St Joseph's Hall
Chapel Street, Leigh, Lancashire WN7 2PR
Bolton Amateur Theatre Societies (BATS)
Bolton Amateur Theatre Societies (BATS) was formed in 1988.
It was formed to assist local amateur societies to promote their performances and create public awareness of the great variety of entertainment within the area.
The original idea was that of Jean Morgan, please see below for Jean’s own words. The plan was to get all the amateur operatic societies together for an annual dinner dance. It was a chance to meet friends we do not see very often and an opportunity to catch up with what other societies were doing.
Bolton is unique in that we have more amateur theatre societies, including orchestras, choirs, etc than any other town in the North West.
Following on from the first dinner, a bi-monthly meeting was arranged. The purpose of this meeting was to share information regarding forthcoming productions. This was in a bid to prevent duplicate productions and opened the gates for us to share props, costumes, scenery, and any other aspect of theatre that allowed us to work together.
32 years later, we are still here, going strong and working collaboratively to ensure we present high standard amateur theatre in and around the Bolton area.
We hold our annual dinner and awards evening every September where we all come together and celebrate the past season. Paul Cohen – Chairman
Jean Morgan’s own words….
In 1986 I had an idea that all the operatic societies in Bolton could get together under one roof for a dinner and dance. I wrote to all the secretaries of the societies and put the suggestion to them and asked for them to put it to their membership and get back to me. Within 4 weeks all the groups had replied and all were in agreement.
I began to put together a programme, chose Rivington Barn as the venue, chose a menu with the owner of the Barn , advised the members and that was the very first amateur operatic societies’ get-together. During the evening I put a notice on each table which put a suggestion to them that we join together under one auspice, each society working independently, but able to access other groups facilities ie certain props could be lent out, help with front of house work when there was a shortage, even putting out feelers for the filling of a role which hadn’t been cast.
We then began monthly meetings with the temporary title of Bolton Amalgamated Operatic Societies. We had two other members other than myself. David Morlidge who took on the position of Chairman, Barbara Holt as Treasurer, and myself as Secretary.
This was the format for the first year and when I had time to organise the second dinner, we were approached by a couple of dramatic societies who joined us, then a few more, so we changed the name.
And that is when Bolton Amateur Theatre Societies (BATS) was born.
It is with great pride that I now witness the growth of this group and the success it has achieved by spreading the membership. Tragically, we lost Barbara Holt our original treasurer to a fatal car accident, it was a great shock to us all and she has been sorely missed. We are on our third chairman, David retired and Michael Rodgers took over, he also retired and Paul Cohen took over. I retired and left the secretarial department to Jason Crompton.
As the years have gone on BATS has grown and is a well known and respected organisation in the North West. I am very proud of “my baby” from a whimsical idea in the l980’s and long may it continue.
Below is a snippet of the BATS’ members’ diary. Sadly due to the prevailing Covid situation there are no current performances but when there are, you can easily search the diary by date, type of production and the performing society.
St Joseph's Hall