AN amateur dramatics group that has put on a performance every year for the last 42 years has been forced to cancel its annual winter production following the loss of the main arts facility in Darlington.

The Bondgate Players formed in 1970 and has since performed to audiences at least twice a year, using the theatre at the Darlington Arts Centre, in Vane Terrace, to stage its shows.

But, following Darlington Borough Council’s decision to close the arts centre due to budget cuts, the Bondgate Players have been left homeless and have had to cancel their December production for the first time in the organisation’s history after failing to find an alternative stage.

The group is not disbanding, but chairman David Roberts has admitted that the difficulty in finding somewhere to perform, and rehearse, has led to a dwindling membership.

He has called on the town’s young performers, set designers and technicians to come together and help the Bondgate Players survive for the sake of its arts heritage.

Mr Roberts, who has been a member of the group for 15 years, said: “With the closing of the arts centre we’ve got nowhere to go. We’ve tried all sorts, school halls for example, but you have to fit in with their existing schedules.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel and we are hoping to have somewhere to go by the spring, but in the meantime we are depleted because people go off and join other groups. We need more members to come forward, especially those in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

“There is a limit to the number of plays set in an old people’s home.”

Over the years the Bondgate Players have had success with a number of classic plays, including Have You Been Served, Hello, Is Any Body There? and ‘Allo ‘Allo.

The Players plan to hold an open day in the New Year when potential new members can find out more about the group and how it operates.

Anyone interested is asked to contact Alison Hunter on 01325-469869.