. CTS also work on the West End revival of Constellations and the UK Tours of Grease and Chicago.  The workshops continue to be busy with projects for clients such as Opera North, Cameron Mackintosh Ltd and Royal Opera House.



Rollering glued panel
massive metalwork
stunning backdrops


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