History: 3 - Building the Theatre

The Dream Begins

The Shows in the Memorial Hall were good, but the club wanted something more permanent. In 1969 Holsworthy's old Tudor Cinema came up for sale. The light industrial company who had completely gutted the building went into receivership. Estate Agents particulars read 'Premises well constructed and are adaptable for many uses'
The asking price £2,850. James Crumblehulme's dream had begun!



Making the Decision

Puss in Boots opened the 1970's a decade that was to be extremely successful for HATS both on and off stage. However, the main drama was not on the stage but elsewhere - the programme called townspeople to a meeting to discuss the acquisition of the cinema and turning it into a Theatre, see letter of support from Menor Piper published in the Holsworthy Post.

The meeting was held and, eventually, agreed to purchase the cinema. The Theatre club and The Dramatic Society were to merge into a new society called (at the suggestion of Mary Kelley) The 'Holsworthy Amateur Theatrical Society' - H.A.T.S.

Edgar Clark, Val Kelley, James Rowland and Geoff Tucker were appointed Trustees. There was £650 available from the accounts of HATS, interest free loans from Friends and Members (all paid back within three years) and £150 from Holsworthy Rural Council.

The cinema was eventually purchased for £1,700.00 - the bargain of the century!


Creating the Theatre

Excavating the stageExcavating the stageAnd the hard work began to turn a derelict cinema into a theatre we could be proud of. The Mother Goose pantomime opened on 15th January 1971 in the Memorial Hall (our last pantomime there), but rehearsed in the Cinema. It was a bitterly cold winter, we kept our duffle coats on at all times!  

Work on the theatre continued apace, Mike Wood was Clerk of Works. Dr. Blood designed the stage. It was a tremendous effort by people in the town from all walks of life. Holsworthy Town Band turned up with trowels, an army of volunteers dug out the orchestra pit. Excavating the stageExcavating the stageSeats were purchased from a cinema in St. Austell for £1 apiece. Tracking and lights from Trowbridge, plus a cinema screen valued at £500 for a fiver.

Thus, eventually, we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.


The Opening


Original seats, before the house was packed!So the stage was set for Hansel & Gretel our first show in the theatre. We opened on Friday 21st January 1972 to a packed house of V.I.P.s. HATS's Chairman, Arthur Whitlock, introduced Preb. E.P. James, Chairman of Holsworthy Rural District Council and Mrs. Peter Mills, wife of HATS's President, Sir Peter Mills, who declared the theatre open. This proved to be a thermal-underwear pantomime, as not all the holes were filled in before we opened.

The opening of the theatre was the realisation of a life's dream for our Secretary James Crumblehulme fondly known as 'Jim', who devoted every waking moment to the theatre; he and his wife Winifred truly loved the place.


What Happened Next?

H.A.T.S. enjoyed the new Theatre, putting on many Shows in the 70's and 80's. Now see Using the Theatre