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Archives of the ADC Theatre, 1956 - 2019

Reference Code: GBR/0265/UA/ADCT

Scope and Contents

The ADC Theatre Archive contains records from August 1973 onwards. These include some records of theatre administration, production management, and marketing literature but the collection is predominantly comprised of material relating to productions and performances, for example, applications to direct, flyers, posters, programmes, photographs and reviews.
Records of productions and performances by CUADC prior to August 1973 can be found as part of the Amateur Dramatic Club Archive - reference: GBR/0265/UA CUADC. The archive of the Cambridge Footlights Dramatic Club is also available - reference: GBR/0265/UA FOOT.
Camdram - the portal website for student theatre in Cambridge - maintains a database of shows dating back to 2004 and includes listings of cast and production team: Camdram


  • Creation: 1956 - 2019


Conditions Governing Access

From the Management Group:

The University Archives are generally freely available to the holder of a reader's ticket for the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR. Restrictions on access are imposed on certain categories of sensitive record: financial, governmental and personal, by order of the originating body or under data protection legislation. Access information, including opening hours and how to obtain a reader's ticket, appears as part of the Library's web site (

Conditions Governing Use

A significant proportion of the photographs in the ADC Theatre archives are still in copyright. The copyright owner's permission must be obtained before a copy can be made by the Library's Digital Content Unit of any visual material, except for evaluation copies for commercial reproduction or publication. Requests to publish photographic reproductions of any part of the ADC Theatre archives supplied directly by the Library's Digital Content Unit must be submitted via an online reproduction request form. Requests to publish text should be addressed to the Keeper of the University Archives, Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR. Information on imaging and licensing of the Library’s content is available here:

Permission to publish photographic reproductions and text must also be obtained from the copyright owner and/or the theatre company or group.

Biographical / Historical

The ADC Theatre is Britain's oldest University playhouse. Plays have been presented on the site since 1855 when the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club (CUADC) was founded and the Club met and performed in the back room of the Hoop Inn on Jesus Lane. The coaching inn stood almost exactly where the ADC Theatre stands today. In the 1860s the CUADC leased additional rooms from the inn owner, William Ekin, a brewer and wine merchant, and in 1882, the CUADC bought the freehold to the property using a mortgage of £3,500. The building was subsequently developed into the ADC Theatre over an extended period of time. In 1933 a fire destroyed much of the building but the theatre was quickly rebuilt to a design by Harold Tomlinson and W.P. Dyson and reopened in 1935. The theatre was run as a private members’ club by the CUADC but from 1960 onwards the Club experienced growing financial difficulties and by 1972 matters had reached a crisis: the Club could not raise the funds necessary to repair the fabric of the building and replace equipment. Following a University Enquiry into the financial state of the ADC Theatre, it was agreed for the theatre to be leased to the University of Cambridge for 75 years from 1 August 1973. The University employs full-time staff to run the theatre, has responsibility for its maintenance and for a defined range of recurrent expenditure including maintenance, rates, insurances, and cleaning. Thus, although the theatre is owned by the CUADC it is currently run as the smallest department of the University. It continues to be a producing theatre with the CUADC as one of its resident companies, the others being Cambridge Footlights and Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society. A history of the theatre is available online as part of its website


25 linear metre(s) : paper, photographs, cd, audio & video tape

Language of Materials



Material from five new accessions from the theatre (made 2014-16) was added to the catalogue in Dec. 2016-Mar. 2017. Some sections were restructured at this time and material from the new accessions was discarded in line with the retention schedule.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The majority of the theatre archives were transferred to the University Archives in 2013 as part of a project to produce a full catalogue and institute a records management programme. They had previously been held by the Manuscripts Section of the department.


Transfers of administrative and productions records are made intermittently by the ADC Theatre.

Related Materials

For the website of John Hall, a prominent set and costume designer for the ADC Theatre in 1950s and 1960s, see: The 'Theatre Designs' section of the website features set designs, costume designs as well as some production photographs and programmes.


This online catalogue was completed in October 2015 and updated in March 2017, September 2018, October 2019, and November 2021.


ADC Theatre

Finding aid date

2013-12-09 14:14:38+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom