Wartime history brought to stage

Pateley Bridge Dramatic Society will be recreating a fascinating part of Harrogate’s history this June as the Pateley Players take to the stage to perform The Stray.

By Janet Harrison
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 3:58 pm

The play was written by Keith Burton, one of Nidderdale’s most original playwrights, with the help of Harrogate historian Malcolm Neesam.

“The Stray is a drama based on what might have happened in Harrogate during the week starting Sunday September 8, 1940 to cause the bombing of the Majestic Hotel,” said a spokesman for Pateley Players.

“It was the only time during the war that Harrogate was attacked.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

“The reason has always been a secret, reports saying that it was part of a bigger raid on northern industrial targets. But what really happened?”

The play tells the story of Harrogate’s role in the Coats Mission, which was a secret plan to evacuate the Royal Family from London.

“Newby Hall, near Ripon, was identified as a possible home for the Royal Family and a wing of Grove House on Skipton Road in Harrogate, opposite an RAF bunker, was designated as a possible home for Prime Minister Winston Churchill,” added the spokesman.

“Was the leaking of these details responsible for Harrogate becoming a genuine target for the German High Command, or was it merely a ‘stray’ bomb?”

Keith Burton has created a cast of well-drawn characters that bring to life a possible set of circumstances that ultimately led to the unexpected destruction brought by a German Junker 88.

“It is a story of love and betrayal, intrigue and ultimately heroism,” added the spokesman.

“A tale which puts North Yorkshire firmly on the map of secret activity and espionage during WW2.

“Sometimes you need to reveal a smaller secret to hide a bigger one”, as one character so beautifully puts it.”

The Stray will be performed in the Memorial Hall, Pateley Bridge from Tuesday June 14 to Saturday 18 June starting at 7.30pm,

Tickets for performances of The Stray are on sale now and bookings will be from the PateleyPlayers’ website at: www.pateleyplayhouse.co.uk

All tickets cost £9.