top of page

HISTORY 1955-1959



Most of the following accounts are provided courtesy of Charles Gover & Sheila Wells, recorded by Jim Wilson.1955. In January 1955

Miss Collingbourne resigned on her marriage (becoming Mrs. Felix) and Barbara Jones took over as Secretary.


In the Spring of 1955. Three One-Act Plays were performed written by A.A Milne, Thornton Wilder & Chekhov, produced respectively by Janet Goddard, Sheila Rumney & Derek Timmins. The shows were a financial and artistic success. At the clubs AGM in June of that year, particular note was recorded that:


1. The presence of Further Education Officer Mr Robinson showed that the Club was now being officially recognised as a local amenity.

2. For the first time the Club had a balance in hand – of over £4.


Charles Gover remained chairman, Sheila Rumney became Secretary and Mrs Eagleton the Treasurer. The proposal to have a president was referred to the Committee who had decided against it and The Downs Players based at Keymer (Not to be confused with the 'Downlanders'), dissolved and after meeting with BHTC Committee, agreed to amalgamate funds and members.




However in January 1956 a crisis developed. Unfortunately Sheila Rumney had to resign on the grounds of ill-health and the club found an inability to put on an Autumn production at all – let alone enter the annnual Festival. Yet again the question was raised of whether the Club should continue at all. For the foreseable future Charles Gover also carried out the secretaries role; writing out notices by hand and delivering in person until Mrs Shelton agreed to be Secretary.


Again at the AGM on 13th June 1956 the minutes read like a lament: “no working party, nothing to work on, no production (including no forward play) no wardrobe” but some play reading done. For all this the club actually had a profit of over £8 in hand. At this point Peter Sinden took over as Chairman and Barbara Duckworth as Secretary. This was also the first appearance as Committee member of Trevor Phipps.


In the Autumn 1956 “White sheep of the Family” was produced by Sheila Rumney who had happily recovered from illness and who, as a personal note. recorded that it was the first time in history of the Club that she had seen a production from the auditorium (Presumably because Sheila had always been backstage in one role or another?) This production was also the first appearance on stage of Trevor Phipps and again the production was entered for the Sussex Rural Community Council’s drama festival. Unfortunately the production made a slight financial loss.




In the Spring of 1957 there seemingly was a change of organiser of the St. Andrews Church & Hall premises, with a note made that

Mr. Cobb had moved on replaced by a Mr Snelling, who advised the club they could no longer use the hall for productions. 


Joy Sinden proposed using the Boxing Hall and producing an 'Arena' style production for the next show which was "Saloon Bar", which was very well received by the press, a great boost to the club and actually made a profit of £3. The show also incorporated a large number of cast with the first appearances of Valerie Pembroke, Clive Jacklin, Tony White, John Stallwood and Denis Nye among many others.


At the club AGM in June of 1957, a suggestion was put forward to consider using the St. Johns Institute for future productions. Club membership had risen from 22 to 39 and the club's first ever President was elected – Mrs Eagleton. The same year a float was entered in the Goose Fair procession to again highten awareness of the clubs presence in the town.


In the autumn of 1957, Barbara Duckworth retired from the position of Secretary and Sheila Rumney took over. “Dear Brutus” (No production details have yet become available), was produced and lost £8. This would have been fatal for the club 12 months before, but was made up by donations. The Theatre club affiliated itself to the currently being built Park Centre but also adopted the policy of having play readings in Members’ homes.




In the Spring of 1958 "Golden Rain” was performed which was produced by Sheila Rumney and made a tidy profit of £6. Extracts from the production were repeated on 7th May 1958 as part of the opening celebrations of the Park Centre. Peter Sinden represented the Club on the Park Centre Committee and meanwhile the “Club Spirit” continued to flourish with Barbecues, Socials and Dance's, etc.


Indeed according to the attached copy of the 'The Ratepayer' (November 1958), the club had recently again participated in the town Goose Fair by preparing a carnival float around the personality and plays of William Shakespeare - but as acknowledged, the club at that time had not yet performed any Shakespearian performances.


Later that year at the AGM a new President was appointed (Mr Hills) and Trevor Phipps became the new chairman, with Betty Dann as the new secretary. At that meeting the idea was proposed of a non-acting, non-voting associate membership for those that didn't want to get actively involved but still wanted to support the club. For the first time a printed membership card was produced outlining the forthcoming proposed club activities and productions.


(1958) Promoting The Club - The Ratepayer



bottom of page