Towards the end of the 19th century temperance was a firmly held principle in the Congregational Church. Many members and several Ministers espoused pacifism; in both World Wars a significant number registered as conscientious objectors. In the second World War the church operated a forces’ canteen and Prisoners of War were given friendship and fellowship. A centre for the unemployed was provided during the 1930’s depression. Since 1945, no fewer than four members of Headgate Chapel have been Mayor of Colchester –Walter Buckingham, Cyril Child, Bob Russell and Westley Sandford.
Having the building was one thing – turning it from a Health Club to a theatre was another. Members of the Trust busied themselves with applying for grants – and Eddie McKay, then the Chair of the Trust took the paperwork associated with the Lottery application to London in a suitcase! The original adaptations were funded by
- A National Lottery grant of £99,663.
- The Hervey Benham Trust, a local benefactor, generously giving us £70,000
- Fundraising, sponsorship and existing reserves raising a further £70,000