Cambridgeshire

Campaign to save Brampton Little Theatre at RAF base

Cast of Move over Mrs Markham in the 1970s
Image caption The theatre company has been putting on productions at Brampton Park Theatre for decades

A campaign has begun to save a village theatre listed as "at risk" by the Theatres Trust.

Brampton Little Theatre, which is on the former RAF Brampton station near Huntingdon, could be demolished when the base is sold for development.

"It's the only purpose-built theatre for about a 20 to 30 mile radius," said Caroline Harbord, secretary of the Brampton Park Theatre Company.

RAF Brampton is scheduled to be sold for development in 2013.

Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which is responsible for selling off the site on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), is drawing up a planning application.

This includes the demolition of the theatre and its replacement with a community building.

But a spokesman, who described the theatre as a briefing room, said any future use would be determined by the site's purchaser.

Eileen Collier, a Brampton parish councillor, has seen these draft plans and does not like them.

"The planners seem to be proposing a new community building," she said.

"But I think, as a personal view and not a parish council view, because the parish council hasn't taken a formal view on the site or the theatre, it will be sad to lose a little bit of RAF history."

Earlier this year the Theatres Trust put the building on its "Theatre Buildings at Risk" register.

It has also written to Huntingdonshire District Council in support of the campaign to save the theatre saying: "Although built by the RAF for another purpose, it is clear that the building has been refurbished and equipped over many years as a working theatre."

'Small and intimate'

Brampton Little Theatre was built sometime after World War II and was initially used as a cinema for the servicemen and women, before becoming a theatre.

Image caption Campaigners believe the theatre building could become the hub of a community centre

It has nearly 100 tiered seats, two dressing rooms, a raised stage, and light, sound and projection equipment.

Brampton Choral Society and the theatre group have been putting on three or four productions there for the past four decades.

Ms Harbord admits the building has no architectural merit, but said: "I've acted in many places, including in the ADC Theatre in Cambridge, and for me Brampton will always have a unique and special place because it is so small and intimate."

Mrs Collier said: "It's like going to the West End really, because you settle back in wonderful seats, the curtains go back and you're captured."

Brampton Park Theatre Company believes the theatre could become the hub of a community centre for any future housing development, by using the adjacent airmen's mess for meetings and youth groups.

Huntingdonshire District Council is holding meetings with Brampton residents to discuss the site's use, which is expected to include a mix of housing and offices.

The council sent the following statement: "We are in the early stages of a consultation process to agree the future of the whole MoD site, of which this building is a part.

"We are running several open meetings where we encourage residents to come forward and make their views known to us about the future of the site, including the building from which the theatre company currently runs.

"All views will be taken into account at the conclusion of the consultation period."

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