Scene One: Humble beginnings 1948-1959

After the war, times remained hard and the memories and effects of the conflict were still a very large part of everyone's existence. To combat the stresses of everyday life, a group of local thespians formed Holybourne Dramatic Society on the 5th of January 1948, the same month and year as British Rail was formed.

The first two shows were produced and directed by Mr Percy Nash, the Club chairman, these were Interference (April 1948) and The Trial of Mary Dugan (Oct 1948) both performed in the Holybourne School Hall. Unfortunately, soon after Mr Nash left the village and there was a hiatus in performance for more than a year.

During this time the Complins site had lain derelict and all the huts, except one, had been dismantled. As the site was developed, that one little hut, housing a dilapidated theatre, remained untouched until Spring 1950, when the owner rented it, and some of the surrounding land, to the two year old Holybourne Dramatic Club (renamed at an EGM in May 1950).

The theatre had fallen into disrepair, little more than a desolate shell without furnishings or decorations. This situation would have daunted many, but the club worked hard to raise the necessary funds and agree loans to start putting on performances. Driven by the inspiration of Fred Elliott, an ex RAF school master who was teaching in Alton at the time, they worked hard and achieved their goal within six months, and paid off all loans within two years.

The renovated theatre, which included carpets, curtains and 200 tip up seats, was ready just in time for the first night performance of J.B Priestly’s “Mystery at Greenfingers” on 23rd November 1950.

At this time, televisions in the home were rare, and Holybourne Dramatic Club found their membership growing rapidly as local people looked for sources of entertainment.

During those early days, the productions ranged from classic comedies to dramas. Even Shakespeare was not beyond the reach of those early pioneers with an excerpt from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed at one of the Dramatic Club’s annual garden parties.

Can you help with missing dates or photos?

Mystery at Greenfingers 1950
The Paragon 1951
Love In a Mist 1951
Fly away Peter 1952
The Ghost Train 1953
Worm's eye view 1953
A Midsummer Night's dream 1953
Night must fall 1953
Come back Peter 1954
Without the Prince
Duet for two hands
On Monday next 1959-60
Charley's Aunt
Gioconda smile
  • Mystery at Greenfingers 1950
  • The Paragon 1951
  • Love In a Mist 1951
  • Fly away Peter 1952
  • The Ghost Train 1953
  • Worm's eye view 1953
  • A Midsummer Night's dream 1953
  • Night must fall 1953
  • Come back Peter 1954
  • Without the Prince
  • Duet for two hands
  • On Monday next 1959-60
  • Charley's Aunt
  • Gioconda smile