Friday, 24 March 2017

MINSTRELS, PIERROTS AND JOLLY BOYS


This being Red Nose Day, let’s salute early Rhyl entertainers in whose acts comedy played a big part. These images are all new to this blog:

Tom Wood Rhyl

The above is from the 1880s. Tom Wood's Merry Men was the first troupe at our council-owned 'minstrel pitch' on the sands. Minstrel shows were a combination of music & comedy. Tom Wood was a professional comedian who died aged 27.

Merry had given way to Merrie by the time E.H. Williams & his Merrie Men took over from Tom Wood at the pitch. Mr. Williams was a canny self-publicist well known in Rhyl. Edward Henry Street is thought to be named after him (because we already had a Williams Street).


A few routines by E.H. & his M.M. who are shown above on the minstrel pitch, were captured by Rhyl film maker Arthur Cheetham. These included the 1899 knockabout sketch illustrated below. The still is from the book 'Wales And Cinema' by David Berry:


Click on any picture to see a bigger version.

Arthur Sutcliffe, Bert Erroll

Above is a card postmarked 1907 - Adeler & Sutton's Pierrots at a kiosk on the pier. Halfway up the ladder is Arthur Sutcliffe. The lady at the foot of the ladder is no lady, it's female impersonator Bert Erroll.

Below is a 1907 photo of Adeler & Sutton's Gay River Company posing opposite East Parade near sandhills. Front centre is Frank Dunlop who has been described by Bill Ellis as the company's leading man, and on your right of him is - yes - Bert Erroll again.


Finally an item from Easter 1912 or '13: Jolly Boys visiting the ornamental fountain opposite West Parade to render the song 'By The Fountain' which was generally popular at the time.
Later the name Jolly Boys was used in 1920s by Billy Churchill's resident troupe at the Coliseum on the prom. Perhaps it was a generic term for this kind of daftness.


[Incidentally, the song 'By The Fountain' had words by F.E. Weatherly and music by Stephen Adams who was a Liverpool-born composer of mainly religious songs. Stephen Adams and his brother James have both been suspected of being Jack the Ripper - and that's no joke.]

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FRI 21st APR 2017 UPDATE: Speaking of Jolly Boys, what do you make of this Jolly Boys Football Club card postmarked 1911?


Names of the personnel illustrated, who appear to be younger than the entertainers of same name, are listed here for indexing purposes:
B, Craighill, J. Lamb, T. Burns, C. Manley, R. Jones, W. Jones, W. Davies, H. Lloyd, T.A. Williams (Captain), H. Jones (Chairman), G. Simcock, J.E. Pritchard (Vice Captain), T. Roberts.

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