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The Station Theatre is run by Hayling Island Amateur Dramatic Society (HIADS)

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If you would like to get involved and appear on a real stage, then why not attend HIADS next Reading or Casting.

History of HIADS and the Station Theatre

This history is an extremely shortened version of "From Barn To Station - a brief history 1947 - 2004" written by our esteemed President Captain Derek Oakley MBE for the 200th production in 2004. Hopefully he will not take offence at the liberties I have taken with his incredibly informative and well written booklet.

The origins of acting on Hayling Island are shrouded in the mists of time. Hints of embryo organisations such as 'The Hayling Players' performing pantomimes in the 1930s, and photos headed 'Hayling Island Amateur Dramatic Society' appearing in a 1935 calenders - way before HIADS was formed.

HIADS was first officially formed a very long time ago, way before this quite old webmaster was born. On the 23rd of October in 1947 a group of friends met at 'Springfield', the home of Arthur and Betty Oliver in Brights Lane. At this first get together HIADS was inaugurated and by the end of its first year boasted 72 members at one Guinea (whatever that was) a year. The minutes of the first meeting proclaimed that the Society was formed for the purpose of 'providing relief from the dreadful monotony of the weather on the island'. My how things change!

At the time HIADs had no permanent home, and had to scrounge for venues until in 1949, Captain Ivan Snell MC of Mengeham House (who, not unsuprisingly, became the first President of HIADS) offered to build a stage in his barn. In March, 1950 the first play 'And No Birds Sing' was performed in the Barn Theatre. The stage was constructed from the old planking from the Bailey bridge which had connected the Island to the mainland and actors had to contend with gaps between the planks and standing on the rounded bolt heads used in the construction - the Hayling luvies were a tougher breed in those days! However in 1967, the stage was rebuilt for £130, mainly at the request of the lilly livered School of Dancing who got tired of tripping up and breaking legs - whimps!

By 1970 the cost of seats was 3/6 and 5/-. Now, I'm state educated and if my fractions work out correctly, that means you either payed 50p or an infinite amount - I expect most people were in the cheap seats. By 1976 the good times rolled in with an occasional licence for a bar.

The 100th production in 1983 was a three play festival over three weeks including 'The Killing of Sister George', 'Dial M for Murder' and 'Barefoot in the Park'.

In 1992 the Society heard that the future on their tenure at the Barn Theatre was in doubt, and new premises were sought. An ambitious plan was made to convert the old Goods Shed at the site of Hayling Island Station (closed in 1963) into a 144 seater theatre. The costs for such a conversion were estimated to be between £160,000 and £200,000. The funds in HIADS coffers were about £500! With the backing of the council, a massive fund raising effort was started involving an incredible effort by the HIADS members with every concievable money making scheme pushed forward with full gusto. Along with money making schemes and applications for grants, the members put in an estimated 30,000 hours of effort on the building.

In May 1996, the final production in the Barn Theatre was 'When We Are Married', and HIADS moved out with much affection towards the old building and much gratitude towards its owners for generously allowing the use of the building for so long.

Amazingly, in June of the same year the first produciton 'Travesties' was put on in the new, and not completely finished, Station Theatre.

In July of 1998, "Mrs Brown" was shown at the Station Theatre. This was the first screening of a film on Hayling Island for 37 years and it was a sell-out. Since then, with the aid of donations, HIADS have bought a screen and projector and films are normally shown once a month with a matinee and an evening performance.

The final icing on the cake for the Station Theatre came in the form of a new sculpture 'The Players' by Clare Staiton which stands proudly outside the theatre. This was a project of the five Hayling Schools who raised teh necessary £20,000 through the National Lottery. The finished result, the only original sculpture on Hayling, was unveiled on 17th July 1999 by Tony Hart and has been the subject of much favourable comment.

August of 2004 saw the 200th HIADS production for which 2 plays were played over a 2 week period, each taking the stage on consecutive nights. "Wyrd Sisters" and "The Miser".

The Station Theatre owes its continued success to the generosity and solid support of the people of Hayling Island and surrounding area, the dedication of HIADS members, and the encouragement of Havant Borough Council and Hampshire County Council.