Arts Theatre Club

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Arts Theatre Club, East London.

Founding, function and history

Since the early 1940’s, East London’s Technical College Drama Club and East London’s Schools Music and Drama Association were involved in providing local theatre entertainment in the city. In the early 1950's, they were joined by the Dramatic Society of East London, the Music and Variety Club and the Children’s Theatre to raise funds toward the building of what was to be the Guild Theatre.

The Music and Variety Club and the EL Technical College Drama Club amalgamated in 1962 with the Arts Theatre Club being its new name.

The aim of the club was to provide local entertainment and to encourage visiting artists to perform locally, and in December 1962, the Arts Theatre Club put on Peter Pan, their first pantomime, at the newly opened Guild Theatre.

Over the next decade, many productions followed, until the club amalgamated with the East London Light Operatic Society in 1976. The Arts Theatre Club name was retained.

The Arts Theatre Club has produced local drama productions over the past 50 years and has always encouraged visiting artists to utilize the venue.


By the start of 1965, plans were underway to find a permanent headquarters and rehearsal venue for the club and it was decided to purchase property in Paterson Street. In the late 1980s, the property in Paterson Street was turned into a small theatre, The Arts Theatre. The first phase of alterations was completed in March 1987, coinciding with the club’s 25th anniversary. Phase two of the alterations were undertaken in 1991. In February 2021, the building in Paterson Street was sold.


1962: Peter Pan.

circa 1967: The Wizard of Oz.

1980s: Scapino (directed by Margery Moodie); No, No, Nanette (directed by Mary Kockott)

1984: Winnie-the-Pooh (directed by Joseph Ribeiro)

1985: Listen to the Wind (directed by Brian Cook)

1986: The Wizard of Oz (directed by Glynn Day)

1987: The Golden Goose (directed by Brian Cook)

1988: Wait Until Dark (directed by Colin Ward); Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood (directed by Robin Williams)

1992: Alice in Christmas Wonderland (directed by Brian Cook)

2012: Evita.


Material held by NELM.

'A history of East London’s theatres', ShowMe (online), 1 August 2019 (

DispatchLIVE, 18 February 2021.

What's On, December 1987

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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