History

A brief picture of the

KING’S THEATRE, NEWMARKET

The King’s Theatre in Fitzroy Street, Newmarket, seats an audience of a hundred and twenty-three. The interior was restored with recovered seats, replaced carpets, ceiling and walls painted and lighting enhanced. This was achieved by the efforts of the members of Nomads (Newmarket Operatic, Musical and Dramatic Society) who own the theatre, and grants from Forest Heath District Council and East Cambridgeshire District Council. Other improvements were possible with a grant of £60,000 from the National Lottery in 1994. We are proud to say that the objectives of the National Lottery and the Councils have been fulfilled by the results achieved.

The Theatre was originally St. Mary’s Church of England School, and during the Second World War it was used as a British Restaurant, where you could get a reasonable lunch for about 6d (i.e. 2 to 3 pence in present day terms). It was then called the Fitzroy Rooms.

NOMADS were an itinerant company of players who lacked permanent premises and when they were finally to leave The White Hart, their Chairman was one Captain H.R. King. He generously bought the Fitzroy Rooms and the NOMADS of the day set about turning it into the theatre you see today. Work on the new premises was voluntary and tales are legion of who did what and how equipment was obtained. Everything was begotten by honest sweat and toil. It was a labour of love for many – some still with us, but others long gone.

The theatre was purchased in 1947 and Captain King bequeathed it to the NOMADS in trust on his death. We do not know how much he paid for it but the premises and equipment are now worth close on half a million pounds. The first performance was in 1955. The theatre is run by the NOMADS board and the society is now a limited company and a registered charity.

The theatre has a large stage and excellent lighting and sound systems run from a box above the audience at the rear of the auditorium, a workroom and two changing rooms, a box office and well equipped bar. The facilities are for hire and provide Country and Western Music, Opera, Musicals, Plays, Festivals, Children’s shows, Meetings and even First Aid Classes and, of course, rehearsals. Details are available form the Secretary at the Theatre. There are no paid officials and members are expected to man the many posts necessary to run events.

There are about 120 members of Nomads and 50 Young Nomads. New members are always welcome. To become a Young Nomad (9-18 years) requires a successful audition before the Youth Leader, his Deputy and a Committee of Young Nomads. Auditions are held in the autumn of each year for the few vacancies created by those who have left. This section of the company have provided a lot of the equipment such as mics at about £1,500 each, paid for the carpet in the foyer and bar and part fund the rental on the photocopier. They are hard working, dedicated, enormously talented and generous.