No ‘Memorial’ in Webster Theatre

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LOCAL historian Morris Scott, John Street, claims that an injustice has occurred as the word ‘memorial’ appears to have been dropped from the name of the Webster Memorial Theatre.

And he believes that it should be restored to keep faith with the agreement reached when the original Webster Memorial Hall was gifted to the people of Arbroath shortly after the First World War.

In a letter to today’s Herald (page 14), Mr Scott points out that the building was purchased by Sir Francis Webster and his brothers, William and James, as a memorial to Sir Francis’s son, Lieutenant Joseph F. Webster, who was killed in action on October 30, 1914, at Zaandvoorde Ridge.

He continues: “The Webster Memorial Hall was given to the citizens of Arbroath and was accepted by the council on their behalf. There were conditions that the hall should be known for all time as the Webster Memorial Hall and will be maintained and kept in good order by the council ‘in all time coming’.”

Mr Scott is angered as he believes that someone, or possibly a committee, has decided to ignore the conditions of the gift, the word ‘memorial’ has been removed and the hall has been called a theatre.

The chairman of the Royal Burgh of Arbroath Community Council, Mrs Pat Millar, said she had always known the facility as the Webster Memorial Hall then the Webster Memorial Theatre.

She continued: “It is regrettable that the word ‘memorial’ seems to have been missed from the name. However, I think that there is a reference inside to the ‘Webster Memorial Theatre’.

“If people were to refer to it as the Webster Memorial Theatre then perhaps through usage the proper name might become accepted.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people nowadays are not aware of the sad story behind the original Webster Memorial Hall being gifted to the people of Arbroath.

She concluded: “Some might point out that the name Webster is still prominent and it alludes to the initial gift.”

A spokesperson for Angus Council commented: “As agreed by Angus Council, the formal name of the building is the Webster Memorial Theatre and this is used in all normal situations.

“The granite platform and etched glass used the shorter form ‘Webster Theatre’ and the word ‘memorial’ is sometimes dropped in specific marketing or advertising situations where space may be at a premium.”