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Harold Hill - warts and all

PUBLISHED: 18:21 11 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:11 11 August 2010

HAROLD Hill has featured in the history of Havering for the past 60 years, but now that unique estate is coming under the microscopic pen of a local playwright, and there are some surprises. Built as an overspill area for Londoners the Hill started to

HAROLD Hill has featured in the history of Havering for the past 60 years, but now that unique estate is coming under the microscopic pen of a local playwright, and there are some surprises.

Built as an overspill area for Londoners' the 'Hill' started to spread into life after the Second World War, originally designed as a 'Garden City' but finishing up housing the homeless and bombed out people, Kath Sayer's intricate play shows how it become a close knit community within the borough of Havering.

Now in production at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, more than 70 talented local players are being moulded into a cohesive force to tell the story of 'Harry from the Hill', which will be at the Billet Lane theatre, for five performances from Wednesday July 30 to Saturday August 2nd.

Upminster resident Kath, who has been writing 'all my life', took on the commission from the theatre's Artistic Director, Bob Carlton, to write a play for the coming anniversary celebrating the start of the estate.

"I found most of my inspiration for the play from a website by Mark Walpole,"she said. "It's very comprehensive and tells the story of the 'Hill' bringing out every aspect of the good and bad side of living there."

Built around the then Labour Government's Garden City concept, Harold Hill was one that never achieved the early dream.

"It was a vision that never succeeded," said Kath. "There were plans for a university and such, and there were many reasons why it did not succeed, but according to Mark's site, snobbishness and treating the residents as outcasts were probably primary factors that stopped the dream."

Kath's story is wrapped round 'one that got away', Harry, born out of wedlock and adopted by a rich family from west London, and his search for his biological parents.

"Writing a play was the easy bit, but getting it to reflect the life and history of the area took many hours of pondering and re-writes," said Kath.

Rich in characters from Harold Hill, the play is a family feel good experience combined with a history lesson of a unique part of the area.

Well known actress Sue Purkiss is playing the major role of Harry's biological mother, Lisa.

She said: "It's a good role to get, and something I am so looking forward to doing. Lisa is quite a woman and one that has not been dealt too many good cards in her life, but I think most people will know her or someone like her."

Tickets for the six performances are £10 with concessions and available now from the box office on 01708 443333.


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