Pit Prop Theatre Company Archive

Scope and Content

The archive contains papers relating to productions, including scripts, research notes, programmes, publicity materials and photographs. There is also correspondence relating to funding, administration and the closure of the Company. The collection will be of particular interest to drama students and theatre historians, but it also has wider significance for the history of popular culture, social studies and research into arts funding in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Pit Prop Theatre Company was founded in 1979, and throughout its 15-year life was based in Leigh near Wigan, Lancashire. It was a radical company which set out to challenge many of the assumptions and attitudes prevalent in society. For example, productions were inspired by the miners' strike of 1984-85, the anti-apartheid movement and racial prejudice.

The Company was originally funded by Theatre Mobile, and later jointly by the North West Arts Board and Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council. It was housed in the College of Further Education in Leigh. Almost all productions were commissioned by the Company, which was staffed by fourteen actors, who recruited directors, designers, lighting engineers etc. for each production. The Company was particularly active in the theatre-in-education movement pioneered by Peter Slade, touring schools and community theatres. Pit Prop Theatre Company had faced cutbacks throughout its existence; in the early 1990s, North West Arts appointed a consultant who reported that the Company should become more commercial. This conclusion was rejected by the Company, who believed it would compromise their fundamental aims, and in consequence, they disbanded the Company in 1994.


This uncatalogued collection has not to date been arranged into series.

Access Information

Most of the collection is open to any accredited reader, although some individual items may be closed under the terms of the Data Protection Sct 1998.

The archive contains personal data about living individuals, and readers are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 in their use of the material. This finding aid also contains personal data about living individuals. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately, according to the Data Protection Principles.

Acquisition Information

The archive was deposited at the Library in 1997 by Cora Williams on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Lancashire Regional Theatre Company Limited.

Other Finding Aids


Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Related Material

The Library also has custody of the papers of Peter Slade GB 133 PS, who pioneered the theatre-in-education movement, and influenced the work of the Pit Prop Theatre Company.

Geographical Names