Durham Dramatic Society sells costumes to raise theatre funds

Durham Dramatic Society sells costumes to raise theatre funds - some of which date back to the Victorian era


The curtain goes up on the sale of decades-worth of costumes on Wednesday as an amateur dramatic society seeks to raise funds to upgrade its theatre.

Durham Dramatic Society has set a target of raising £25,000 for the project.

The money will be spent on refurbishing the bar and other public areas of the society’s 71-seat City Theatre at Fowler’s Yard, behind Silver Street in Durham city centre.

The society moved into the building, which was formerly a restaurant and printing works, in 1986.

Now, the society, which was formed in 1929 and has 70 members, has set the ball rolling by sorting through its wardrobes to sell clothing items which are no longer or seldom used in productions.

A range of items, some dating back to Edwardian and Victorian times, will be sold today by Newcastle auctioneers Anderson and Garland.

Most of the clothing and accessories have been donated to the Society over the years, building up into what has become an unintentional fashion archive.

A pair of shoes from Durham Dramatic Society, at Anderson and Garland
A pair of shoes from Durham Dramatic Society, at Anderson and Garland

Treasurer Wendy Smith said that the society has more than 100 suits and dresses, and “masses” of shoes, hats and umbrellas.

She said: “The sale includes all genuine items, including underwear. Some items have not been used for years.

“People today are a different size to what they were in the past. They are bigger.

“There are some items which have not been used for years and the sale will also give us more space.”

The society, which puts on five productions a year, also now tends to do more modern plays which means there is not so much demand for some dated items of clothing.

And some of the more elaborate items are also not suited to the quick costume-changes required between scenes.

The Newcastle sale includes a wedding dress, 12 shawls, children’s under-dresses, christening gowns, ladies boots and shoes - some dating from the 19th Century - a collection of spats, fur hats, muffs, a black mourning dress, a green silk dress and kimono, capes, cocktail dresses and jackets.

One item, a child’s blue mourning coat, has a label from Ackroyd & Hume of Alnwick and Amble.

Fred Wyrley-Birch, of auctioneers Anderson and Garland, said: “The clothing has been collected by the Durham Dramatic Society over the years and includes some absolutely wonderful examples of Victorian and Edwardian fashions.”

The society’s next performance will be Rope, a play written by Patrick Hamilton which will run from September 14- 20.


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