THIS is the centenary year of Bingley Amateur Operatic Society, and members are busy collecting treasured memories and memorabilia from shows of yesteryear.

The Society’s 100th birthday celebration will be held on Saturday in the Studio at Bingley Little Theatre. Adhering to Covid safety guidelines, there will be a limit on the numbers attending.

The event will include displays of photographs and memorabilia and a cabaret with singalong highlights. Old friends and performers will be reunited in a nostalgic and memorable evening!

During the economic recovery from the Great War the Society was one of many groups formed from church choirs.

During those early years, rehearsals were held wherever suitable premises could be found. The first production was Dogs of Devon in 1921, performed in the Methodist Chapel in Hill Street.

By 1925, the Society was known as Bingley Congregational Amateur Operatic Society, and known familiarly as ‘Bingley Congs’.

The production in that year was Maid of the Mountains.

In 1927 Bingley Swimming Pool was opened. Above the water a magnificent Canadian maple wood floor could be installed, enabling it to be used for public functions. Known as ‘Princes Hall’, it became the new venue for the Society’s shows.

Rehearsal space remained scarce but somewhere could always be found; Church House on Old Main Street served admirably for some years, as did the large room space below the Old Library on Main Street, (thanks to Bingley Council). This later became Porkies night club.

The annual productions continued until 1939 when everything was put on hold until the “end of hostilities”. There is a gap of six years in the management committee minutes marking the passing of those years of deprivation during the Second World War.

It is interesting to note that the 1939 production was Goodnight Vienna, a portent of our country’s separation from fortress Europe. The next production, in 1946, was Tulip Time with its promise of dreams fulfilled and happier times ahead.

Following the bleak years of World War II, and before the proliferation of television and family cars, when the main form of transportation to entertainment venues was trams and trolley buses, amateur musical societies enjoyed growing success in their home towns.

They provided a hobby and a gathering point for budding artists and performers. Whilst still producing one show annually, the Bingley Society kept pace with the supply of new shows being released for amateur performance.

Our older citizens might remember being involved in some of the major successes in these decades:

* The Student Prince in 1949;

* The Girlfriend in 1955;

* Oklahoma in 1957;

* South Pacific in 1966;

* The Music Man in 1987;

* Fiddler on the Roof in 1992.

With the opening of the Bingley Arts Centre in 1974, the Society finally had a professional theatre for its performances.

After the building came under the control of Bingley Little Theatre in 2012, the Society members played their part in the continuing development and improvements of the theatre which today include a revolving stage and an enviable lighting system.

In 1986 after many fund-raising activities, the Society bought its current rehearsal premises in Ferncliffe Road. Here too, in 2021, thanks to more magnificent fundraising, work has begun to replace the aged Victorian roof and make major improvements to the interior space.

Towards the end of the last century the Society made the decision to expand its audience appeal by including a family pantomime in its calendar.

Since 1997 these have proven to be truly successful in increasing the Society’s popularity, serving also to introduce local children to the thrill and joy of live performances. Some of these youngsters are of course, the performers, set builders and stalwarts of tomorrow.

Every theatre performance produces tales and legends of humour and hiccups.

One such was during rehearsals for Oklahoma in 2006; the actor playing Curly developed a serious throat condition, but the show was saved when Society members clubbed together to fund urgent surgery for him at the Yorkshire Clinic.

To everyone’s delight, recent ambitious productions such as Cats, Flashdance, Acorn Antiques and The Full Monty have brought ever-higher levels of performance.

The Society has a long affiliation with the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA).

In keeping with the ideals of many societies, Bingley Amateurs has played its role in the community by making annual donations to local charities.

It supports the Bingley Show and provides carol singers for local retirement homes at Christmas time. It enjoys mutually supportive links with other musical societies where ideas, costumes and sets can be shared.

The Society is proud to look back over its one hundred years, not only for its record in Bingley, but for what it offers its members: a rewarding hobby bringing to everyone involved friendship, personal development and achievement through teamwork.

Next year we plan to stage a production of The Little Mermaid, in March 2022. Auditions are completed and work has begun on our sets. At present we are still re-vamping the interior of the society's premises. The major roof works are in the hands of our chosen contractor. Rehearsals will commence in the new year.

* There must be many families of past members who have treasured memories, stories and items from our shows of yesteryear.

If you are one of these then why not come along to our event on Saturday, November 20 at Bingley Little Theatre with your mementoes?

Attendance is free but those attending will need to book in advance by emailing Margaret at

or Jeff at