HISTORY of THE BULL THEATRE
of an inn on this site go back to the 1400’s. The present building
dates from about 1750 although Tudor timbers were found in a chimney fire
in 1987. The tiling on the front with the two porches and bull’s head
drain spouts are Victorian, when it was known as The Old Bull.
1963 Bought by Barnet UDC for a Civic Defence Centre and perhaps as junction point for proposed ring road to allow for pedestrianisation of the High Street.
1965-1975 Became Barnet Magistrates Court Office until they moved to No.7 Meanwhile the proposal for the ring road was dropped because of opposition from the Hadley Green end.
Nov 1975 Barnet Centre Association takes on a monthly lease from the London Borough of Barnet. BCA was a community association of local societies, a registered charity formed in 1973 at a time of building boom when local halls were being sold off. BCA held an annual summer festival in Ewen Hall which continued for 10 years until 1983.
1976 Craftsmen rent upstairs rooms. Shared Experience presents “Arabian Nights”, their first touring show, in the downstairs gallery where monthly crafts fairs are held.
1977 Gallery and shop are improved through a Job Creation Scheme. Small theatre created in the upstairs front rooms and weekly performances, drama courses and exhibitions begin.
1981 Development scheme approved by LBB, under the Government’s Community Centre scheme with 50% grant from the Government, 25% by LBB and 25% by BCA, mostly financed through 4 – 7 year covenant payments by members.
1982 Stables in courtyard converted into 10 studio workshops for artists / craftsmen.
1984 A Manpower Services Scheme finances a team of administrators and another of building workers. Studio Theatre opens in lower floor of new block behind the original building.
1985 Graham Bennett is appointed as Centre Director with funding for a professional programme. BCA is dissolved and becomes The Old Bull Arts Association Ltd.
1988 Main Theatre upstairs is completed with assistance from the LBB and opens on 28th Feb 1988. Nick Ewbank succeeds Graham Bennett, who moves to Millfield Theatre.
1995 Alison Duthie becomes Centre Director. The programme outgrows the building
1998 Proposals for the development of former Gaumont Cinema site at Tally Ho Corner lead to plans for arts depot and OBAA Ltd. eventually merges with The Arts Depot Trust.
2004 Arts depot opens in the autumn and The Susi Earnshaw Theatre School become tenants of The Bull with space continuing to be available at the evenings and weekends for theatre and community use.
History compiled by Pam Edwards, founder member and organiser up to 1985, together with Dennis O’Brien, who was Chairman and did an enormous amount to create the first small theatre. He then supervised building work, as did. Fred Fuller and Alan Cook (electrics). Gill McNeil (drama), Lesley Richardson, John Blandford and Malcolm Peters (administrators) served as original Trustees and together with Pam continue to serve on the Arts Depot Trust. Local musicians and others gave much support, including a Raising the Roof appeal in 2002.