Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams and others to the Editor of The Times

Letter No.: 
[Monday 16 September, 1957]

Mermaid Theatre Trust,
115, Shaftesbury Avenue,

The wide publicity recently given to the economic problems of the living theatre has made it clear that, unless vigorous action is taken, the future of the drama itself is in jeopardy.
Against this background the Mermaid Theatre Trust has taken the bold step of starting to build a new theatre on a fine river site at Puddle Dock, E.C.4. about 100 yards east of Blackfriarss Station.
The new theatre, London's first for 25 years, will be a comfortable modern building, seating about 550, with a restaurant overlooking the river.  As the City's own playhouse, it will be run mainly for the benefit of City workers, at times convenient for their atttendance and at prices well within the means of the lower income groups.  But theatre-lovers everywhere will be welcomed and its aim will be to produce a wide range of dramatic and musical entertainment, ancient and modern, foreign and home grown.
The City Corporation has not only provided the site at a token rent but has also made a handsome contribution from the City's Cash, and financial encouragement amounting in all to over £25,000 has been received from banks, oil, shippping and insurance companies, livery companies, charitable trusts, business houses and generous individuals both within the City and without, representing an impressive diversity of interest and outlook.
But, as stated in your Personal Column, a further £25,000 is still required before the building can be completed.  May we, the signatories of this letter, appeal to your readers to support this bold and imaginative venture.  By so doing they can help not only to replant the drama in its ancient cradle but also warm the hearts and raise the spirits of all who believe the living theatre to be a precious and vital part of our national life.
We are, Sir, yours obendiently,
Noël V. Bowater, Elizabeth M. Braddock, Chandos, Kenneth Clark, Richard Dimbleby, T.S. Eliot, Edith Evans, Douglas Fairbanks, Christopher Fry, John Gielgud, W.R. Matthews, Laurence Olivier, Harry Secombe, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Bernard Waley-Cohen, Harold Webbe.


General notes: 

Printed in The Times newspaper, Monday 16 September, 1957, headed "Mermaid Theatre".

The Times (no.53947), Monday, September 16, 1957, p.9.