Streatham, South London, UK 020 3582 4912

Peter Pan’s almost Lost Boy

I have only one memory of the theatre but it has stayed with me for a very long time. Probably around 55 years or perhaps a little more.

I lived in Streatham – at the Green Lane end of the metropolis – and was out with my best friend on my blue tricycle in the next street. I don’t recall exactly how it happened, but I went down the road (pavement actually) faster than was good for me and collided at the bottom of the road with a very sturdy red letter box. There could only be one winner and it wasn’t me. I took a small slice out of my leg and limped, in tears, back home, which whilst just round the corner, seemed a long way.

That afternoon, my Dad was due to take me to the Streatham Hill Theatre to see a performance of Peter Pan. I was devasted. The tears continued to flow. I desperately wanted to go to see Peter Pan. I’d been looking forward to it for some time. This wasn’t the way the day was supposed to unfold. Mum patched me up with a white bandage and stopped the flow of tears. I was alive! No need for an amputation!

Dad took me to the theatre and I saw Peter Pan. We travelled by bus along Streatham High Road. I really don’t recall anything about the show, but suffice to say it was the best medicine for an injured “soldier”.

After that, my only memory of the theatre was that I passed it every day on the bus as I headed off to Tulse Hill Comprehensive in the latter half of the 1960s.

Ewen Anderson, Brisbane, Australia

Kenneth Cranham remembers Streatham Hill

Kenneth Cranham is a former South London resident and actor who remembers Streatham Hill. He talks in this video interview with photographer Stephanie Black, our Memories Project lead.

Pantomime at Streatham Hill Theatre

Today is #PantoDay! Oh yes it is!

The Streatham Hill Theatre had a long tradition of Christmas pantomimes, staging such well-known stories as Babes in the Wood, Dick Whittington and of course Sleeping Beauty. Going to a panto as a child with the family is often a first, formative experience of theatre. Wouldn’t it be great if we could bring pantos back to Streatham Hill?

Simon Callow saw his very first pantomime, Puss in Boots, starring Jimmy Edwards in 1958 – he recalls the episode in his recent interview for us.

And Gyles Brandreth saw Cinderella in 1960, with Frankie Howard as buttons as he describes in an article on his blog.

We have a number of pantomime programmes in our collection, and here are a few of the cover illustrations.

Jim McManus remembers Streatham Hill Theatre

Jim McManus is a Streatham resident and retired actor who remembers the Streatham Hill Theatre. He talks in this video interview with photographer Stephanie Black, our Memories Project lead.

You can listen to other interviews with Jim here.

Happy 92nd Birthday – Memories of Streatham Hill Theatre

Today, 20th November 2021, is the 92nd birthday of Streatham Hill Theatre. The theatre opened in 1929, a few days late due to unfinished work – it had been due to open on the 18th – with the Cochrane Review “Wake up and Dream!

In recognition of its over 90 years at the heart of Streatham Hill, we are collecting memories from those who worked or visited the theatre over that period.

And, to commemorate this birthday we are releasing brand new video interviews with:

Do enjoy seeing and hearing their memories of the theatre, and if you have any memories to share, please do get in touch with our Memories Project.

Katy Manning reminisces about Streatham Hill Theatre

Katy Manning is a well-known actress and former resident of Streatham, and remembers the Streatham Hill Theatre. She talks in this video interview with photographer Stephanie Black, our Memories Project lead.

Simon Callow talks about Streatham Hill Theatre

Simon Callow, well-known actor, writer and director, was born in Streatham and saw his first pantomime, starring Jimmy Edwards, at the Streatham Hill Theatre, aged 5. In this video interview with photographer Stephanie Black, our Memories Project lead, he talks about his impressions from that visit, and about the theatre and its potential future. Simon is Patron and great supporter of the Friends.

Streatham Hill Theatre added to the national Heritage At Risk Register

Streatham Hill Theatre has been added to the national Heritage At Risk Register of most valued historic places and those most at risk of being lost.

Photo: From left to right: From The Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre: Chair David Harvey, Patrons Baroness Floella Benjamin, DBE DL and Simon Callow CBE, and Lead Architect Armeet Panesar, photographed in the dress circle of the auditorium. © Historic England Archive, Chris Redgrave.

Today, 4th November, Historic England has published its Heritage At Risk Register 2021, with the Streatham Hill Theatre being added to it. The Heritage At Risk Register sets out the historic sites in England most at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.

The 2021 Register describes the Grade II listed Streatham Hill Theatre as “an unusually lavish example of a theatre built outside of the West End and was designed by William George Robert Sprague, one of the leading theatre architects of his generation. It is a rare survival as only a few of his buildings still exist today”.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “In London our theatres are the envy of the world, they provide a stage for aspiring artists and bring a wide range of benefits to our communities.

“That’s why I’m supporting efforts to ensure the magnificent Streatham Hill Theatre is saved for future generations, and why it’s so encouraging Historic England have recognised this is a place like no other and added it to the Heritage At Risk Register.

“I hope others will join me in supporting this remarkable building being transformed into an inclusive, cultural space that will serve the local community for years to come.”

David Harvey, Chair of The Friends said: “Regenerating this unique building would be a game-changer in strengthening our community and supporting our local area. This recognition by Historic England will help us redouble efforts to save the building for cultural use for future generations. We call on all stakeholders to work together actively to save this landmark building and unlock the array of benefits it would bring.”

Also responding:

“Adding Streatham Hill Theatre to the Heritage at Risk Register recognises that this extraordinary listed building needs attention. This is an opportunity to take stock, and build strong relationships between all partners to work towards a better future for this cherished historic place.”
Simon Buteux, Partnerships Team Leader at Historic England

“This announcement adds welcome impetus to the campaign to revamp Streatham Hill Theatre as a community-led arts venue, which would ensure the preservation of our iconic theatre and be a big boost for Streatham’s growing creative scene and local economy.”
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham

“I’m delighted that Streatham Hill Theatre is now on the Heritage At Risk Register. As we come out of the Covid pandemic, it’s just the right time to save this beautiful building for the cultural benefit of our hard-hit, local community. I’ll do all I can to support its rejuvenation.”
Cllr Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, Lambeth Council

“It is fantastic news that Streatham Hill Theatre has been added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk list. This glorious W. G. R. Sprague theatre has been on our Theatres at Risk list since 2017 and we’ve supported it through our Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme and by giving advice to The Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre. Theatres Trust believes it has the potential to be returned to use by the community in south London and to, once more, become an important, lively venue at the heart of the high street. Today’s announcement makes that future seem more realistic, giving the building greater protection.”
Claire Appleby, Architecture Adviser, Theatres Trust

More information and more reactions, including from our Patrons, can be found in the full release here. There are more Historic England photos available in their archive.

Successful Streatham Festival 2021

The Friends staged two activities for the Streatham Festival this year.

Our online Imaginarium will continue to be available for anyone to take a look at the theatre and comment on its potential future.

Our free Treasure Hunt was held on 16th October, with teams exploring the area around the theatre in Streatham Hill, seeking out answers to a range of clues and questions. The best scoring teams were awarded prizes, sponsored by local businesses:

  • Streatham Wine House
  • Dr Doolittles 2
  • Decorators Mate
  • Hood
  • Batch & Co
  • Vinters

Gyles Brandreth and panto at Streatham Hill

In his blog post “What the nation needs now – pantomime!” in June 2020, Gyles says that “Panto has been part of my life since 1960 when I first saw Cinderella at the Streatham Hill Theatre in London, with Frankie Howerd as an outrageous Buttons.”

See his full post here