Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Mr Donald James


  The proposals are in sketch/diagram form in the local press which limit the amount of evidence with the exception of the proposed demolition of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST).


  The building is a "Listed 2* grade" because of its historic, social and architectural importance. The grounds for its demolition, according to the RSC is that the building cannot be used properly for plays, particularly Shakespearian productions. (I believe that it is possible and at reasonable expense to deal with matters to ensure that it is improved and capable for as the RST as originally intended).

  For these reasons I oppose rigorously its demolition.

  To criticise the work of the previous architects is not an acceptable reason to demolish, neither is the reason that the RST now want an Elizabethan theatre like the "Globe". Shakespeare's plays have been performed successfully in the RST for nearly 70 years.

  The "listing" of buildings ensures that our heritage is maintained. Stratford-upon-Avon exemplifies this. For the RST to be allowed to be demolished would be regarded by those who care for our heritage as vandalism and likely to cause a serious precedent.


  Its demolition would be unfortunate because it is so well liked generally, but to do this before the decision is made on the RST could be regretted by RSC for obvious reasons. When drawings are ready it will be possible to give evidence.


  It is impossible to comment because of lack of definition. If it were to include development on the waterfront in conjunction with the District Council I would oppose because of environmental damage to one of the most beautiful views in England.


  Any footbridge of whatever design would be a disturbing intrusion, environmentally injurious and which I would oppose. The Abercrombies dealt with this in their report to Stratford Borough Council in 1922 and were totally opposed to it; their advice then is more relevant 80 years on.


  The RSC's policy appears to encourage and develop their cultural interests and commercial opportunities, such as the village and waterside development. It is the latter two items where objections lay, apart from demolition of RST (the footbridge, although I object to it, is likely to be a Council matter). My objections, made in the interests of the town, are not unreasonable and reduce the capital investment, at the same time preserving the heritage and maintaining the environment now existing. At the same time due regard will be had for the efforts made in this country, America and Canada following an appeal from the Government in 1926 which resulted in the building of The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, now RST.

10 January 2002

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