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24 years on: film of campaign rally to save Rose Theatre Bankside

London SE1 website team

Rare video footage of the extraordinary campaign to save the remains of Bankside's Rose Theatre has been published 24 years later.

The video was shot by Richard Miller, then a resident of Bermondsey, on Sunday 14 May 1989, the day before the developers were due to move in to start building an office block above the recently excavated remains of the Rose Theatre.

Watch part 1 of the video on YouTube

Watch part 2 of the video on YouTube

The Rose was the first of Bankside's Elizabethan playhouses and was the venue for plays by Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson and Kyd.

The theatre's remains were discovered during a 1989 archaeological dig in Park Street, close to the southern end of Southwark Bridge.

Leading political and theatrical figures joined a high-profile 'Save the Rose' campaign to ensure that the archaeological remains were preserved.

The film – shot on VHS and recently digitised by Mr Miller – captures the drama of the campaign, with Simon Hughes MP conducting negotiations with English Heritage and they key players.

Sam Wanamaker, who led the campaign to rebuild Shakespeare's Globe, is also shown in the video addressing a crowd in Park Street with a prescient speech about how Bankside could once again be a cultural centre for Southwark, London and the world.

Eventually the office block was redesigned to accommodate the archaeological site and the Rose Theatre Trust now hosts a year-round programme of stage productions as well as open days every Saturday.

The trust is currently working on plans for an excavation of the remaining portion of the playhouse that has not yet been unearthed and to create a larger, permanent performance space.

Read more about the story behind the film on Richard Miller's blog.

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