Charity No: 260045



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The Playhouse 


The building which is now the Playhouse began life as a Primitive Methodist Chapel in 1859. When the Methodists united as part of a national policy in 1933, the congregation transferred to the Wesleyan Chapel on Ripon Road.



After 3 years the Salvation Army bought the building and was highly successful for some time, but by the late fifties the congregation had dwindled to a few old ladies, and the officer was withdrawn to Harrogate.




The empty building was subject to flooding as a beck ran under the floor; pews and furniture were beginning to rot. PBDS resolved to buy the building, but had only £30 in reserves. A purchase price of £125 was finally agreed on – a seemingly absurd figure, but at the time, property values were very low in the area, and the building was in a degraded condition. Also in the Society’s favour was the fact that the vendors wished the building to be used for a community purpose rather than converted to a supermarket, bingo hall, or bookies, for which purposes approaches had already been made.

Plans were drawn up, and over a period of years, the transformation took place. Astoundingly, throughout this period, the Society never once went into debt to fund the project. A great deal of voluntary work took place, and local businesses gave generously of time and materials.


The Playhouse held its first performance – When We Are Married – on June 8th 1968.


Modifications and improvements have continued since. A major refurbishment of the seating in 1995 was paid for by individual sponsorship: the nameplates still proudly reflect the generosity of the sponsors.













Similarly, the funds for our two splendid stained and painted glass windows, designed and created by the artist Evan Jones, were raised by sponsors pledging money for each section. They remain a unique eye-catching feature of the Playhouse façade.


During the enforced Covid closure of the theatre 2020 to 2022, an extensive refurbishment of the public areas of the theatre has taken place.  Funded by grants and many generous donations the Playhouse has a new foyer and refreshment area, new toilets including a disabled toilet, new changing rooms and green room, new purpose-built wardrobe store and most important of all, a lift from the ground floor to the auditorium with a wheelchair space. 


And so we arrive at today: a modern 73-seat theatre, with a healthy lighting rig and sound system, an audio loop system, and heating and air conditioning all adding to the comfort along with refurbished public areas and a lift to the auditorium 


At the front of the building the foyer has a refreshment area which serves wine, beer and soft drinks before and after performances, and during intervals.


The Theatre re-opened on the 8th of March 2023 with a performance of Rude Awakenings by Nicolas Ridley which was the Society's entry for the Nidderdale and District Drama Festival.  The play was performed before an invited audience of Society members.


The Theatre re-opened to the general public on 17th April 2023 with a performance of See How They Run by Philip King.


Please note that access to the auditorium is via two curving staircases each of 15 steps but has recently been dramatically improved with the addition of the lift with dedicated wheelchair space.  




You can help raise funds for these and future improvements by simply subscribing to easyfundraising which generates funds as you shop online.  For more information click here.






[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]

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