READING that the charity, Play to the Crowd, which runs the Theatre Royal, is now seeking £225,000 “To survive the coronavirus crisis”, reminds me how in the very early days of the Theatre Royal, I wrote letter after letter saying that the theatre could never survive without subsidy from the ratepayers.

Some time ago, I looked up my original correspondence, written some four decades ago, when Jenny Bland was chairman.

All my financial predictions proved completely accurate. I contended that the theatre’s size, limiting the number of seats, meant that really good performers, who would sell out the seats, could not be attracted.

I also criticised the lack of convenient parking.

I contended that those who normally attend theatres, tend to be the better off and should not enjoy subsidised entertainment and that Winchester residents were well placed to visit Southampton and London theatres.

I suggested that Winchester would be better served by a new, very much larger and multi-use facility.

If this was large enough to take the numbers that attend popular music events, plus the numerous orchestral choral events, held in Winchester, it could have been built on the site of the old Chesil Street Station and be cheaply built with a steel frame, two sides of which would have been hidden by the cutting.

An attractive façade could easily have been built and there was then, plenty if nearby parking space available.

Jenny Bland and her committee members, blinded by their desire to “save” the old flea pit cinema, rubbished my idea and assured us that their project would be self-funding.

It would be interesting now to ascertain by how much Winchester city and Hampshire county councils have subsidised the Theatre Royal over the past nearly 40 years.

I doubt that there is anyone brave enough to add up the sums, but my guess is that many, many millions of pounds have disappeared into what has proved a bottomless pit.

This money, which comes from every one of us, could have done so much more, elsewhere.

Keith Webb,