Tim Sharman, of Warsaw, Poland, said: "Although I made dozens of visits to the Royal during my childhood and youth in the Forties and Fifties, the first thought that comes to mind is that I was in the theatre when Kennedy died.

"It was next morning when I heard the news, my mother bursting in to my bedroom waving the paper.

"I also recall seeing one of the last performances by Ralph Richardson, at the Royal, when he couldn't remember his lines"

Ruby Smith said: "I met my future husband Peter in the queue of the Theatre Royal. It was in the Thirties, and in those days there were two separate queues on the edge of the pavement, for the pit and for the gallery.

"I was still a schoolgirl, and I walked to school, saving my train fares so that I could pay a shilling for 'the gods'. I shared my father's enthusiasm for music and the theatre, and he used to take me to plays and touring opera at 'The Royal'. Now he was too ill, so I went on my own.

"The year was 1938 and I was 17, on that fateful day. I remembered it began to rain, so both the queues edged further onto the pavement to avoid the drips from the balustrade, and there was some confusion. A young man approached and asked me 'Excuse me, but are you the beginning or the end?' From those prophetic words, we started a lifetime together, 56 years in all, broken only by his war service. I was, indeed the beginning and the end."

Henry Wenstone said: "On March 5 1996, a tribute memorial concert was given in memory of David Land who had recently died. He was, of course, the man who bought the theatre in the Eighties when it was threatened with closure.

"I was fortunate to be present at the concert, seated behind a large gentleman who never stopped wriggling about on his seat and annoying me greatly. Eventually I saw his face in profile - it was Lord Lew Grade.

"On the bill was a unique act - Tim Rice singing with his pianist - Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber. Also on stage we saw Dame Vera Lynn, Sarah Brightman, Julie McKenzie and many other big names. It concluded with the Dagenham Girl Pipers - a truly memorable occasion to have been in the theatre on that day."