All about the Westovian Theatre Society - Pier Pavilion South Shields

History of the Westovians

The Westovian Dramatic Society was formed by the teaching staff at Westoe School in October 1912. The first ever production was of "Nicholas Nickleby" in 1913. The Society re-formed, in 1918, after some of the young ladies wished to enrol their men friends and some teachers did not think it 'proper'. At the start they performed one play a year, with rehearsals in Westoe Secondary School and productions in any available venue. During the Second World War the the group entertained the troops as an ENSA Unit of Northern Command.

Parkers cafe in Ocean Road and The Havelock Inn were rehearsal venues, with productions in Stanhope School Hall. Junior groups have been active since 1945 and young thespians have taken an active part in the society since the late forties. The section still flourishes today.

In the early 1950's productions were staged in St Aidans Hall and later in the Pier Pavilion. "Westovian House" (21 Beach Road) was purchased in 1950 with a licensed bar fitted in 1968. In 1976 when the 'Pier Pavilion' was condemned, the lower floor was converted into a 60 seat theatre. After negotiating a lease with the council the Pier Pavilion was reopened in 1977 by under The Westovians control. Later that year a major rebuild was undertaken with a raked auditorium, new foyer and Box Office, reopening in November of 1977.

The house was sold in 1981 to help pay for the reconstruction of back stage dressing rooms and an upper floor general purpose room and wardrobe in the Pier Pavilion. Further upgrading took place in 1996 with a studio, new entrance and Green Room. In 2000 a new bar was added to the foyer, during the building work it was found that previously in 1949 an old air raid shelter had been used as part of the building. The concrete roof was found to be in danger of collapsing and necessitated urgent alterations, the bar finally opened in time for Christmas 2000.

Latterly a new ventilation system, Lighting packs and Consoles for lights and sound have been installed and new curtains, legs and flats have been bought.2010 saw further updating of the Lighting system and Sound systems including a repair of the Loop system while further estimates for replacing are sought.

The Westovians now have a theatre to be proud of!