Wednesday, 27 April 2016

EARLY ENTERTAINERS

Rhyl entertainer

Recent mention of Adeler & Sutton's Pierrots on this blog brought some correspondence about early entertainers in Rhyl. Above is Charley or Charlie Harvey who was a prominent member of the Adeler troupe - no pun intended.

The photo was taken circa 1908 in Rhyl and shows Mr. Harvey wearing standard pierrot costume. Similar attire was still in use as late as 1940s. The following picture shows Rhyl Amphitheatre's resident Billie Manders' Quaintesques in 1941:

Rhyl concert party

Concert parties such as the two mentioned were principally theatrical. In that sense they differed from open air entertainers on our minstrel pitch even though the mix of comedy and music was somewhat similar.

The minstrel pitch on Rhyl sands is shown in the foreground here . . .

Beach sands, minstrel pitch

. . . and on your left in this shot dated 1905 taken from Queen's Palace:

Merrie Men, minstrel pitch

The minstrel pitch was established in 1890s by the council to get minstrels (strolling players) off the streets and get some rental money out of them.

First to take up the pitch were the black-faced Tom Wood & his Merry Men, then came E.H. Williams' Merrie Men (from 1899) and finally Gilbert Rogers' Jovial Jesters (from 1907 until 1920s):

Rhyl minstrels
Tom Wood & his Merry Men
Rhyl, minstrel pitch
Rhyl entertainers

Before leaving the topic of early entertainers here are two rare images from the Gilbert Rogers era, both dating from around 1909 and showing the newer, smaller edition of the pitch:

Rhyl, minstrel pitch

Rhyl, minstrel pitch

The pix of Quaintesques and Tom Wood & his Merrie Men are from Bill Ellis' book Entertainment in Rhyl and North Wales. The remainder are from Yours Truly.

--
Colin Jones / email: rhyl.colin.jones@live.co.uk

--