Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wakefield Theatre Club

Earlier this year, we were thrilled to receive a fantastic collection of Wakefield Theatre Club memorabilia from a generous donor. The material was mainly collected in 1970s by Isabel Cheston, who worked at the club’s cigarette kiosk.


Wakefield Theatre Club was part of the vibrant local variety scene along with the likes of Batley Variety Club. The memorabilia, including flyers, posters and programmes, reveals the long and eclectic list of stars who performed at the club.


Club members were treated to a wide range of different performances: from singers, dancers and orchestras to comedians, ventriloquists and strong women like Joan Rhodes. Known as the Mighty Mannequin, she was famed for bending steel bars and tearing telephone directories in half whilst wearing fishnet tights and high heels.


Working at the club, Isabel was lucky enough to meet many of the performers. She amassed a vast collection of stars’ autographs. The examples below are just a flavour of the whole collection.




Sometimes, Isabel must have grabbed whatever she had to hand for the artists and celebrity patrons to sign- Leeds United footballer, Billy Bremner autographed a page from a waitress’s notepad, whilst Les Dawson signed the back of a fragment of a London Underground map!

The collection also includes a selection of menus from the club’s restaurant. Audiences could treat themselves to a meal before a performance. In 1970 patrons could start with either grapefruit or prawn cocktail followed by a choice of scampi, steak, gammon, chicken, or plaice all served with chipped potatoes. Pie and peas was a cheaper alternative or there were salads as a healthier option. A bottle of Moet & Chandon to wash it all down with would’ve set you back 49/- or, if you preferred, it cost 2/10 for a pint of bitter or 1/6 for a Coca-Cola or lime and lemon.

Were you a member at the Theatre Club? Who do you remember seeing and were you lucky enough to meet any stars?

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