History: 2 - Early Days

The Crumblehulmes

We shall concentrate on the story of The Holsworthy Theatre Club, which would not have happened without the Crumblehulme Family - James and Winifred Crumblehulme with daughter Mary married to Val Kelley and Bill who married Pam Tidball.

They arrived in Holsworthy in the 1950's; Val Kelley being posted to the town by Barclays Bank. When Val and Mary had got their feet on the ground, they were a breath of fresh air and threw themselves into the life of Holsworthy.

The whole family had a long tradition of involvement with the theatre. Mary and Bill's Grandparents performed in Musical productions before the First World War. James Crumblehulme was involved with lighting at The Tower Circus Blackpool. Winifred was involved on stage and Bill followed in his father's footsteps with lighting at The Grand. Without this family and their total commitment to live theatre - there being no excuse for second best in any of the 90 odd shows presented - the Theatre would not have happened.

Our First Shows

SunnyThose early Shows of the Theatre Club - Sunny, Bob's your Uncle, Me and My Girl, Blue for a Boy - were all a great success, produced by Mary Kelley with many early members in starring rôles.

Programmes for these shows were a rôle-call for firms and shops that are sadly no more - Kinvers, Albert Oke, Underwoods, Bluetts, Harry Clegg, Tidball & Beckley, Pengelly's Triggers, Pethericks, J.P.Whitlocks, J. Parsons & Sons, Kellaways, Thomas Oke & R. Sillcock & Son.

Music for these shows was supplied by The Holsworthy and District Orchestra under the direction of Arthur Hancock - the rôle-call of members included Barbara Pearson, Colston Isaac, Bill Skinner, George Ley, Gwen Holmes to name but a few.


Our first Home

In 1962 we moved to our new headquarters in Chapel Street. Two store rooms behind what was then Lower Kinvers and Barbara Holnes's Tobacconist come Barber shop, now Steve Watson's Washing Machine shop and Holsworthy Travel. We used one room for meetings and rehearsals the other for storage. We had some good times in Chapel Street; it was our home throughout the 1960's.


Mary Kelley

Mary KelleyMary Kelley produced most of the Theatre Club shows in the early days. She ran a very disciplined show - you were not expected to make a noise backstage, nor go outside the Memorial Hall with your makeup on. She created many of the 'values' that still exist in H.A.T.S. today.

However, in 1964, Val was appointed Bank Manager in Plympton and A Cuckoo in the Nest was the last show she produced in this first period of her involvement with our society's history. However, the society had put down strong roots and much to Mary's delight the productions continued apace.


New Blood


The mid 1960's were a hugely important time in the development of the society, a talented group of young people came along, have stayed ever since and helped HATS become a huge force for good in terms of the artistic life of the Town and wider area.

Des Shadrick and Celia Sanders had been around for a while but Annette Vanstone (now Dennis), Phil Barfett, Mary Brock (now Osborne), Robert Painter and Brian Soby cut their teeth and were completely smitten by the theatre.

It was Bill Crumblehulme, who over the next four years produced our plays, allowed their talent to flower. He produced some great plays - Is Your Honeymoon Really Necessary in 1966, then One Wild Oat in 1967 (see actual 'Post' review), followed by our 10th Anniversary production Reluctant Hero's. Bill's philosophy was quite simple; his plays were designed to allow you to forget the world outside with all it's cares, laughter is the sound of 'angels singing'.

Mary and Val returned from Plympton in the autumn of 1967 and in November Mary began rehearsals for our first pantomime Dick Whittington.


What Happened Next?

The two groups looked for a permanent home. Now see The Theatre