Exhibition’s design

The small team sorted Betty Dawes’s papers with the intention of adding them to the archive.  Those with the more agile recollection capabilities put names to photographs whether of productions or people.  Ralph was particularly impressive with his naming of the early day members, including Leslie Eacock, Diana Hubbard, Pamela Riches, Sylvia Sartin and Mike Tracy.  Studio photographs of whom Betty had retained since 1950!

The material fell into two categories; one, production related and the other of historic interest. These latter papers included receipts for expenditure in connection with the early days of running the drama company. In placing these in date order the story told was the significant part played by the young company’s benefactor, Elizabeth ‘Molly’ Penney.  Molly underwrote production costs until income was generated from a public performance.

This investment was significant in the Birth of The Wick.

In equal measure the decision taken by the Southwick Community Association to renovate a dilapidated barn in the grounds of Manor Farm on which the Community Centre was being established in 1948 was fundamental to the birth of theatre in Southwick.

The Birth of the Barn was a story followed by the local papers, significantly the Shoreham Herald whose back issues had been micro-filmed and were accessible in Worthing Library’s reference library.

Peter Joyce had visited this collection and taken prints of reports connected to the redevelopment of the barn through 1950 and its ceremonial opening January 5th 1951, thus augmenting archival papers that were predominantly production centric.

Since the archive had been meticulously ordered and the www.wicktheatre.co.uk recorded all the productions, the team took no time in identifying significant events from each of the seven decades and these were outlined in the Lottery application.

1950’s – birth of the company and the launch of The Barn Theatre

  • Penney family influence, membership records, local news reports.


1960’s – development of youth membership as a way of long term sustainability

  • Youth Group activities, One-Act Drama Festivals.


1970’s – engagement with local Full-length Drama Festivals, first Shakespeare production

  • Supporting local Arts Council festival


1980’s – expansion into productions that tapped local youth talent

  • Examining importance of a thriving youth section


1990’s – redevelopment of The Barn

  • Company’s involvement with project


2000’s – staging a world premier

  • How the event was presented and promoted


2010’s – reaching 250 productions

  • Landmark in Company’s journey”

Once the HLF had approved our application and the scope of the exhibition established, the team were assigned to particular areas:

  1. Peter Joyce working with his son Richard: exhibition design, publicity.
  2. Amanda Evans her daughter Olivia, son Jonathan and brother Jonathon: videos and audio files.
  • Susan Whittaker and Margaret Davy: to gather properties from productions that were to be put on display.
  1. Amanda to liaise with Southwick [Sussex] Society and use of the exhibition space in Manor Cottage – Southwick’s Heritage Centre.