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Former theatre staff sought for reunion

This year Winchester’s Theatre Royal celebrates the 40th anniversary of its re-opening as a performance theatre.

The theatre is looking for past volunteers and previous staff members to invite them to a special reunion and celebration event on Thursday 1 November, 40 years to the day since it re-opened. The event will celebrate the past 40 years as well as look forward to the next.

The theatre’s building itself started life as The Market Hotel in 1850. In 1914 it became a cine-variety venue, converting to a full-time cinema in 1924. This cinema lasted for the next 50 years until 1974 when the cinema was closed. Threatened with demolition an action group was formed comprising of six Winchester thespians that were anxious to save the building for use as permanent theatre which Winchester lacked at that time. A charitable trust was formed and subsequently purchased the building in 1977. Theatre Royal Winchester was then opened the following year on 1 November 1978 by the esteemed actor/playwright Robert Morley.

Deryck Newland, Chief Executive comments “It is important that this milestone in the theatre’s history is marked accordingly. It will be a great opportunity for those volunteers and staff who were instrumental in the early years to gather in the theatre to reminisce and celebrate their achievements whilst enjoying some entertainment. The evening will also look to the future and our plans for the building and wider organisation ensuring that the theatre is still here in another 40 years.”

Phil Yates, a founder member of the ‘gang of six’ that saved the building comments, “I hope to meet up again with some of the staff and volunteers from the early years. It will be an evening full of nostalgia I am sure.”

If you were a volunteer or staff member at Theatre Royal Winchester from 1977 to 1985 please contact Kirstie Mathieson on 01962 844 600 or via email

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