A large collection of costumes, props and equipment amassed by a Wiltshire theatre company over 40 years will be going to auction in June.The curtain at RAF Lyneham fell for the final time last year as the airforce bowed out of the base.
The closure of the airbase has left the Lyneham Stage Club, which has put on plays and pantomimes at the Juliana Goss Theatre since 1969, homeless.
The club started in 1940, and the theatre – named in honour of the actress and military wife who badgered successive station commanders into erecting a purpose-built theatre – was opened in 1969 as the New Theatre. It was renamed after Goss’ death in 1977.
The club began by recruiting actors from the ranks of military personnel and their families, but over time has attracted thespians from the civilian community too.
Christopher Bartle, who has been a member of the club since 1979, said: “Our most recent performance was at RAF Cranwell on the bank holiday weekend, as part of the Royal Air Force Theatrical Association One Act Play Festival.
“We performed Noel Coward’s Red Peppers, and Alice Gerstenberg’s Ever Young.
“We’re going to try and keep the club going, but we have nowhere to rehearse and certainly nowhere to store everything, which is why we’re selling it.”
Patsy Bartlett, the theatre’s wardrobe manager for twenty years, said: “ Lyneham Stage Club has won awards for its costumes, and we’re selling everything from shoes and sandals to bustles, bumps and boobs!
“We’ve got a set of adults’ and children’s Eskimo costumes from The Snow Queen, pantomime dame outfits, period military costumes and clothes from the 20th century.”
Besides the costumes, the club will be selling sound and lighting equipment, props – including furniture custom-made for the club’s first ever performance, Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones – and even the stage curtains.
Iris Bartle, who met husband Christopher on the stage of Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre in The Recruiting Officer 25 years ago said: “At one stage there were 35 members of the club, and we still have 12, so we’re hoping we can go it alone.
“We’re very sad to be selling our costumes, props and equipment, but we have nothing but gratitude for the RAF, who provided us with a theatre and electricity for over 40 years.”
The collection will be sold by auctioneers Moore Allen & Innocent in Cirencester on Friday, June 15. For an auction catalogue, call 01285 646050 or log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk