This film is part of Free

Leatherhead Repertory Theatre

Leatherhead gets a new theatre in this fascinating film which records its construction - with visits from stars of stage and screen as well as a grand Royal opening.

Amateur film 1969 18 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


This remarkable film record of the construction of Leatherhead's Thorndike Theatre starts with scenes of the old theatre followed by a sponsored walk, organised to raise funds for the redevelopment. Next we see the old Crescent Cinema being demolished to make way for the Thorndike Theatre followed by a ceremony with Dame Sybil Thorndike herself. Construction of the new theatre follows and then it's opening night, attended by Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon.

The Crescent Cinema, seen in this film and which the Thorndike Theatre replaced, was opened in 1939. It closed in 1966 to make way for the new theatre which was designed by Roderick Ham after a public fund-raising exercise which included the sponsored walk seen in the film. Named after Sybil Thorndike, the theatre was to be a 'cultural centre' with much use of exposed concrete and open walkways. Opened in 1969 the theatre gained a reputation for quality drama but struggled to make ends meet. It finally closed in 1997.