OUR HistORyA personal quest
Amateur theatre has a long tradition in Glossop, this being mainly in the form of stage productions by local schools and church societies. These concerts as they were often called in the 20s and 30s were mostly discontinued during the Second World War.
When the war ended however, these groups were reformed, as time went on the members of the church societies grew increasingly dissatisfied with the primitive conditions afforded them in many of the church halls. They became increasingly frustrated by the strict matter and language of the theatrical plays they wanted to stage. However, it was not until after suffering many years of discontent that they took any actions to resolve these problems.
In fact, it was not until 1954 that one group of players together with their director Hilda Knight, a retired professional actress, together with several interested and likeminded public figures, got together and formed the basis of a new society which they called “The Glossop Amateur Repertory Club”.
EaRly ‘PlayERs’ – 1957
The main aim of the new society was to perform public plays of literary, educational, and cultural significance. In order to engage public support for the new venture, an extraordinary inaugural meeting was held in the Community House on July 13th 1954 at 7:30 PM.
At the meeting, which was well attended by the local public, the rules and constitution were read and approved. Certain officials were appointed, and consideration was given to such problems as finding a venue for the stage productions and rehearsals, storage space for their furniture, props, wardrobe, and scenery. Although it was not recorded in the minutes, several members of the public signed up to become members there and then, to volunteer their help, either as actors, or in some other capacity.
HavinG tHE advantaGE
The committee was delighted to learn that Miss Joan Heath, a professional actress with Manchester Library Theatre, and a friend of Hilda Knight, had agreed to be elected President of the new Society, and that they had also obtained membership of the British Drama League. The BDL provided the advantage of giving them access to Manchester Central Library, from which they could obtain copies of play scripts on loan.
It was decided that their first production, to be performed on the 5th, 6th and 7th October 1954, would be the play “Bonaventure” by Charlotte Hastings and Directed by Hilda Knight.
LittlE Has cHanGEd OvER tHE yEaRs
Our Theatre has still kept its charm
Partington Theatre was established in 1957, on the second floor of Glossop Liberal Club following the decline of the Liberal movement. As the Liberal Club funds dwindled, they reached out to the Partington Players and offered them the use of part of the building, the first floor as a theatre, the cellar as a dressing/rehearsal room and storage area. Following this development, a new Society emerged and was subsequently named The Partington Social and Theatre Club.
The Society was run by a joint committee with members from each party, and the Chairman appointed from the Liberal Club. The new Society had no political affiliation, and all members paid a membership fee. As a courtesy to the Partington family request was made to use their name and coat of arms, which was granted along with a generous donation. The conversion work was commenced in 1957 and in January 1958 the new theatre opened with a production of the comedy A Hundred Years Old.
Since that time, Partington Theatre has grown into a well-respected local theatre. From humble beginnings as The Glossop Amateur Repertory Club, the Partington Players, now a highly regarded resident amateur theatre company, still perform regularly, producing six plays a year, including a pantomime. In addition, a Youth Theatre was formed in 1986 and over the years, this has expanded to groups of varying ages and today is a thriving part of our programme.
Partington Theatre is additionally home to Peak Film Society and Glossop Jazz Club and works closely with Glossop Improv. Partnerships are being built with Glossop Creates, Glossop Creative Trust and Victoria Arts Centre as well as local businesses.
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sOcial tO liMitEd TO cHaRity
During the 1990’s the previously active social element to the Society dwindled due to various factors, and the word ‘social’ was dropped from the title. The Society was now The Partington Theatre, “what had started life as a Social Club with a theatre had now become a Theatre with a successful social element” and remains so to this day. Transfer of ownership of the building and assets were finally transferred into the name of Partington Theatre in 1972. In March 2014 the Society was converted into a company limited by guarantee, and in June 2018 gained charitable status.
wEar and TEaR
As a Grade II Listed building built in 1914 there have been many repairs required over the years. Following the instalment of the theatre in 1957 several repairs and renovations have taken place, including completely retiling and re-leading the roof thanks to a substantial grant from Derbyshire County Council in the 80s, and a total refit in 1983.
The mid-90s saw the instillation of a fire escape from the auditorium to maintain fire regulations. Partington Theatre is possibly one of, if not the, finest little theatre in the North of England. “It has produced well over 350 plays and 30 One-Act Play Festivals, in addition to playing host to many itinerant professional theatre companies and individual performers and is continuing to do so”. In 2020 the bar and Clubroom were refurbished.
– Read about our Restoration Project –