FEW market towns in the West Country can boast their own theatre, let alone with a canalside view, so Devizes is twice blessed with its very own Wharf Theatre, which is just undergoing a major facelift.

Devizes Amateur Dramatic Society, the forerunner of the Wharf Theatre, was formed in 1947 and presented plays in the community centre, the Garrison Theatre at the barracks, the Palace Cinema and any other venue that was available.

In 1972 Devizes Borough Council offered the company the lease of an old building in Couch Lane and it became the only dedicated theatre in eastern Wiltshire.

In February 1973 the group started work on converting the building and what was now the Wharf Theatre Company put on its first production in its new home in October that year.

Then, when Kennet District Council decided to redevelop the Wharf area, it offered a dilapidated warehouse next to the canal to the company. The amateur actors raised and invested £12,000 in converting it to a theatre and the present Wharf Theatre opened in May 1980. In 1989 it was improved by the addition of a workshop, dressing rooms and costume storage space, while the audience was provided with a new bar and foyer area.

The first play at the new theatre was J B Priestley’s When We Are Married and the company has staged at least seven of its own productions every year since, also welcoming visiting companies, such as the students from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Now the theatre is undergoing a revamp and trustees of the theatre are pushing ahead with a major facelift that will be finished in time for a gala night relaunch on November 3.

In addition to the work, that includes redecoration of the bar and foyer, upgrading of toilets and new electrics there is also a complete rebranding to go with the new look.

The theatre has also introduced a new online booking system, TicketSource. Customers who prefer to book their tickets in person can do so by ringing 03336 663 366.

Productions this autumn include one by John Challis, famous for his role as Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, who is bringing his one-man show to the Wharf on October 21.

As well as hearing stories from the famous TV series and watching clips from the show, audience members will be able to meet and chat to Mr Challis who will sign copies of his autobiography.

The gala night on November 3 will be the opening night of its second in-house production of the year, Quartet by Ronald Harwood.

The Wharf’s Christmas offering this year is something rather different. Paul Butler, who presented a stunning Hot Mikado a few years ago, is returning to Gilbert and Sullivan with a festive production of Yeomen of the Guard.

For more information on the Wharf Theatre, go to www.wharftheatre.co.uk