Early Days
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Bournemouth Little Theatre Club was formed in 1919 as The Bournemouth Dramatic and Orchestral Club.

In the 1920's a private company called Bournemouth Little Theatre Limited was formed and only Club members were allowed to own the ordinary shares with voting rights. The proceeds of a bank loan and a preference share issue raised enough funds for the building of the Club's own custom-designed, 450 seat theatre in Hinton Road which was opened in 1931 as The Little Theatre. This was two years after the opening of the much larger municipal Pavilion Theatre in 1929 in the Lower Gardens.

Unfortunately The Little Theatre was situated in a minor road away from public gaze and proved hard for visitors to find. The name was soon changed to The Palace Court Theatre to signal the fact that the premises backed on to the famous Palace Court Hotel, now the Premier Inn, in Westover Road.

To achieve financial viability the theatre was regularly let to touring companies.

Both directors and actors had to prove themselves with small shows in the theatre's basement space before they were permitted to participate in the main hall activities. A committee chose the plays, selected the directors, then offered them the plays. A director either agreed to put on the play offered or did nothing - there was no alternative! So great was the use of the premises that permanent paid staff were employed on a full-time basis to do those important but under-appreciated tasks that most amateur actors hate to do - taking bookings, managing the building, constructing sets, running the very active bar, and cleaning the place.

Inevitably, World War II affected social activities but the Club remained in business, and resumed in full flight after hostilities ceased. By the mid 1950s the picture was one of seasons packed full of productions by the Club, professional shows, basement starter plays, morning teas and coffees on the Club premises.

The Club was, in fact, so successful that a limit of 1500 had to be placed on membership. The creation - and promotion - of a waiting list lent added value to membership.

The heyday both of the Club and English provincial theatre is often considered to have been in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, when the Club continued to enjoyed high membership numbers.

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Bournemouth Little Theatre
11 Jameson Road

01202 513361
Member of The Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain
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© 2017 Bournemouth Little Theatre Club Limited. Company registered number 2699332. Registered as a charity number 1019571.