The history of local churches presenting theatre events in Brighouse can be traced back to the early 1920s.
In December 1923 a small group was formed at St James’s Church to perform what was probably intended as a series of ‘one off’ concerts. This church opened in 1870 and was used until December 27 1970, then shortly after it was demolished. On the site today are the St James Court flats which are next to JC Bates garage on Bradford Road.
The group’s first effort proved to be so successful that many of what were small concerts saw repeat performances over the next few months.
The group’s first full production ‘Floradora’ opened in September 1924 at the Sugden Memorial Hall, Bridge End. The man responsible for getting the best out of these amateurs and produce what was described as a first class musical comedy was a Mr Evans and musical director Christopher Peacock.
This successful performance saw the birth of what became known for a few years as the St James Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.
Through the generosity of Mr Richard Woodhouse and the Sugden family the Memorial Hall was the scene for their 1925 performance of ‘The Earl and the Girl’; 1926 ‘A Runaway Girl’; in 1927 ‘San Toy’ and in 1928 ‘A Country Girl’. Local churches continue this tradition of organising theatre performances and concerts.
In this photograph are the members of the 1995 production at the Central Methodist Church Musical and Dramatic Society’s ‘Central Showtime 95’. This was a production produced by Frank Thurlow who was ably assisted by Collen Thurlow.
This production was held in November 1995 and had all the ingredients of music both instrumental and singing along with lots of good humour and enthusiastic audiences.
Here are the members of the chorus line photographed on October 31 a few days before the curtain went up and include: Helen Clayton, Kay Farrow, Anne Haigh, June Holmes, Jeannie Ingham, Janet Smith, Helen Stafford, Beverley Taylor, Susan Yates, John Barker, Paul Corp, Brian Clayton, John Holmes, Malcolm Ingham and Barry Thurlow.
Whilst these are just some of the front of stage performers a production like this could not work without the many unseen backroom staff. Stage manager Clifford Riley, electrician Chris Hartley and the man making sure the solo performers were in the spotlight, Geoff Young. The Call Person Nicola Clayton made sure you were in the right place at the right time and Peter Biggs acted as the front of house manager.