Rise and Fall of the Music Hall

Music Hall flourished in the second half of the nineteenth and the early decades of the twentieth centuries before it was superseded by cinema and television.  Halifax was well served by the Theatre Royal, the Palace Theatre and the Grand Theatre and Opera House at the end of North Bridge.  Nearer home, the alfresco pavilion at Sunny Vale provided a venue for variety theatre of high quality.  The story of Mildred Crossley and her Sunnyvalians, which included Roy Castle and Derek ‘The Pocket Comedian’ Hamer, is wonderfully documented in Chris Helme’s recent book, ‘A Postcard from Sunny Bunces’.

However, the days of ‘making our own fun’ are not a myth, and many local organisations, usually connected with churches, had amateur dramatic societies.  On four nights in the spring of 1924 the Lightcliffe Congregational Amateur Operatic Society performed  ‘A Country Girl’ (‘Lovely Scenery … Catchy Music … Charming Dresses … Rollicking Fun’).  Reserved seats were 2/4d. (12p), unreserved seats 1/6d. (7p).  The cast included familiar local names in Holgate, Bunce, Robinson and Laycock, while the chorus featured two well-known ladies, Miss E. Hayles and Miss F. Leach.  The producer and manager was Mr. Ramsden Townsend.

More than two decades later the Lightcliffe Cricket and Tennis Club Amateur Dramatic Society presented ‘The Young Mrs. Barrington’ by Warren Chetham Strode. Stage managers included Kenneth Enright and Brian Webb and the scenery was painted by David Moss.  The part of Josephine Barrington was played by Pauline M. Crook.  One of the advertisers in the programme was Milton Barritt, ‘High Class Butcher’, of 222, Wakefield Road, Miss Crook’s future father-in-law.

The illustration is of a local amateur dramatic society, but enquiries have failed to reveal which.  Someone must know.  Is that Bob Walker next to the end on the right of the back row?

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