News spread like wildfire when music director Robert Hammersley announced he was staging an opera.

More than 200 people of all ages responded, all from the Iffley, Rose Hill, Donnington and Littlemore areas of Oxford.

Administrator Elizabeth Kabbara said: “I’ve never known anything like it in Oxford.

“We were all amazed at the initial response from people and their willingness to do whatever they could to help.”

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Inspired by JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the musical was a full-length opera of the same name penned by Mr Hammersley, former head of music at Peers School, Littlemore.

The show had 100 children and adults on stage, plus an orchestra, make-up artists and costume designers.

Two performances were held in St Augustine’s School hall at Iffley Turn in 1987.

All the stage roles were played by local schoolchildren, their relatives and friends, and the orchestra was made up of local musicians.

Non-performing parts also stayed in the area, with children from nearby Iffley Mead special school making the star of the show – the large blue dragon in the picture above.

Mrs Kabbara said: “The dragon is very impressive.

It has to be the most spectacular thing in the whole production.”

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Mr Hammersley, of Abberbury Road, Iffley, got the idea of writing the opera when he read the Tolkien tale to his daughter.

The fantasy author lived in Oxford for many years and was part of the Inklings literary group which would meet at The Eagle and Child pub in St Giles. Narnia creator CS Lewis was also a member of the group of writers.