The Little Theatre
The cinemas may have gone, but live theatre lives
on in Winton. With a small but well-equipped theatre in Jameson
Road, the Bournemouth Little Theatre is the oldest amateur drama
club in the area.
in 1919 as The Bournemouth Dramatic and Orchestral Club, it originally
it had its own custom-designed 450 seat "Little Theatre"
in Hinton Road.
This was opened in 1931 two years after the much
larger municipal Pavilion Theatre. Unfortunately the location
proved hard for visitors to find. The name was soon changed to
The Palace Court Theatre to signal the fact that it backed on
to the well-known Palace Court Hotel in Westover Road.
The Club stayed in business throughout the Second
World War and resumed full activities after hostilities ceased.
By the mid 1950's it staged seasons packed full
of productions, professional shows, basement starter plays and
morning teas and coffees on the premises. The Club was, in fact,
so successful that a limit of 1500 had to be placed on membership.
Several well known actors and actresses started
to make their name at the Little / Palace Court Theatre. One of
the best known is Charles
Gray who specialised in sinister characters - notably in James
Bond and horror movies.
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 and enthusiastic audiences.
But like the cinemas, theatre lost audiences to
television during the 1960's. At the same time there was a fall
in the seasonal family holiday audience. The two factors made
it increasingly difficult to match income against costs.
In 1971 the Hinton Road theatre was sold.
Move to Winton
After a couple of years of temporary accommodation,
the Little Theatre finally moved, in 1975, to its present upstairs
location at 11 Jameson Road in Winton.
The property was originally designed during the
1930s for use as the staff canteen area of the large garage below.
The floor of what is now the auditorium is actually a superbly
sprung dance floor. Over the years a continuous series of alterations
has changed the original, rather stark premises into today's intimate
The auditorium has a capacity of 95 seats, with
all but the back row of 9 bench seats being very comfortable (ex-cinema)
tip-up seats. With the exception of the front row, all seats are
raked to give optimum viewing of the stage. There is an area for
serving interval teas and coffees behind the auditorium and a
corridor leads to the Green Room Bar and other facilities.
The Bournemouth Little Theatre Club continues to
stage a range of productions at regular intervals. Full details
can be found at their website - www.bournemouthlittletheatre.co.uk/