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Archive for the ‘Leisure’ Category

Presentation in Studio Cinema foyer – 1984

A Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) presentation in the foyer of The Studio. This is the only photo we have of the interior of the cinema. Does it bring back memories for you? Do you have photos taken inside the building?

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The Bletchley Gazette dated June 22, 1957 reported that the County Cinema in High Street, Fenny Stratford was closing down.

The building was originally High Street Methodist Chapel which was converted into the County Cinema in 1911.

The cinema had  various names over the years including King Georges,and was one of the oldest in the country outside London.

Like many children in Bletchley I went to “Saturday morning Pictures” at The County every week. The programme consisted of a serial, a cartoon and a “big picture”, usually a cowboy film (e.g. Roy Rogers)  or a comedy (Laurel and Hardy). It was good value at 6d in the stalls, or 9d in the balcony.

 

 

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One of the highlights of the year in the town when I was a teenager was the Bletchley Show.

It was held in the Manor Fields on August Bank Holiday Monday and was a big event.

There were athletics events, Tug of war, Gymkhana, Flower, and Vegetable Shows, Cycle Races, and other events.

If you lived locally you could have the back of your hand stamped, go home for lunch, and get back in free.

It was a great day out for all the family.

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We like to help Living Archive with their projects so please have a look at this flyer and tell anyone you know who might have memories or photos. Rugby has been played in Bletchley for many years so there must be some good stories out there.

Rugby Memories Wanted

Rugby Memories Wanted

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Rugby’s coming to Bletchley was the line used for the Rugby World Cup matches at Stadium MK but we know it’s been around in this area for much longer.

Bletchley Town Rugby Club was formed in 1947 and by the January of the following year was ready to take to the field or its first competitive match.  The first point scorer was Vince Hankins, who converted a 40 yard penalty goal – no mean feat in the days of heavy, leather rugby balls! (Source:Punting The Pill About, by Colin Spence)

Other local teams in the Milton Keynes area go back even further. Wolverton Rugby club originally formed in the mid 1870s and, after a break covering the period of the two world wars, reformed in 1958. Their name was changed in 1974 to Milton Keynes Rugby Club.

The first recorded game involving Olney Rugby Club took place in 1877 on Cherry Orchard, a meadow on the banks of the River Ouse (now a cemetery).

So while we welcome the international interest, and enjoy the attention (if not the traffic), we must remember that the game has long history in the area, thanks to the enthusiasm of many volunteers and amateur players.

Bletchley Rugby Club celebrate a victory!

Bletchley Rugby Club celebrate a victory!

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Following our recent publication of information about The Jollities concert party Margaret Breedon (née Hawes) has kindly provided us with this record of her family’s contribution to entertainment in the district.

Although Sammy was probably the best known entertainer of his family, he is not the only one.

Florence Hawes and friend

Florence Hawes and friend

His son Ken has also made a name for himself locally, as a Conjuror. We have in our archives a picture of these two ladies and the only clue to who they are is in the file name: “Florence Hawes (on the left) and friend dressed for “Hospital Day” – probably the Fancy Dress

Competition.  Florence was Sam’s mother – she died on 1 January 1946 aged 54. The photo was probably taken in the mid 1930s.  Can anybody tell us when and where it was taken, please.

Sam was the third child and eldest son of William George (Dickie) and Florence (nee WOODWARD).  He had two elder sisters, Florence (Florrie), and Nellie  – his younger siblings were Phyllis (Phyl), Frederick George (known as George), Donald (known as Dick), Queen, and Gerald (known as Gerry).  They were all born and raised at 5 Denbigh Road, Bletchley (but in the parish of Simpson).

In 1924 he performed in the school production of the operetta ‘The Raja of Rajput’.  Maybe ‘a seed was sown’ during this production – this could have been where his love of entertaining began.

In 1947, Sam married Elizabeth Catherine (nee HAWKINS) – known as Cassie – at Holyhead, Anglesey, her home town.  They didn’t have a honeymoon.  After their wedding, they travelled back to Bletchley and began married life in two rooms at 8 High Street, Fenny Stratford (next door to Martell’s Coal Merchants).  An old lady named Mrs Chamberlain lived in the other part of the house.

By 1951 they had moved to Oakwood Drive, Bletchley where they raised their family – Margaret, Ken and Jean.

As they didn’t have a television until 1960, winter Sunday evenings were spent playing simple word games.  After the word games it was time to listen to “Sing Something Simple”, so out would come Sam’s mouth organ or melodeon and the whole family would sing all the old songs.  As a special treat the children were allowed to stay up and listen to Radio Luxembourg.

Sometime during 1963, the Youth Club at Queensway Methodist Church gave a concert which Sam attended, as Maggie, Ken and Jean were taking part.  He realised that there was quite a lot of talent in the family, so he proposed that the family should start its own concert party.  From then on until the early 1970s Sam very much enjoyed entertaining others at old peoples’ homes, old peoples’ clubs, women’s institutes etc., alongside his family.  He acted as Master of Ceremonies cracking jokes which he read from scraps of paper!!  He also did a Performing Fleas act where he would pretend to have fleas performing on a high wire.  He would shout “Hally-up” and the ‘imaginary’ flea would do a somersault – right at the end of the act one of the “so called” fleas refused to perform, so he would go out into the audience and say, “Excuse me madam, I must have the wrong flea – can I have mine back please?”  He got away with it every time – nobody got offended!!  He also sang solos and played his saw.  Ken did his magic act and sometimes sang “Hole in the Ground”, or “The Old Sow”.  Maggie sang solos and Jean joined her in singing duets.  At the beginning of the family concert party, Mrs Ivory was the pianist – her husband also helped out with singing solos etc.  Later on, Connie Pether (nee Sylvester), a friend from his previous concert parties, was the pianist and piano accordionist – she also brought along Margaret Baker (piano accordionist) and her two daughters Marilyn and Janet Baker to help out with solo items.  By the late 1960s they were called “The Jollities” (after Sam’s old wartime concert party) and by then Ken Breedon (Maggie’s boyfriend – later husband) had also joined the party as a pianist.

Sam was born with a ‘hole in the heart’ and by the time he was 54 his health started to fail.  In 1968 he had pioneering heart surgery where the aortic valve was replaced with a plastic one – he was also one of the first patients to have a pacemaker fitted.  All this work was carried out by a very dedicated team at the National Heart Hospital in London.  After the operation he had a new lease of life for a while and continued to play his saw as a guest artiste at various local concerts.  Sadly, after five years his health started to deteriorate again and he had to take life at a slower pace.  He died on 25 March 1978 at the age of 65 – almost ten years after his life saving operation.

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This is part of  a serial. To get the full Jollities story please start at Part 1

Sammy Hawes was born on 7 March 1913 and became a very experienced entertainer (in the 1930s he had been a member of the Busy Bees concert party) and his act with marionettes was staged in a booth similar to a Punch & Judy show; at the front it had theatre-like curtains and a plain black curtain back-drop which had a slit in the centre through which Sammy could push his head. After doing so he would then hang the ‘headless’ marionette below his own face and manipulate the arms and legs in a natural manner. In this way he was able to create many characters (which I think were made by him) but the two that I remember clearly were first his bridesmaid’s outfit of dress, flowers and a wig which he wore and the second, and clearly my most favourite, was a cowboy for which he wore a Stetson hat, a neckerchief and was seated upon a horse which he made rear up while at the same time he waved his hat at the audience! Each of his changes was accompanied by a suitable song which for the bridesmaid was “Why am I always the bridesmaid, never the blushing bride . . .?” and for the cowboy “Home, home on the range, where the deer and antelope roam . . .”.

Playing the saw in the 1960s

Playing the saw in the 1960s

 

Sammy’s supporting act was to play a carpenter’s saw using a violin bow; he would sit on a chair centre stage and place the saw upright with the handle between his knees then while holding the end of the blade with his left hand, he could flex the saw up and down while drawing the bow back and forth across the back edge of the blade to create a melodious sound. I found him a very kindly man and an extremely clever entertainer.

STOP RESS Soon after the above piece was written, Sammy’s grandson Stuart was able to ‘capture’ some images of his granddad that were on an old family cinefilm which was shot only just in time. Maggie relates: “I think the filming was done circa 1956 by my Mum who was laughing ‘her head off’ and had a job to keep the camera straight!!” and came about because, when telling his children about his wartime experiences he remembered that after the war ended he had packed all his gear away in the garden shed. However, when he came to retrieve his props he was dismayed to see how moth-eaten and grubby they had become. But fortunately, these pictures do show how Sammy created his act!

A bridesmaid and a pierrot - and a final bow

A bridesmaid and a pierrot – and a final bow

When surfing the Web for more information I found a mention, via the link below, which states that Sammy on one occasion applied to audition for the Caroll Levis show, but unfortunately he was unsuccessful, unlike a Bletchley ladies’ band.

http://www.mkheritage.co.uk/mkha/mkha/projects/jt/bletchley/docs/vol-2.html

Return to Part 2

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