October 30, 1969: Work on the National Theatre’s new home on the South Bank began half a century ago this week. We reported that work was due to begin the following Monday, November 3, 1969.
“Spadefuls of concrete will be poured into a hole at 11am on Monday next to mark the start of building work on the National Theatre. Using the spades will be Lord Cottesloe, chairman of the South Bank Theatre Board, Jennie Lee, Minister for the Arts, Desmond Plummer, leader of the Greater London Council, and Lord Chandos, chairman of the National Theatre Board.”
Our then editor Eric Johns added in his leader: “It will be a great moment, finally coming after generations of hoping and battling, quarrelling and despairing, disillusionment and encouragement. For 200 years the vision of a National Theatre has remained just a vision; though reality suddenly came closer with the founding of the National Theatre Company at the Old Vic, and its creative and practical building up under the imaginative direction of Laurence Olivier. The Stage itself is proud to have played a part, through many years, in the campaign.”
The building itself would open in February 1976, under a new artistic director, Peter Hall.
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