A golden age of entertainment

The bandstand in Crow Nest Park, once the focal point of this beautiful part of Dewsbury. It was the place where people like my parents and grandparents could be entertained at weekends and during Dewsbury Feast Week. There were bands and orchestras playing most weekends and dancing in the evenings. This attractive bandstand was dismantled many years ago, and although there were promises made by the old Dewsbury Council that one day it would be reassembled, it never was. Picture by kind permission of Kirklees Archives. (d291111100)
The bandstand in Crow Nest Park, once the focal point of this beautiful part of Dewsbury. It was the place where people like my parents and grandparents could be entertained at weekends and during Dewsbury Feast Week. There were bands and orchestras playing most weekends and dancing in the evenings. This attractive bandstand was dismantled many years ago, and although there were promises made by the old Dewsbury Council that one day it would be reassembled, it never was. Picture by kind permission of Kirklees Archives. (d291111100)

SOMETIMES I wish that television had never been invented and that we could go back to the old days when we left our homes at night to be entertained instead of sitting glued to the telly watching programmes we’ve seen before.

In the old days we went out in the evenings and actually mixed with people, and at weekends we went to local parks and sometimes ventured further afield to beauty spots like Coxley Valley, often walking there because the buses didn’t run on Sundays, and nobody had cars.

There was always something going off in Crow Nest Park, bands playing and dancing in the evening, and you always bumped into someone you knew.

At night there were five cinemas all showing the latest films and they were all within a few yards of each other.

The town centre used to be crowded, and I don’t have to mention the number of pubs and clubs because I’ve listed them many times before.

If you did happen to stay at home you could sit quietly in front of a blazing fire reading a book or listening to the radio or playing gramophone records.

There was also plenty of live entertainment to be had at the Dewsbury Empire, concerts at the town hall, and local churches which had their own drama groups and regularly put on plays. There was something for everyone.

Sometimes when I think back to those days I wonder what our grandparents would have thought about the kind of entertainment we enjoyed then.

They didn’t have five cinemas to go to, so what kind of entertainment was on offer for them?

In 1910 when my grandmother was a young woman, all the entertainment in Dewsbury was live and was provided by three theatres; the Dewsbury Empire, the Theatre Royal and the Dewsbury Hippodrome.

Every week these theatres advertised forthcoming attractions in the Reporter and how different they were to those on offer today.

Just out of interest, and as a piece of social history, I am reproducing the following items which appeared in the paper to give you some idea of how much entertainment in Dewsbury has changed:

THEATRE ROYAL

The Angel of His Dreams is the title of a play produced for the first time in Dewsbury. It is a melodrama of the heart and hatred type, and many thrilling episodes, which keep the audience spell-bound, are depicted as the plot is unravelled.

There are several strong characters, and the play affords much scope for fine acting.

Next week Nora Carlton and Beatrice Selwyn’s Company will present a new drama of thrilling and domestic interest entitled, Temptation.

DEWSBURY HIPPODROME

Excellent fare has been served to Hippodrome patrons this week, and business has been brisk. Marionettes are with us again and are as popular as ever. The diverting antics of the merry mannikins cause endless amusement.

The show is also well staged and is presented by Willards’ Company. The Ramond Trio, who are triplets, provide an excellent musical and dancing turn, their efforts being much appreciated.

A novel comedietta, Wayside Tinkers, is presented by Olive and Owen in which vocal music plays a large part. The humorous part of the programme falls to the lot of Lucy Lynd, a character comedienne. Other turns in a really good bill are Tom Yorke, character comedian; Arthur Harris, actor vocalist; and Lew Towers, chorus vocalist.

DEWSBURY EMPIRE

It would be difficult to name the chief attraction at the Empire this week, as there is more than one turn that might justly be given the premier place on the bill. Jim Rudenyi actually occupies that position, and with his company, presents a large playlet, The Power of Music.

Rudenyi is a violinist of a high order, beside being an actor of no small ability. Entertainment of another sort is provided by John Grun Marx, and the manner in which he breaks chains, horseshoes and other articles, which to the ordinary man are ‘unbreakable’, justifies his description on the programme as King of all Strong Men.

A most weird and uncanny exhibition is given by Juno Salmo, “The Devil Dandy”. Dressed in a scarlet costume, and provided with horns and a tail, he contours his long body in a most extraordinary way, producing an effect that for gruesomeness, could scarcely be excelled by the Evil One himself.

Charles Wilson gives a splendid display of jumping, and the grace and ease with which he accomplishes most difficult feats wins the admiration of all.

Carl Lynn gives some excellent imitation of animals, and his ‘cat’s concert makes a great hit.

Other artistes taking part are Wyllie, the tramp musician; John Partington, a youth with a soprano voice; Emmie Ames, comedienne and Harry Bancroft, actor and vocalist.

Next week: Ivan Tschernoff’s ponies, hounds, fox terriers and pigeons and his musical pony. Also Steve Bartle, concertina player, Mahatma the queen of second sight and a mistress of modern miracles; the Four Garricks, in songs and dances; Madge Osmond, The Ideal Dandy and the Brothers Ashley in a comedy boxing sketch.