In 1964 in Wandsworth Town Hall, two after-school drama clubs merged and called themselves ‘Group64’.
In 1968, they moved into the leaking, pigeon-infested ex-Union Church. Built in 1860 by Sir Samuel Morton Peto (who also did Nelson’s Column), the church belonged to London County Council who intended (but never got round to) demolishing it. In July 1968, after 6 months hard work by volunteers, the new theatre was opened by the Mayor and Sir John Mills, a G64 patron.
Over the next 30 years the building was held together by generous donations and legacies, sheer determination and the tireless work of volunteers, whilst the theatre group went from strength to strength.
In 1998 the landlord, Wandsworth Council, decided to end the lease and sell the site. With only a matter of weeks before eviction, we managed to raise a Lottery Grant to buy the freehold – which saved the theatre, but meant that all responsibility for upkeep and development falls to the charity that now owns and runs it. For more information about Putney Arts Theatre including how to hire space, please visit the website.
In 1999, the older members of G64 united with the long-established Putney Players adult theatre group, to form Putney Theatre Company, which became the resident adult theatre company. This balance of the youth and adult groups is a unique strength for Putney – each providing mutual support and critical financial contributions.