Trust pledges £570,000 to help save Watermill Theatre

Watermill TheatreGreenham Trust kick started The Watermill Theatre's 2005 appeal for £3 million with a pledge of £570,000 to help save the Newbury theatre.

The Grade II listed theatre, its grounds and buildings were due to come up for sale in 2006. Its then owners the late Jill Fraser and James Sargant planned to move on in 2008, after 25 years at The Watermill. The Watermill Theatre Trust had an option to buy the premises and secure the future of The Watermill. At the same time the organisation was bursting at the seams and money was needed to develop and refurbish the buildings. The Watermill Theatre Trust launched an appeal on 10th June 2005 to raise the £3,000,000.

Our grant was used to extend and refurbish the existing office accommodation, to provide additional workshop and rehearsal space, and increase the electricity and mains water supply. In addition, the Trust funded a new sewage treatment plant to replace the existing, decaying system, which will be a major environmental benefit.

Sir Peter Michael, the Trust's chairman, said: “As soon as the Greenham Trust heard that The Watermill had to raise £3 million we knew we wanted to help with a substantial grant. Having supported the theatre with previous grants we understood the quality and importance of its work and involvement with the community. The Watermill is more than just a place of entertainment in Newbury. It also makes a vital contribution to the wider community by touring small-scale productions to rural communities and schools in Berkshire and around England.

Watermill Theatre“The Theatre's work in encouraging youth theatre, its education projects and its special initiatives, such as work with the Reading Homeless Project and Newbury Day Centre, make it a significant and precious resource for the area that is worthy of our support.”

Ralph Barnard, Chairman of The Watermill Appeal Board added: “This award from Greenham Trust is a fantastic start to our Appeal to raise the £3 million needed to ensure the future of The Watermill as a theatre that brings an extra dimension to the lives of many people in Berkshire and beyond. We anticipate that this award, made so soon after the announcement, will enhance our ability to reach our target."

The Watermill continues to be a thriving nationally and internationally renowned theatre at the cutting edge of drama and performance. It has also developed some of the most important outreach work in the community. Sadly its founder Jill Fraser lost her battle with cancer in 2006. Her husband James Sargant retired in 2008 and handed the reins to artistic and executive director Hedda Beeby.

For more information on the Watermill’s fantastic programme of entertainment and work please visit