Wyvern Theatre

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Coordinates: 51°33′29″N 1°46′59″W / 51.558°N 1.783°W / 51.558; -1.783

Wyvern Theatre
Address Swindon
Capacity 635
Opened 7 September 1971 (1971-09-07)
Reopened 25 September 2007

The Wyvern Theatre in Swindon, Wiltshire, is named after the mythical wyvern which was once the emblem of the kings of Wessex. It was opened on 7 September 1971 by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

It is managed on behalf of Swindon Borough Council by Wyvern Theatre Ltd, a subsidiary of HQ Theatres Ltd. The Managing Director is Derek Aldridge, having taken over from the previous incumbent, Andrew Hill, on 1 June 2009.[1] The auditorium has 635 seats, all designed to be within 70 feet from the stage.[2]


The theatre was built in 1968-71 by Casson, Conder and Partner as part of Swindon Civic Centre.[3] The first performance was by the Ukrainian Dance Company.[4]

On 3 September 2006, it closed temporarily after the discovery of traces of asbestos in the venue's offices and roof void during a routine inspection. It remained closed until September 2007 and the closure was used to refurbish the venue, bringing new decor, bars, cafés, disabled entrances and new seating costing £1.3 million. The first performance afterwards was on 25 September 2007.[5]

Management companies[edit]

  • 1971–1994 – Wyvern Arts Trust Ltd
  • 1994–2001 – Apollo Leisure
  • 2001–02 – SFX Venues
  • 2002–05 – Clear Channel Entertainment
  • 2005–07 – Hetherington Seelig Theatres Ltd
  • From 2007: HQ Theatres, a joint venture between H.S.T Ltd and Qdos Entertainment


Curtain Fells On A Charmer[edit]

From the Swindon Advertiser, first published Monday 7 March 2005.

The man who greeted the stars for 34 years has marked his retirement with style. Derek McCarthy began working at the Wyvern Theatre only a fortnight after it opened in 1971. As stage doorman he was responsible for meeting and greeting the actors and actresses and showing them to the dressing rooms.

Among the stars he met during his time at the theatre were Ken Dodd, Danny La Rue and Maggie and John Larsen. Derek, 79, of Queensfield in Kingsdown, origin-ally worked as a railway clerk in Swindon. He said: "I was made redundant and then they found me a job as a clerk at Paddington Station. "I would come back to Swindon in the evening and go straight to the Wyvern, change my clothes and carry on working. "I met Ken Dodd through working there. I got on with him very well. He was good for a laugh." At first Derek worked backstage but later became stage doorman. He said: "I had to speak to them all backstage. As stage doorman I booked them in, greeted them and gave them a dressing room."

Nick Shaw, the theatre's general manager, is sad to see him go. He said: "Derek is one of those larger than life characters you can only find in a theatre. "He was kind and helpful and well loved by people who came to visit the theatre, especially amateurs. "He's one of those people who actually wanted to be at work. He was genuinely part of the fabric of the building and certainly made my life a lot easier." Mr Shaw said that talking to Derek was so interesting it would often distract him from his own work. He said: "It was easy to sit and talk to Derek for hours because I would learn so much about Swindon, its people and this building. He genuinely is a font of information. He tells stories with a unique turn of phrase."

Summer Youth Project[edit]

Willy Wyvern[edit]

The Wyvern Theatre has its own mascot in the form of a 6-foot-high green dragon-like creature known as Willy the Wyvern.[citation needed]

Willy the Wyvern became the theatre's mascot in its founding years but faded into obscurity for over two decades. In 2001, Willy returned to the theatre in time to celebrate its 30th anniversary. He also featured in the 2013 Summer Youth Project as a mascot character in the performance.[citation needed]


External links[edit]