WHILE we're commemorating the 75th year of Bingley Little Theatre, with our production of When We Are Married, I thought people would appreciate a snippet of information about the parallel history of Keighley Playhouse, of similar antiquity. Interestingly, its first production, just like ours, was of this play!

Keighley’s theatre group was formed in June, 1947, when Frederic W Pye got together with seven like-minded people in a house in Oakworth and discussed the viability of forming a small amateur company to stage plays.

The first play produced was When We Are Married, by Bradford-born playwright JB Priestley (1894-1984), which was staged in January, 1948. Pye directed, starred in and costume designed this first production. The theatre group repeated When We Are Married several times including in 1950 and as recently as 2014 (which was directed by myself, director of Bingley's forthcoming production!).

In the early months of 1949, the theatre group was offered the lease on the premises in Devonshire Street that became home to the amateur theatre company. Those premises were Devonshire Hall, originally part of the Liberal Club on Scott Street, which had been erected at the very end of the 19th century. Devonshire Hall had been used for lectures, functions, dances and so on (and continued to be for hire through Keighley Little Theatre). Having been looking for a permanent home, the lease was taken up. A stage and proscenium had to be built with an appropriate new lighting rig. The first production at Devonshire Hall was Ladies in Retirement by Edward Percy and Reginald Denham, staged in September 1949 and directed by Eric B Broster.

It was a busy year for the theatre group in 1951. It marked the Festival of Britain, and alongside producing six plays in Devonshire Hall, they also put on two plays as part of the Bronte Festival, performed in Haworth Church School. In 1969, Keighley Little Theatre rebranded as Keighley Playhouse and continues to put on productions to this day.

Robin Martin, Bingley Little Theatre

* The latest Bingley Little Theatre production of When We Are Married runs from December 4 to 9 at Bingley Arts Centre, 7.30pm. Tickets are £10. To book, call 01274 567983 weekdays 10am to 1pm, or visit bingleyartscentre.co.uk