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National Theatre Act 1949

Proposals for a national theatre were first made in 1848. In 1908 supporters of the campaign for a national theatre began working with a group who were planning a memorial to Shakespeare. On 23 April 1913 a private member's bill was brought before the House of Commons in favour of the establishment of a national theatre. However, the National Theatre Bill was not introduced to Parliament until 1949. The Bill passed without a division and became the National Theatre Act 1949.

The National Theatre Act 1949 authorised the Treasury to contribute up to £1 million to the building and equipment of a national theatre. Arrangements had been made between the Shakespeare Memorial Trust and London County Council for a site to be reserved in Lambeth for the erection of a national theatre. Eventually the National Theatre opened in 1963 at the Old Vic before moving to the South Bank in 1976.


National Theatre Act 1949


9 March 1949

Catalogue number

Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PU/1/1949/12,13,14G6c16