Click on the main entrance to take a tour of the theatre
The Oasthouse Theatre is situated close to the centre of Rainham and is one of several theatres that can be found in the area controlled by the Medway Unitary Authority in North Kent.
The Theatre is one of a complex of oasthouses in Stratford Lane that was purchased by the Rainham Amateur Theatrical Society (as it was then known) in the early 1960s. The oasthouse had been lying dormant for several years and was being used as a storage area. As a result of the neglect, many long hours were spent converting the building and, on 8th November 1963, The Oasthouse Theatre was officially opened by Irene Weller. The first production was "Billy Liar".
The other oasthouses continued in their work for about another 20 years and the wonderful, soporific smell of hops drying in the adjacent building used to permeate the auditorium during productions of late Summer and Autumn. The remaining oasthouses were eventually converted into private residences in the late 1980s.
An added difficulty in maintaining the Oasthouse is that it is a Grade 2 listed building. In essence, this means that we can modify the interior but the exterior must retain the style of its original features. This can be particularly expensive when, for example, the roof needs repairing.
Another interesting feature of the Oasthouse is our resident ghost. The ghost dates back to 1897 when a gentleman named Mortimer Squires discovered the liaison his young and beautiful wife was having with a thresher who worked at the Oasthouse. As the young lovers eloped, Squires followed them on horseback and caught up with them at Upchurch where he killed them both. Frightened by this deed, he returned and hid in the Oasthouse where his body was later discovered, dangling on the end of a rope in one of the drying rooms. Despite knowing his real name, the ghost is affectionately known as 'Fred'. Although nobody has actually seen the ghost, several members have reported strange noises and other spooky happenings, especially when working in the building alone. One former member, who could be described as a hardened sceptic, was working alone when he heard the piano playing. He would never enter the building by himself again.