The Roy Waters Theatre Collection is a privately created collection of theatrical material amassed as a result of forty years of collecting by Roy Waters. The collection primarily comprises of theatrical ephemera, though it also includes the personal papers of Roy Waters, documenting both his career as teacher and later as a school inspector, and his collecting habits and cultural interests.
The nature of the material is diverse, with the printed ephemera including a sizeable collection of programmes from the 19th to the 21st century, collectable items such as cigarette cards, press cuttings collected for their relevance to named individuals and events and photographs reflecting a range of formats including postcards, cartes de visite and cabinet photographs. Toy theatre and juvenile drama are well represented with loose character and scene sheets, tinsel prints and twentieth century stage and script packs forming part of the collection. In addition, the prints series, although primarily consisting of portrait and scene prints of theatrical individuals, also includes a range of topographic and general entertainment prints. Artefacts and commemorative ornaments comprise a series, as do sound recordings relating to the specialisms of the collection in particular productions and well known individuals.
The theatrical ephemera, although initially collected with a broad interest in the theatre in mind, does reflect the specific areas of interest which developed as the collection grew; discreet collections of material relate to specific individuals or events, for instance Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde.
The collection also contains hundreds of individual autograph letters dating from the 18th to the 20th century representing the variety of professions involved in the performing arts, including letters from George Arliss, Sir James Barrie, Phineas Taylor Barnum, Charles Dickens and a sick note for J.S.Grimaldi [Joseph Samuel Grimaldi]. In addition, there are a small number of original art works relating to the theatre.