Charity No: 260045

About the Society

Pateley Bridge Dramatic Society came into existence in 1937.


Pateley Bridge Operatic Society: The Mikado

Prior to that, a flourishing Operatic Society performed Gilbert & Sullivan Operettas in the Cinema (at the junction of Kings Street and Greenwood Road – now the St Cuthbert’s School playground); they also made an annual trip to Scar Village to perform to the Reservoir workers in the 20’s and 30’s.



In 1935 the West Riding County Council held evening classes in the Council School (now St Cuthbert’s) with Mr Jones, English Master at Harrogate Grammar as tutor.

Mr Jones tried Twelfth Night, but gave up in despair as “no one seemed to have any idea as to how to read Shakespeare”. He turned to one-act plays, and one of them Campbell of Limohr, won the British Drama League Festival in Ripon. Flushed with success, the members decided to form the Pateley Bridge Society of Dramatic Art, and during the following winter they rehearsed The Farmer’s Wife by Eden Philpotts, which was presented in Spring 1937.

 The cast of "A Village Wedding", presented in the Cinema in 1939

In the early days, performances were given in the Oddfellows Hall (the building adjacent to our present Playhouse) or the Drill Hall in Bridgehousegate, but eventually they were held regularly in the cinema. The steeply raked stage, designed for Operatic performances, was a problem, especially when furniture came equipped with castors.


The Society flourished throughout the Second World War, and despite austerity and restrictions, plays were taken to other villages in Nidderdale – Lofthouse, Darley, Hampsthwaite, and Shaw Mills – as well as playing to the troops at Pennypot and Ripon Garrisons. Hundreds of pounds were raised for War Charities.


Plays were mostly of the lighter variety – When We Are Married by J B Priestley, one of the earliest we would recognise today, was performed in 1943. It was suggested that there should be a highbrow play performed in the smaller Church Hall “for those who preferred that type of thing”. Rehearsals took place in the Assembly Room (now the Billiard Room of the Social Club on Millfield Street), Bridgehousegate School, or the Drill Hall.

Station Square and School Hill; the Cinema is the light-coloured building centre left

The Society enjoyed success through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s – “nothing better…..on any stage in Nidderdale” was one comment, although press reports of the day, while being very detailed, didn’t hold back from marked and pointed criticism where it was felt to be deserved.



However, the closure of the Cinema prompted the search for a permanent home; the Playhouse in Church Street, which had originally been a Primitive Methodist Chapel and later a Salvation Army Hall, was eventually purchased, renovated and occupied. (See the section “About the Playhouse” for more details about the theatre premises).



The Memorial Hall was used  while the Playhouse was being renovated, and the last show was given there in 1968. On June 8th that year, the Playhouse opened to great acclaim, and once again the much-loved When We Are Married was the play of choice.



Since then there have been dozens of productions, visiting touring companies, concerts, film shows and charity fundraising events.


 

We continue to thrive: the Playhouse is a delightful place to be, whether as a performer or spectator. If you haven’t experienced it yet, we hope you will soon.


[An entertaining, detailed and well-illustrated account of The Playhouse and the Society, Act Now! has recently been published by Nidderdale’s premier historian and a long-time member of PBDS, Eileen Burgess. Enquires to our e-mail address]

 

We recently celebrated our 75th birthday - further details and photos by clicking here

 

Interested in joining us? See Act Now!


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