Heritage programmes found in late Princes Theatre-goer's home

Thursday, 6 September, 2018
Princes Theatre technical manager Kai Aberdeen with some of the heritage items.

Historical programmes from Clacton’s Princes Theatre, dating back more than 60 years, have been added to the venue’s archive after they were rescued from a theatre-lover’s home.

Julia Willis, from Swaffham, Norfolk, sent in the memorabilia after the items were found while clearing out the house of a late friend, who also lived in the town.

The items found included a series of programmes from the Penguin Players’ Summer Repertory Season in 1956, as well as a Clacton Carnival programme from that year and a newspaper clipping.

They belonged to Kath Goodrum, who along with her sister Hazel and best friend Beth Fisher, were keen amateur dramatics fans and often travelled to the theatre together.

Born in 1918, Kath lived in Swaffham her entire life and met Bertha (Beth) when they were paired up as volunteer first aiders during the night in the Second World War. The duo became life-long friends, with neither of them marrying and the pair often shared holidays together as well as theatre trips – taken in Kath’s beloved Morris Minor.

Both Beth, a primary school teacher, and Forestry Commission worker Kath, were members of the Swaffham Players – formerly the Phoenix Players – for many years.

The pair are buried side-by-side in Swaffham Cemetery, with Hazel, a pharmacy dispenser, a short distance away.

Julia, and another close friend Olive Wilson, helped to care for the two sisters and described all three ladies as “complete darlings”, adding it was lovely to be able to spend time with them all, even if it was short-lived.

She, Olive, and other close friends helped clear out Kath and Hazel’s home after Hazel passed away in 2013, aged 88. They discovered the ladies had kept most of their memorabilia, uncovering a treasure trove of lifetime memories, and sought to pass them on to their correct homes.

However, it was not until recently that Julia found a forgotten bag of historical theatre brochures from venues right across England, including the Princes Theatre and Bournemouth, as well as several in Norfolk, and sent them on.

Mick Skeels, Tendring District Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, said what a great addition to the archives this story was.

“It’s always great when we receive items charting our brilliant theatre’s rich history,” Cllr Skeels said.

“I would like to thank Julia for her discovery and for allowing the theatre to add the documents to its archives, along with Olive Wilson another friend of Beth, Kath and Hazel who helped Hazel recall these wonderful memories.

“The story of these three women is really inspiring and it’s lovely to hear how much they enjoy visiting different theatres.

“I hope this encourages more people to send in memories of the Princes Theatre or even visit to watch a show.”

For information on shows coming up at the Tendring District Council-run Princes Theatre, visit www.princestheatre.co.uk

Last updated on: 06/09/2018 - 13:00