Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Another bit of the story of Chorlton's first cinema and a performance of Dorothy in the April of 1914

Now I would like to think that one day I could identify these members of the Chorlton Operatic Society.

In 1910 their secretary was  Herbert Bayfield of 61 Claude Road, and their conductor a T M Ferneley, but of course three years later when they gave this performance at the Pavilion Theatre in the April of 1914 these two may have passed on to greater things.

But the picture remains a wonderful find and has set me off again thinking about just how much there was to do in Chorlton back in the early decades of the last century.

According to Kemp’s Almanack and Handbook for 1910, there was everything from an amateur gardening society, a drama club and Literary Association along with our operatic society and an orchestral society.

So plenty to do, and if instead if you fancied sport there were cricket, football, tennis, golf and hockey clubs which vied with lacrosse, cycling and bowling to draw the more athletic resident out to play.

Which brings me back to the operatic society and the Pavilion Theatre.

The society was active by 1910 and still going strong fifteen years later when the Manchester Guardian reported that the "Chorlton Operatic and Dramatic Society has given three successful performances of ‘Peg o’ My Heart” this week at the Chorlton Public Hall, in aid of the Widows and Orphans Fund of the National Union of Journalists.  A fourth and final performance of the play will take place tonight.”*

Back in 1914 they had been performing in aid of the Chorlton and District Nursing Association which was also listed in the Alamanck and run by Mrs Worlidge of 12 Edge Lane who would soon be running the Red Cross Voluntary Hospital in the Sunday School of the Baptist Church.

And so the picture does begin to tie many little things together.  The influx of new people into the township was sufficiently large and diverse to support many cultural activities and the Operatic Society were performing in the relatively new Pavilion on the corner of Wilbraham and Brantingham Roads.

It had been opened around 1904, soon changed its name to the Chorlton Theatre and Winter Gardens and from 1909 was our first cinema.

It remains a place that fascinates me and continues to offer up new stories ever since I came across a photograph of the place in the June of 1910.

And finally there was Mr Herbert Bayfield of 61 Claude Road whose address is listed in 1911 but is missing from the census record just a few month later, which is odd given that he had been living there by 1904.

But maybe he had moved on, which of course will perhaps mean he is not one of those on our picture.

Pictures; the Chorlton Operatic Society April 1914 from the Manchester Courier, courtesy of Sally Dervan, and the Chorlton Theatre and Winter Gardens, June 1910 from the Lloyd Collection

*Chorlton Dramatic Society’s Effort for Charity, Manchester Guardian November 21 1915.

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