BROMYARD’S Conquest Theatre is marking 21 years at its “new home” in the town.
Celebrations will run throughout the year to mark what president and founding member Paul Spelman called a milestone for any theatre.
However, as many local thespians know, the true date of acting in Bromyard goes back past 1991.
The Conquest Theatre was born out of the Bromyard and District Drama Group which first took to the Public Hall stage in May 1950. Play readings were also often held in the Hop Pole Hotel and in members' houses.
In 1976 the chance came to buy the Royal British Legion Hall at 45 Old Road for £6,600.
After three years and three months of hard work, the Conquest Theatre opened its doors to audiences for the first time.
But, as the theatre grew in popularity and audiences outgrew the hall’s 102 seats, the members raised enough money with the help of local businesses to buy the new theatre at Tenbury Road in December 1991.
Mr Spelman, who has been with the volunteer-run theatre since the beginning, said Conquest turned out to be the perfect name for the theatre.
A conquest by name and by nature
He said: “The Conquest name is very fitting – it was a conquest in managing to get it there in the first place, and to maintain it without any public funding is always an achievement.
“It's very satisfying to think that a small town the size of Bromyard has been able to keep the theatre running all the time it has, and, also that people from all over this county and beyond come and visit us.
“To see it reach this milestone is something that was never really thought about at the time, we just got on and did it.
“Yes the theatre is feeling the recession like other places of entertainment.
People are cutting back, but we provide good entertainment for lower ticket prices so that’s helped us ride it better than many other theatres, and our running costs are lower, but naturally it does mean we have to work harder.”
Some members of the Conquest Theatre at the opening of its first home on Old Road in 1979
He said that everyone hopes the next 21 years will be as successful as the first.
“We are always trying to improve the building and the content as we strive to provide entertainment that has something for everyone,“ he added.