Kirklees Theatre Trust and the Lawrence Batley Theatre Archive

Scope and Content

This collection contains the records of the Kirklees Theatre Trust prior to the establishment of the Lawrence Batley Theatre, and after. It also contains ephemera produced by visiting musicians and production companies.

The Community Outreach section contains records relating to the audience development programme, c.2000, which aimed to increase theatre attendance from under-represented groups including black and Asian people; and records of the Friends of the Lawrence Batley Theatre.

The Estates Management series contains minutes, correspondence, drawings and contracts relating to two major capital works programmes: the initial conversion of the building into a theatre, and the redevelopment of the North Wing into better rehearsal space. There is also one document relating to the 2004 redevelopment of 6-8 Queen Street. Photographs of the conversion works can be found in KTT/PTT/1.

The Productions section contains documents which were generated during the process of drafting, developing, rehearsing and staging various in-house productions, staged between 1993 and 2002. Documents include rehearsal schedules, audition contact sheets, draft scripts and musical scores.

The Fundraising records document the efforts of the Kirklees Theatre Trust to generate additional revenue through corporate sponsorship; grants from funding bodies; and donations from individuals through the ‘name a seat’ programme, ‘Gift Aid’ donations, and other schemes (1993-2004).

The Kirklees Theatre Trust Constitution and Committees section contains records generated by the official committees of the Kirklees Theatre Trust from 1991-2000. These incomplete series document the decisions made by the Trust and other stakeholders during the conversion and afterwards. Documents generated during the early 1980s, when the ABC cinema on Market Street was considered as a potential venue to house the theatre, are also featured here.

The Artistic Directorship section contains the working files of the first artistic director, Ron McAllister. He had creative input in many of the theatre’s home-grown productions, and also played a lead role in fundraising efforts. These files reflect his varied role, and feature correspondence relating to the staging of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, bids for grant funding, and the theatre’s creative partnership with the Hudawi Cultural Centre (1996-2000).

At the time of the conversion, the Methodist Church owned the freehold to the theatre building, but the leasehold belonged to the Council. The files in the Legal Affairs series relate to the management of this lease (1989-1997).

Researchers interested in how shows, concerts and events were brought to the attention of the public may wish to consult the publicity files within the Publicity and Marketing section, which contain marketing strategies, press releases and photographs of performers. Additional, loose publicity photographs can be found within KTT/PT/1. The Publicity and Marketing series also contains posters, brochures and programmes (1994-2016).

The Project Management section contains records generated during the lottery funded project to establish an archive of the Lawrence Batley Theatre. It is in this section that the scope of the archive widens, and programmes, press cuttings and other ephemera relating to the history of theatre in Huddersfield generally, and the history of the Lawrence Batley Theatre building are included. Oral history recordings and written reminiscences on these subjects are also present.

Administrative / Biographical History

Kirklees Theatre Trust is a Charitable Company limited by guarantee. It was formed in 1980 in with the aim of establishing a theatre to serve Kirklees and South West Yorkshire. In 1986, it received a grant of £1,000,000 from the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Council to enable it to achieve this aim, on the condition that the Council took overall control of the Trust. This control was later relinquished.

Various sites were examined before the former Methodist Chapel in Queen Street was identified as the most appropriate location for the theatre. Iain Macintosh of Theatre Projects Consultants Limited was appointed to work with Kirklees Metropolitan Council's team of architects, Kirklees Property Services (later Kirklees Design Practice) to produce a suitable design. In 1988, planning permission was granted for phase one of the theatre project: to develop a 420 seat courtyard theatre, a studio theatre (now known as the Attic Theatre), a cellar cabaret venue (now known as the Cellar Theatre), an arts shop, a restaurant, dressing rooms and offices. The aims of the theatre were to: make available a range of facilities tailored to the needs of, and meeting the expectations of, theatre companies, theatre goers and the wider public; enhance the cultural facilities available in Huddersfield; provide facilities for the internationally known Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival; provide a performance space for jazz, folk, and alternative comedy; and offer a facility for cinema.

Building work on the Lawrence Batley Theatre began in 1991. Phase one was completed in August 1994. The theatre was opened officially by Patrick Stewart on 11 September 1994. Further funding was secured from Arts Council England to develop better rehearsal space in the North Wing of the theatre, to construct offices with access for disabled people and to create a shop with income-generating potential. This work began in 1996 and was completed in 1998.

In 1998, the in-house theatre company, Full Body and the Voice (later Dark Horse) was established, and they performed for the first time in 1999. The theatre also hosts work from external production companies, both amateur and professional.


In 1983, Michael Dyson was Chairman of the Trust and G Powner was Secretary.

In 1988, the officers of the Kirklees Theatre Trust included: Lord Harewood as Honorary President, Lawrence Batley and Charles Fenton as Honorary Vice Presidents, Councillor John Mernagh as Chairman, Michael Dyson as Vice Chairman, Val Javin as Development Chairman, and David Bintley and Patrick Stewart as Honorary Patrons.

By 1996, Councillor D Ripley had replaced John Mernagh as Chairman.

In 2016 the trust was governed by eleven trustees, chaired by Andrew Bird. Its objectives were ‘to promote, maintain, improve and advance education by encouraging and promoting drama, dance, improvisation, mime, film and music and [provide] advanced educational opportunities in the arts.’

For further information on the Kirklees Theatre Trust, please see KTT/GV/1/1, KTT/GV/1/12, the 1994 commemorative programme in KTT/MK/4 and the oral history interviews at KTT/PM/1.


The archive has been arranged in a functional classification scheme, and the records have been maintained in their original order where discernable.

KTT/CR: Community Engagement

CR/1: Audience Development

CR/2: Friends of the Lawrence Batley Theatre

KTT/ET: Estate Management

ET/1 Queen Street Chapel Conversion

ET/2 North Wing Conversion

ET/3 6-8 Queen Street Conversion

ET/4 Maintenance

KTT/EV: Productions

EV/1 Production Files

KTT/FD: Fundraising

FD/1 Corporate Sponsorship

FD/2 Other Fundraising

KTT/GV: Governance and Management

GV/1 Kirklees Theatre Trust Constitution and Committees

GV/2 Catering Management

GV/3 Artistic Directorship

GV/4 Front of House Management

KTT/HR: Staff Management

HR/1 Staff Development

KTT/LG: Legal Affairs

LG/1 Property Ownership

KTT/MK: Publicity and Marketing

MK/1 Press Cuttings

MK/2 Publicity Files

MK/3 Posters

MK/4 Programmes

MK/5 What's On Guides

KTT/PM: Projects Management

PM/1 2006 Theatre Research Project

KTT/PT Images and Audio Visual

PT/1 Images

PT/2 Audio Visual

Access Information

These records contain personal data relating to living individuals. The original may be made available for individual consultation if the following terms have been met:

- the Heritage Quay supervisor is satisfied that the researcher is consulting the records for historical research purposes only and will not cause substantial damage or distress to any subject of the records

- the researcher has been alerted to the Data Protection principles that they must follow

- the researcher has signed a Researcher Undertaking form

It may be possible to provide a redacted copy of a record if certain sections contain data that is not suitable for production.

Ask the archivist responsible for the collection, or senior member of staff, if you have any Data Protection concerns around making these records accessible.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The archive contains a variety of storage materials including: files, drawings, photographs, negatives, slides, postcards, video cassettes, audio cassettes, floppy discs and compact discs.

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Helen Raymond

Appraisal Information

Duplicates, low-level correspondence, published books, programmes for theatres from other regions, video cassettes, journal articles and press cuttings which are unrelated to the theatre have been removed. Programmes of Huddersfield contemporary music festival have been removed. They can be found in HCMF/EV.

Custodial History

This archive was created as a result of a 2006 joint project between the Kirklees Theatre Trust and the University of Huddersfield (see KTT/PM/1 for more details of the project). It is made up of donations from the public and records generated by the officers of the Kirklees Theatre Trust and Lawrence Batley Theatre. They were deposited at Heritage Quay in 2006.

Catalogued September 2017.

Related Material

The Lawrence Batley Theatre is used as a venue for the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. For the archive of this festival, see HCMF.


Geographical Names