In Leigh theatre had been flourishing for years, it's heart the Golden Lion Inn in Windymill Lane. Macbeth had been staged there in February 1789 many more productions followed in those years of drudgery and discovery. Then in 1840, the curtain first went up on St Joseph's Players, or did it? The answer now lies forever lost in the cloudy mists of time,. According to NODA the national governing body of dramatic societies, St Joseph's is the oldest in Great Britain formed in 1840 just three years after the world's longest-established company, SIMLA ADC at the Gaiety Theatre in India. No-one at the Leigh society can confirm or deny that 1990 was their 150th year. The anniversary tit bit first came to light when, in 1987 there was some initial research into St Joseph's ADS history. Long hours sifting through dusty parish magazines, many dating back to when Jesuits ruled the Leigh church, revealed a plethora of valuable information. but there was nothing to take the society back beyond the mid-1850's. The hidden truth behind those final 15 years has become a crusade for determined thespians eager to uncover their roots. Intense research has fixed the earliest confirmed performance as a Christmas play Fabiola, which ran for three night in the old chapel in 1856. The society was, more likely, born out of church and school offerings around 1840. One thing is for certain, the St Joseph's Players of today are determined to carry on the tradition of providing top quality plays and pantomimes for many years to come.
Information obtained from a special feature in the Journal Showcase by David Hodgkinson