Markhouse Drama Club
& the Cyril Malyon Memorial Fund
MDC Website – ‘Catch Up’ with Friends & News of Members & School Staff
CMMF Projects – Website Additions
In contrast to the somewhat ‘limited’ size of the January edition, this latest Newsletter has a good deal more content and whilst it’s likely that most interest will be on the news of some ‘successes’ in ‘catching up’ with former members and school staff, the further development and changes to the website have dominated our work over the past few months – so it is perhaps appropriate to start with an outline of what has been done in this respect.
Whilst a few ‘housekeeping’ changes have been made to the ‘Markhouse School’ pages, where the slowly growing number of photographs have been organised into more specific categories, the main change has been in replacing many of the black and white production photographs with new coloured versions – such as the following Panto shots from Aladdin in 1968 and Babes in the Woods in 1973
So thanks to some ‘free software’, the wonders of modern technology and the good many hours of artistic endeavour put in by Peter B, we hope you will agree that these have improved the overall presentation of the website. The plays that have been colourised, along with some of those in the ‘Markhouse’ pages, are listed in ‘Website Additions’ at the end of the Newsletter. We have also started some further work on the ‘Members Page’ by complimenting the recently added ‘headshot’ photographs of our ‘contemporary’ contact list, with similar photographs for a number of other former members who are only included in the full membership list. The names of those added are also shown in the ‘Website Additions’ section with most of these having been taken from either the 1977 Farewell Event or our more recent contacts via Facebook – which is gradually helping us to increase the coverage!
Finally you will see that we have been able to add a few more pieces of production memorabilia and these even include what is becoming increasingly ‘hard to find’ Walthamstow Guardian Reports – either because a play wasn’t covered by their Drama Reporter or it was just ‘missed’ in our earlier searches at the British Library. The newly discovered report is of the 1960 production of ‘The Silver Curlew’ – duly found as a result of the recent request for a bit of memory searching for dates and cast names!
Although this ‘memory jogging appeal’ was, perhaps inevitably after a 40 year plus gap, always going to be a bit of a ‘long shot’, it has proved helpful and in addition to the above report, we have been able to accurately date and/or re-date a couple of other productions. This included the One Act play ‘They Simply fade Away’ which we are now pretty certain was staged in July 1969. Hopefully this new information may enable us to find something in the Guardian editions around that date.
Therefore some progress, although ironically the most significant gaps in our production listings are in 1973, 1974, 1975 and the whole of 1976! These are, of course, the final few years of the Drama Club’s existence which, one might think, would have been easier to recall than those at its outset in the mid-fifties!
However, that theory doesn’t factor in the well-known issues of ‘I can recall being in 1066 and All That’ (e.g. 56 years ago) but I can’t recall what I did last week – or in this case 1973/6 – just a mere 47 years ago!!!
So, thanks to those who responded and, if anyone else suddenly gets a brainwave about the dates and/or cast of any of the following plays then please get in touch!
One Act Plays: ‘Second Best Bed’(1968), ‘Hip Hip Horatious’, ‘Katy at School’, ‘One Black Rose’ (All 1962), ‘The Telephone Call’ (1967), ‘They Simply Fade Away’ (1969), ‘Ask A Silly Question’ (1974), ‘The Living Hell’ (undated) and ‘Red Hot Cinders’(undated). Full length plays: ‘The Brides of March’ and ‘Happy Days’
And just to finish this part of the Newsletter on the same theme of tracing ‘what, who and when’ etc, we wondered if anyone has a clue about this photograph that has recently come to light? We know, of course’ the ‘who’ as it clearly features Jill Cooper dancing – and a close look at some of the other cast in the wings may bring forth a ‘that looks like me’ – but what was the play? It certainly appears to have been on the original school stage – so pre 1966!!
Answers on a postcard etc etc!!!
Website Appeal Update
Many thanks to those members who responded to the recent Appeal which has helpfully added to the annual income that we have enjoyed over the past few years. As something of a bonus, this enabled us to take advantage of an offer to secure our ‘Domain Name’ for a five year period at the current cost so we will now avoid the year on year increases paid up to now. This now leaves us with a current annual expenditure of £200 and the increased income of £156 – so only a modest shortfall that we can currently meet from the remaining capital that we have. However, it would of course be very helpful and appreciated if we can reduce this by a few more Annual £12 Standing Orders and so, if you are prepared to help in this way, then please just let us know either via firstname.lastname@example.org or the Website Contact Page
We are therefore pretty much ‘committed’ up to 2027 and have so ensured that all ‘recent and forthcoming grandchildren’ will be able to see something of their Grandparents as teenagers – providing, of course, that we are happy to tell them where to look!!!!!!
‘Catch Up with Friends & News of Members’
The positive side of Social Media (Facebook) has again proved useful and we have enjoyed some limited success over the past few of months in tracing a couple former members – as below!
BUT FIRST — We thought that we ought to include this photograph of a ‘surprise’ Birthday Celebration for Norma which fortunately just happened to co-incide with the last MDC Committee meeting!
The ‘non surprise’ bit was finding out that more than one person around the table had a ‘sweet tooth’ – so generous of Norma to ‘willingly’ open and pass the choc box around!
Those former members in the 1956/61 Extended Year Group will no doubt remember Tony although his ‘thespian’ activities in several school plays did not, understandably, continue with the Drama Club – as other ‘adventures’ were awaiting him in his post Markhouse years! In this respect it was because Tony was the first Markhouse pupil (as far as we know) to ‘continue’ beyond the extended year and did so by transferring to the Sir George Monoux Grammar School and thereafter to Leeds University – thus proving Les Smith’s view about young people’s potential shouldn’t be judged at 11 years of age!
Tony paved the way for others from Markhouse to follow what is now a fairly common pattern of education. And, for good measure, he subsequently returned to Leeds University; albeit this time in the role of a Tutor!
We found Tony thanks to a Face Book picture of a Bus by James Street Bridge and his subsequent ‘comment’ that ‘I lived just around the corner’. So, no great ‘Einstein’ moment was required to link the name to his former home above the Barber’s Shop opposite the School Dining Room – and duly get in touch again – just a mere 60 years after leaving Markhouse!
Our top photograph is, no doubt, of him in his ‘Uni Days’ with the lower one in a more ‘thoughtful mood’ – perhaps pondering whether admitting to being in a few Markhouse School productions and, as a finale, directing ‘The Man Who Painted His Wife’s Nose Red’ in the 1960 School Drama Festival, was a wise thing to do?
Tony and his family live in Sheffield and, as some of us will be pleased to hear, he still appears to support the Spurs!
……………………………………………………………………………………….Sid Worth – ‘Mr Music’
Once we had sorted out who (amid several Facebook posts) had actually said that ‘they had met Sid Worth’s sister Pat a few days ago’, we were eventually pleased to get in touch with her and so achieve a little more success in our ongoing search for past Drama Club Members!
The original FacebookPost had marked the 21st Anniversary of the sudden and very untimely loss of Sid at the age of just 51. This was, of course, already known to several of our current members, but perhaps inevitably, not a great deal of the detail of all that he achieved in his post Drama Club years!
Many current MDC members will remember Sid and his cheery personality; albeit this was only really capitalised on just once ‘on stage’ via his typically humorous portrayal as ‘Pirate Sliddy’ in ‘Captain Blood’. Sid’s interests were very much in the back stage areas of lighting, sound, music and, of course, the development of Cathode Elysium Lights. This was Sid, John, Keith & Terry’s very successful venture that originated from a makeshift headquarters, lab and test site at Markhouse – otherwise known as the upstairs Stock Room!,
After School Sid tried a variety of jobs ranging from being a builder to a silk screen printer to a sound engineer – with the latter taking him into what was always his passion; this was the world of music where he clearly enjoyed and fulfilled his ambitions. Having learnt to play the guitar he not only started a number of his own bands, but also joined many on tour – including one with Joe Brown and The Brothers, as well as with others in both Australia and the States.
Sid married and had two daughters and moved to Bedford around 1980. It was here that he opened a record shop named ‘Union Street Music’; following this with a successful PA Rental business, another Music Shop and also being the co-founder of ‘Destination Venue’ and ‘Esquires’ – both music venues. It was through these ventures that he eventually became known as Bedford’s ‘Mr Music’. His musical legacy and his friendship with so many people and musicians in the Bedford area lives on and so much so that a Trust Fund was established in his name; along with an Annual Tribute Concert to encourage and showcase younger bands.
It’s good to know how much Sid achieved and how well liked and respected he became – a view well shown by the quote of a close friend in a local newspaper – saying ‘that he was ‘a top man who is still sadly missed’
Our full tribute to Sid and all that he achieved can be found on the Website’s ‘Memories Page’. This includes several more photographs from his ‘Musical’ life, the ‘Memorial Bench’ funded by his friends and some thoughts and comments from those of our number who were particularly close to him at the MDC
John Jones – ‘An Art Teacher of the finest quality’ – Leslie Smith
Just before the end of November we were contacted by Derek Steward with the sad news of the death of John Jones who was, as many members will recall, a very well respected and thought of Art Teacher from our Markhouse days.
John, who had reached the remarkable age of 102, was buried at St Peter’s on the 23rd November 2021, in the village of Clare, Suffolk, where he and his wife Elsje had lived in recent years.
After leaving the RAF, John trained as an art teacher at the South West Essex College of Arts and then began his new career at Markhouse in 1950; just a couple of years after the raising of the leaving age led to the redevelopment of the school from ‘Elementary’ to ‘Co-ed’ under the Headship of George Easton.
Les Smith, the new Headmaster, gives his own account of John as a member of the staff he ‘inherited’ in 1955, and described him as an Art Teacher of the finest quality. He also wrote that the enthusiasm he engendered amongst many pupils encouraged a him to start an After School Art Club; this being one of the first of such activities that the school would go on to offer.
Les Smith also recounted that John’s work met with many successes during the ensuing years and, along with the Woodwork and Metalwork Departments, Markhouse won many awards – including those at the first Youth Arts & Crafts Exhibition organised by the Walthamstow Rotary Club. A fitting reward for John and his colleagues at a prestigious event held in the impressive Foyer of the Granada.
John, along with his close colleague and friend Cyril Malyon, had led the way in this exciting development of After School activities and it was no surprise that he similarly enjoyed a good deal of ongoing contact with many of his former pupils in their post school years. As Les Smith also stated – ‘this was very much the proof of the results of good teaching reaping the rewards of student loyalty’
We also know from MDC members that many were grateful for John’s personal support and encouragement; particularly so when they had experienced some difficulties and pressures in other areas of their school or personal life.
John had willingly been there for them when they needed a sympathetic ear and support; as well as to also being ready to ‘challenge’ them when it was required.
Some of John’s contact with his former pupils was lifelong and this was perhaps no better demonstrated than by Dick Dunn when he was able to post the following ‘announcement’ in his original ‘walthamstowhistory’ website:
‘it is with great pleasure to be able to announce that John Jones, the much loved art teacher at Markhouse, was married on 4th March 2010 (aged 91) to Elsje the village of Clare in Suffolk’
John will be remembered by former Markhouse pupils and colleagues alike – particularly for his dedication to his work, his good friendship and great sense of fun – which, we are given to understand, was particularly welcomed and enjoyed by other Markhouse staff!
The above tribute is now included in the Memories Page of the MDC Website and is complemented by another with more detail of John’s post Markhouse and family life and interests which has been written by his colleague, and close friend at Markhouse, Derek Steward
A recently discovered Guardian Newspaper Report and Photograph (of John) of the inaugural Arts & Crafts Exhibition mentioned above, can now be found in ‘Guardian & Independent Newspaper Report’ Gallery in the websites ‘Markhouse School’ Page
And, as a ‘FINALE’ to this part of the Newsletter – herewith a very recently ‘rediscovered’ photograph of 4 former members – although not, on this occasion, in a MDC setting nor in costume – fortunately!
We hope that a good number of current members will enjoy being reminded of the quartet of Gerald Aylott, Gary Woods, Barrie Trevellyan and Fred Page.
Editor’s Note: If the photographer’s memory serves him correctly then it seems likely that a modicum of alcohol was probably present on this occasion – as at least two of them appear to have needed to prop themselves up on a sideboard!
‘Alas poor Pocket Knife’ etc etc!
It’s hard to take in that our initial discussions about the ‘Pocket Knife’ Project at Tendring College actually took place three years ago; also that if not unavoidably postponed due to the first Covid ‘Lockdown’, it would have been completed two years ago – almost to the day! The latter of these was really frustrating as it was just a week prior to the project’s ‘in house’ college performance and the series of ‘outreach’ performances at several other schools over the following month.
Whilst we continued to hope that the project would still be completed it became increasingly obvious that some of the young people involved would be ‘moving on’ and probably not be available at a future date. Despite this there was still the hope of getting the project to a ‘final curtain’ with a partly replacement cast, but just before the end of last year the decision was taken, jointly by the College and ourselves, that this was just not going to be possible. The movement of pupils, along with the changes in staffing at the College, making this decision inevitable.
So – ‘almost’ another project to add to those already funded in Mr M’s memory, but at least we have the satisfaction of knowing that all the effort and commitment of the young people still encouraged their interest in the performing arts, enabled them to be creative and to learn from working as a team. Perhaps, above all, it also helped them gain a better understanding and more personal confidence around the still prevalent and concerning issue of teenage knife crime.
The experience has therefore been important for those involved and we are in discussion with the College about how we can, in some way, ‘formally’ acknowledge this. It seems likely that this will be in some form of certification that can be included in their CV’s which will be something they can, as they move on, show to potential employers and other educational/training bodies
HOWEVER – the above decision may not be the sole outcome of our last meeting at the College as we also discussed the possibility of a ‘replacement’ project with their new Drama Tutor; one that could be linked to their hope of starting an After School Drama Group at their Frinton Campus; this with an older age group than those who had been involved with ‘Pocket Knife’.
In principle this looks to be a good way forward and would still also be ‘affordable’ as we did not, in the end, incur any expenditure on the ‘Pocket Knife’ project wherein our funding was almost wholly related to the outreach performances at other local schools.
Any new proposal will, of course, still need to be acceptable to us in terms of its content and the numbers and ages of the young people who will be involved – so ‘watch this space’ – again!!!
With regards to ‘Pocket Knife’ we hope that this brilliantly written and devised short play that portrays the results of one young person within a group of friends deciding to carry, ‘but not use’, a pocket knife, will eventually be performed – It deserves to be!
Walthamstow Bound? – Highly Probable!
As noted in our last few Newsletters, and whilst still allowing for the above possibilities at Frinton College, we will still have sufficient funds for what would then be a ‘final’ CMMF project
However’ given that no ‘link’ to develop one has been forthcoming for quite some time and that this position seems unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, we felt that we needed to look at some alternative options for completing this area of our work – and therefore did so at our recent meeting.
This resulted in a decision to take a more flexible approach to our funding criteria of a project having, in some way, to be ‘linked’ to, and developed through, a former MDC member.
The idea of a bit more flexibility, albeit only to apply to a final project, proved fruitful and resulted in a decision to explore whether we can promote one with a youth group, school or community group located ‘back in Walthamstow’. We felt that this would provide an appropriate finale in recognising Mr M’s work with us, as it would offer the same sort of opportunity that we enjoyed to a group of young people now growing up in the area in which we spent our teenage years – and, of course, where Mr M gave so much to so many young people throughout his teaching and youth work career!
As a result we recently approached a school, not a stone throw from where we ‘trod the boards’ of the MDC stage, to ask whether they would be interested in undertaking a project that we might be able to fund. Ideally this would be something that would be over and above what they might already be planning and would involve a group of young people in a new and challenging experience.
Although this was a bit of a ‘long shot’ with the continuing pressures and limitations on schools, it is really good to report that the Head of Drama at Kelmscot High School has been in touch and confirmed their interest. From their initial response it appears that the performing arts has a positive profile within the school curriculum – even to the extent of having a relatively new outdoor amphitheatre in the campus – so obviously a bit more space than Markhouse ‘enjoyed’
A meeting with the Head of Drama has just taken place where the school’s continued interest was confirmed and, at this very initial stage, we have asked them to look to provide an outline proposal of a performing arts projects for us to consider and discuss with them in the not too distant future.
Hopefully we might even strike up such a positive relationship that, in addition to the funding, as an encore to a hoped for eventual project, we can also offer to perform ‘Excerpts from the MDC Panto’s 1960/77’ – outdoors in the amphitheatre – mid July – of course! But then again, the date of the distribution of this Newsletter might reflect the seriousness of this thought!!!
So – as above – watch this space!
WEBSITE ADDITIONS – APRIL 2022
The additional memorabilia listed in this Newsletter has now been added to the ‘Latest Website Additions’ page