The death knell has sounded for a historic theatre but the youth company which runs the venue vows the show will go on.

Barton Green Theatre, in Elm Road, announced it will shut at the end of March but the Green Theatre Company (GTC), formally known as Malden Youth Theatre, will move to the Cornerhouse in Surbiton.

The theatre, which is the only one in the area, opened in 1986 and has run on a voluntary basis since, with the aim to bring quality drama to the area, particularly to 14-to-25-year-olds.

The closure follows an ongoing battle by the theatre company to raise the funds to maintain the theatre, which is housed in a converted cricket pavilion.

Coombe Vale Councillor Lynne Finnerty said the closure was a huge shame but could understand that maintaining the building, which is conditional to the lease, is a tough challenge.

She said: “I think it’s a shame because it’s been there for some time and offers drama to young people in the area.”

Kingston resident Joe Morgan said he was impressed with the recent production of The Real Inspector Hound, but said the disrepair of the building took away from what was a fantastic performance.

He said: “I was surprised a theatre like that could survive during the winter months.

“I am sad about the theatre closing, but I can’t say I was surprised.

“They’re a talented company, and the most important thing is that they continue their work.”

Coun Finnerty said she didn’t know what would happen to the building but hoped it could be put to use by the community, who she is urging to put forward ideas.

She said: “It would be very sad to lose the community building. It’s all about the community and what’s needed and what’s wanted, especially as it’s got such history.”

Despite its difficulties the GTC were known for welcoming new actors, directors and technicians and aimed to put on five productions a year, which ranged from comedies to one-man acts and dramas.

Past shows included Toad of Toad Hall, Romeo and Juliet and Grease and the GTC has taken part in festivals such as Kingston Arts Festival, Malden Fortnight, Elmbridge Drama Festival and the All-England Theatre Festival.

Korean theatre group Theatre for All has also partnered with the GTC in the past.

Theatre for All director Bona Shin said: “It’s a shame because it could have been open to more of the public and different organisations could have come in.”

Kingston council, who let the property to the GTC, said they have granted them £8,647 since 2008 for running costs, maintenance, marketing and publicity and production costs.

A further grant of £2,763 for producing three plays is to be considered by the council on March 27 this year.

A council spokesman said: “The theatre advised us before Christmas that they did not intend to renew their lease and will be leaving towards the end of March.

“We have no current plans for this building at present but will be looking at options for its reuse or reletting.”

The former cricket pavilion, which was converted 26 years ago, is believed to be named in memory of Cyril Barton, a Halifax bomber pilot who was awarded the Victoria Cross in the Second World War.

Plt Off Barton was awarded the VC after completing a fatal bombing mission, despite his plane being severely crippled and ablaze following an attack by a German fighter.

Despite making it back across the channel, Plt Off Barton died, aged 22, after being forced to crash land with only one propeller and no petrol in County Durham in 1944.

His selfless actions had saved the remaining members of his crew.

Before joining the RAF the former Coombe Boys’ School pupil lived in Elm Road, New Malden with his parents, and he is believed to be the only VC holder buried in Kingston.

The Surrey Comet launched a campaign to raise £25,000 for the theatre to secure its future in 2007.

Sir Peter Hall and Peter Leslie Wild, the producer of The Archers, were among community figureheads who rallied around in support of the campaign.

Mr Wild, who used to direct plays at Barton Green and now directs professionally as well as being a senior radio producer at the BBC, acknowledged the importance of youth theatre.

Former MP for Richmond Park Baroness Susan Kramer also vowed to help the theatre after years seeing her own daughter flourish on stage as she was growing up.

In the same year, the Green Theatre Company, whose former members include comic David Walliams, forged links with Korean theatre company Theatre for All in a bid to strengthen the future of theatre in New Malden.