Markhouse Drama Club
& The Cyril Malyon Memorial Fund
Recent News – Markhouse School Memories & Parent’s 1966 Protest – Frank’s Maritime Interest – Stan Rayner’s Farewell – ‘Lost & Found’ – ‘Bits & Pieces’ – Annual Accounts – Website Additions
A Tribute to Jane Clarke (Halliday)
Sadly, our Newsletter begins with the news we received in June of the untimely loss of Jane Clarke and her family’s thoughts of how much she will be missed by them and her many friends
Jane was among the first group of ‘non ex Markhouse pupils’ to join the Drama Club after the school closed in 1966; having been coaxed and encouraged into membership by Mr Malyon – which he saw, no doubt, as one of his first ‘duties’ and opportunities after being redeployed to the nearby Beaconsfield School where Jane was a pupil.
A number of Jane’s class mates and friends at Beaconsfield, including Angela and Lesley, were recruited in this way; with Lesley recalling that:
‘’Mr Malyon, who was our English/Drama teacher, basically asked us in one of his lessons if we would like to join a local Drama Club and we decided to just go along to see what it was all about – and as history shows – we just loved it. And that’s how it all started. We all have such fond memories of working on Plays and especially the pantomimes which were Jane’s favourite with all the fun and laughter they involved”
Lesley has also told us a little of Jane’s life after leaving Beaconsfield and how she first worked near St Paul’s in London and thereafter for a company that travelled round schools to perform plays and pantomimes.
‘Jane really loved this role where she would audition people to perform in the various schools and she continued there for a number of years; initially fulltime and then in a part time capacity until she became unwell in 2019.
She was such a lovely soul and always fun to be around. Her humour was ‘just Jane’ and everyone and everything came alive in her presence as she could light up any room with her quirky humour and joyful smiles – along with Angela we had always kept in touch as we lived near one another and we would always end up laughing about something’.
On looking back through the Drama Club’s productions, the earliest one in which Jane is noted is Little Miss Muffet in 1969 but, as the website shows, many more followed over the ensuing years and continued right up to the eventual closure in 1977 – so clearly Jane was very much a committed, long term and, of course, much valued and liked member
Unfortunately, some of us members who were in our final years at the Drama Club when Jane first joined, only saw an early and brief amount of her involvement and were not there to enjoy seeing her as she progressed into more substantial parts; nor as Lesley indicates above, what must have been the very easy ‘entry’ that her sense of humour and fun enabled her to make into the ‘burlesque’ traditions of the Markhouse Panto’s.
However, some of us were, more fortunately, able to see a belated sample of this when, along with Lesley and Angela, Jane gave us a fitting and very funny farewell ‘song’ and exit at the last Drama Club Re-union! What a great pity no one was quick enough to get a phone out and film it – but that very ‘Markhouse style’ moment is cherishe
This tribute, which along with a photograph of Jane from the 1977 ‘Mother Goose’ pantomime and a brief extract from John Payne’s programme notes from that final MDC production, has been added to the Website
Lost or Waylaid? – but very pleasingly found and restored!!!
It’s not an unusual occurrence, when browsing through or updating the Website, to find the occasional typo, spelling error, an incomplete item or something in the wrong place! But to find that two of the short films from the pages of the CMMF Performing Arts Projects had disappeared felt like an absolute disaster cum mystery – especially as those of us pretending to be ‘amateur webmasters could honestly hold up our hands (which really hadn’t pressed the wrong key) and claim not guilty!
The films missing were from ‘Voice from the Streets’ and the documentary produced by the Essex Police as part of the ‘Save Lives – Drop the Knifes’ project that Ray Aylott had initiated through his work as a Police Community Service Officer. Fortunately, we had a copy of the Croydon based ‘Voice from the Streets’ film and that of the actual film of the ‘Save Lives’ project – but not of this documentary about its making which, for many of us, carried a great deal of personal nostalgia as Ray himself provides the introduction.
A few enquiries to those better ‘in the know’ about YouTube, on which both these films were linked, revealed some changes to what they would host for free on their site. The net result appearing to be that both films had been deleted – but when or exactly why, we know not! Our initial hope was that a copy may have been given to Ray and Sues children but this proved not to be the case. However, help was at hand from this direction as Matthew, their Son in Law, had also been with the Essex Police and duly furnished the name of who to contact; e.g., the Chief Constable – so right to the top no less!
Fortunately the response to our request to provide a copy of the film was well received and thanks to Matthew and one of his former colleagues coaxing this along, a copy of the documentary was forthcoming. This is now linked directly on our site on the CMMF Projects pages with the above screenshot of Ray now duly included.
Just have another look at it on the website. I hope that when you see Ray and his very passionate and professional introduction to this part of his overall project, that you will understand why we were so keen to ‘get him back’ DM
FRANK’S ‘OTHER’ INTEREST
Many Markhouse school pupils, no doubt including a good number of our own DC members, will recall the regular ‘format and style’ of their Metalwork Classes with Frank Gizzi; also, in particular, of his other overriding, passionate and all-consuming interest (besides trying to teach his pupils how to file a piece of metal ‘flat and square’) that is evident in this recently unearthed Walthamstow Guardian Article!
Comments and personal experiences about this short article are welcomed for the next edition – e.g.: like how it took some of us three years or so to master the above noted skill before being able to move on to actually making something.
‘I think my first piece was an ashtray – creative but not functional for a non-smoker’
Significantly, in terms of the above ‘drinka pinta day’ comment beneath the picture, some former members might also recall Frank’s answer to increasing the supply of raw materials to the metalwork store via the daily collection and melting down of milk bottle tops; which was no doubt what the above ashtray was made of – probably an unusual practise but nevertheless environmentally ahead of the times
Bits & Pieces.
Missing 1956 Essex Youth Drama Festival Entry now solved – at last!!
At last we have the answer to why the Drama Club’s unbroken run in this well-established event from 1957 onwards, didn’t begin at the first opportunity – which would have been immediately after we were formed in early 1956?
This recently found Guardian Report from March 1957 now confirms that the 1956 event was cancelled because of a lack of entries; but that this year there had been an improvement with three entries in the forthcoming preliminary round. This included 2 from Marsh Street Youth – under whose ‘guise’ we began our involvement!
So, we can now stop searching for something that we now know didn’t happen and record that our long run of several years began in 1957! These, as its pleasing to report, met with a good deal of success, only one duff review and a few really near misses for stardom – such as losing by half a point with ‘Spot the Lady’ in 1963! Our final ‘appearance’ was with the ‘The Wall’ in 1964; which also suffered a very narrow defeat!
Did we know what was going on ‘down stairs’ whilst we were upstairs?
From 1966 onwards it seems likely that our use of the ground floor at Markhouse was limited to just accessing the ‘Iron Stairs’ to our newly and exclusively acquired top floor Youth Theatre; this with little detail of, or interest in, what use was being made in the space below us.
It now seems that this use was both ‘variable and fluid’ and a limited amount of recall lists, at least, periods for a Schools Language Unit, a Special Education Unit, a newly formed Walthamstow Youth Theatre Group (clearly we were never offered this role/title!) and a series of other one off/occasional classes until, eventually, the whole premises was re – designated as the Walthamstow Youth Centre
One other use missing from this modest list has come to light through the ongoing search of the Guardian Newspaper archives as the above report notes the opening of a ‘Boys Club’.
This states that the club would use the gym and offer stamp collecting and ‘other things young boys like to do’ – the latter perhaps more creative activities to be complemented somewhat more pugilistic one confirmed in this subsequent Guardian article!!!
School is Proud of these boys!
This recently found newspaper report shows some well-deserved publicity for the school’s early exam successes via the newly established ‘Extended Year’ initiative.
A further Guardian Report and listing of the school’s early examination results has also been added to the website’s ‘Markhouse School Gallery’ and this covers the results from one of the first ‘Extended Courses’.
This includes the early achievements of several Drama Club Members in the 4th & 5th Year Classes in 1960 – a date when the Royal Society of Arts Examinations were, it seems, used as ‘test run’ for the following year’s GCE’s
And – By some coincidence this latter report mentions Mick Everett who was one of the very first pupils (and original Drama Club member) to ‘stay on’ at Markhouse and was unearthed almost exactly at the same time as this Punch & Judy script revealed itself; this after a further search through the items he had sent shortly after we had made contact with him
If recall is correct, then this version of the famous (and probably now banned) story was very ‘Mick’ – not quite the children’s sea side version – which a further read might confirm – or not!!
Markhouse Closure – A bit of history from 1966!
This photograph from the Walthamstow Guardian shows parents from Markhouse and Gascoinge Schools handing in a petition against the proposed closure of both – but, which as we know, was to little avail!
A further photograph is shown in the Markhouse Website pages with the parents about to lobby the local MP outside the West Walthamstow Labour Party along with an article making the views of the parents known – in no uncertain terms!
We hope, in due course, to find some more information and reports about the closure; in particular, the official Department of Education and Council reasons for this action.
Perhaps for many of us, and particularly so for those who had to change schools, this event and the decisions leading to it, still have a question mark hanging over it – especially as both schools were doing so much pioneering work to improve the opportunities for the many young people who had not passed or sat the earlier 11 plus Examination.
This should be an interesting search – so watch this space – and/or let us know what you can recall of this period
Our ongoing saga, as you may recall from the last Newsletter, of funding a performing arts project with the young people in Tendring/Frinton College’s newly formed After School Drama Group, has finally come to an end. Unfortunately this is not in the way we had hoped in replacing the earlier ‘Pocket Knife’ Project after it suffered an eleventh-hour demise at the start of the Pandemic. It now seems that our link to this college was destined not to be completed and we were sorry to learn from their Head of Drama that they just did not have the capacity to fit a project in – at least not in the foreseeable future!
Sad, but at least our earlier involvement and all the work undertaken with this group of young people up to the cancellation of ‘Pocket Knife’, still gave them a valuable experience. This was in terms of exploring this still current and serious concern and in putting together a play about it – with all the associated experience of script writing, being creative and in taking individual and team work responsibilities – whilst, we hope, also having a great deal of fun!
For us, as for the youngsters, it was still very frustrating but, on the positive side, we did not incur any costs and this means, as noted at the end of this item, that we have the capacity for a further project. This will then be in addition to the forthcoming one which will be:
Our last Newsletter reported that we had received a very positive and encouraging response to our ‘long shot’ of approaching Kelmscott Secondary School in Walthamstow to ask if they might be interested in developing a performing arts project that we would fund – an idea which, if accepted, would have seen the ‘finale’ to this part of our work return to our former stamping grounds!
Our subsequent meeting with the Krystina Lawrance, the Head of Drama, proved fruitful and not without some interesting ‘news’ that not much, if indeed anything, was really known in the locality about Markhouse or its existence – and certainly nothing of our Drama Club that existed within it. Given the time lapse this was really not a surprising revelation, but one that had been well rectified by Krystina who had clearly gone through our website and history – which had very much led to both her own, and the Head Masters interest and enthusiasm for meeting with us
Krystina had obviously taken a good deal of note from the website in terms of what Markhouse, the Drama Club, the CMMF Projects and Mr Malyon’s leadership meant us – so much so that it seemed that the only additional information we could give her was that she could see what remained of our school (excepting our memories) if she felt inclined to take a stroll towards St James Street one lunch break – to inspect the Gates!
Following our visit we have received an outline proposal for a project which is likely to involve about 20 or so of their older pupils in devising their own play. It is intended that this will build on a professional Theatre Company providing a full day’s training workshop at the school; this particularly focusing on ‘mask work’ and ‘physical theatre’ skills – so a new and challenging experience for those who become involved. This will be following up by a series of after school workshops with Krystina and her own staff and those from the schools Music Department.
The project will finish with a performance of the resulting play later in the Autumn with the opportunity for MDC members to attend.
We are now just awaiting the final costings and hopefully, if the overall proposal is all ok with us, we should be able to confirm our funding in time for the work to start within these early weeks of the new term
AND FINALLY – at least in respect of this particular project and having given it a deal more thought since being mentioned in the last Newsletter, the idea of offering to perform ‘Excerpts from the MDC Panto’s 1960/77’ – outdoors in the Kelmscott amphitheatre, now seems just a ‘bit’ optimistic. So, sadly, this will not be offered (or even mentioned) when we next visit the school!
The cancellation of the Project at Tendring/Frinton College means that the one at Kelmscott will not have the particular significance of being our last, as we will now have the capacity to fund at least one more.
So, the usual reminder/encouragement/request about developing a project directly through a former MDC member – which would be an equally great way to finish this part of our work in recognition of all Mr M did for us in our teenage years
Full details about all the CMMF Projects, how they are managed and how you can play the key part in initiating one are is detailed in the Website
Stan’s Farewell after 24 years working for young people!
Former members from four early days will no doubt remember Stan Raynor who was the. Warden of Marsh Street Youth Centre, under whose auspices the Drama Club ran as part of the Council’s Youth Service provision.
Markhouse was very much an ‘annexe’ to Marsh Street and therefore not Stan Raynor’s main or most demanding responsibility; but nevertheless, it was one that he supported and encouraged with a good deal of enthusiasm – albeit mainly from ‘afar’ in the Youth Centre’s office in the High Street!
What was probably not so appreciated at that time was just how instrumental he was in all that happened at Markhouse; both for the Drama Club and the School.
We are well aware of what happened at the Drama Club but in terms of supporting the school, for some now bewildering reason, it was local Youth Centre’s like Marsh Street that were able to run the Royal Society of Arts examinations – an opportunity which Les Smith was able to take full advantage of as a means of giving the school pupils a taste of sitting an external exam – which he thought to be so important before their more formidable GCE’s in the following year
And – in terms of the Drama Club? Well, Mr Malyon’s own words said it all when in writing about the closure of Markhouse as a School, he stated that:
‘Marsh Street and Mr Raynor came to the rescue’
A comment which, no doubt, was referring to the influence that our latter and influential ally had brought too bear to retain and convert the premises to a Youth Centre – with the Drama Club conveniently placed as the sitting tenants. Well, the top floor tenants anyway!
Stan fitted in this increased responsibility with his usual commitment and it was interesting to get some real perspective on this trait when researching the Guardian Newspaper – where almost every weekly edition reported on something happening at Marsh Street!
As well as being such a good social venue in which friends could meet, the programme of activities was outstanding – fashions shows, craft courses, residential trips in this country and abroad, discos, live band concerts, a wide range of team sports and lots of one off and popular activities for its members.
Marsh Street even made fund raising jumble sales into an enjoyable event where some DC members got involved and couldn’t resist the temptation to try to sell more items by impersonating certain High Street traders – e.g..
‘I’m not asking, 5 bob, I’m not asking 3 bob – to you missus – this lovely set of bone china plates – just 2 bob’
MDC members, along with so many other local young people, have much to thank him for and it is good to learn that his contribution to their lives was, as this article shows, publicly acknowledged
AND – Just one of the much more visible positives from Stan Raynor’s intervention was, as shown in this photograph, the outcome of the long awaited opportunity to dismantle, and then rebuild, the school’s original ‘minute’ size stage and turn it into an ‘impressive small size’ one – but much more modern
Plus of course, with the added advantages ) of an upper platform and a new entrance back stage – care of the removal of Agnes Townsend’s former classroom window!
The latter, it is rumoured, happened ‘after hours’ and without Planning Permission!
Unfortunately – the need to obtain and pay for new and larger front curtains was somewhat omitted from the plans!
But fortunately, Mr Raynor, with not too much begging on the part of those responsible, found a few more bob in his coffee jar!!!
In, or near Chelmsford, on the 18th October?
If so, and you fancy catching up with a few friends, then join us at the forthcoming ‘Open’ meeting of the MDC Committee at the Ivy Hill, Best Western Hotel, Writtle Road, Margretting on the above date. The ‘business’ side of the meeting starts at 11.15am (you are welcome to come for this as well – with our guarantee of not being coerced into any work) or join us from 12.15 onwards for the more social bit!
The Hotel lies just off junctions 14 & 15 of the A12 and has a comfortable lounge, light refreshment menu and excellent service – plus ‘free’ Parking – unlike what seems the new charging practice of a growing number of hotels!
No need to ‘book’ – just turn up and surprise us – pleasantly of course!
£££££££££££££ – 2021/2 ANNUAL ACCOUNTS
As some degree of attention has been given to fund raising for the website over the past several months, the MDC Committee decided that we now ought to regularly publish our end of year accounts; both for the website and for the remaining financial assets of the Cyril Malyon Memorial Fund (CMMF) which are now administered by the Markhouse Drama Club. These are as follows for the recently completed financial year of 2021/2:
The CMMF :
BFwd from 2020/1: £1963.96
- Income Nil
- Expenditure (1) Nil
- End of Year Balance CFwd to 2022/3: £1963.96
BFwd from 2020/1 : £200
- Income: Standing Orders & Bank Transfers (2) £156
- Income: Single Donation: £24
- TOTAL INCOME: £180
- Expenditure: Insurance (3): £91.44
- Expenditure: Web Hosting @ Fasthost: £70.56
- Expenditure: SSL Web Security Licence: £30.00
- Expenditure: Website Domain name 2022/7 (4): £73.00
- TOTAL EXPENDITURE £265
Excess of Expenditure over Income: £85
End of Year Balance CFwd to 2022/3: £115 (5)
1: A Grant of £1000 was set aside for a CMMF Project at Tendring College which was cancelled in December 2021 without incurring any expenditure. This leaves sufficient funding for at least 2 new projects in 2022. Of this amount a sum of up to £1000 has been provisionally reserved for a project at Kelmscott School in Walthamstow
2: This amount is comprised of Annual Standing Orders and Bank Transfers each of £12 from MDC Members
3: The annual Insurance Policy covers the copyright and liability insurance for the website along with Public Liability cover for MDC activities such as Re-Unions and Committee Meetings.
4: The website Domain Name cost covers a 5-year period. This represents a saving on future price rises which would be incurred if bought annually
5: The anticipated deficit for 2022/3 is approx. £36. This is based on a committed income of £156 and £192 expenditure projected on the most recent costs for Insurance, Website Hosting & SSL Certification
- We have had our last 2 emails to DAVE KING returned’ as ‘unknown/not delivered address’ etc, and so we have not heard from him of late . We therefore wondered if any members have recently been in contact, or heard from him? Please let us know if you have any news of Dave and/or whether he may have moved from his house in ‘Broadstone’ – Loughton. Thanks!
- Our last Markhouse School Face Book ‘WANTED POSTER’ resulted in contact with the relatives of a couple of former Drama Club members; although, sadly in both cases, neither was still with us. We will be adding a similar poster to the Face Book page shortly so please let us know if there are any former MDC members/friends you would like us to include with the hope of making contact. Either send the names to email@example.com or via the Website Contact page.
- VIDEO EDITING EXPERTISE and/or INTERESTS? The recent loss and recovery of the documentary video of one of our performing arts projects came at a time when there had been some discussion about how best to use and present the several other films that we have – most of which are too long to host directly on the website. One thought is of making a composite video with extracts from all of the projects we have funded. This will involve not only the time in viewing and making decisions about which extracts, but also time and some expertise/acumen for the task of ‘cutting and pasting‘ – for want of an appropriate technical term!
So, a further APPEAL – not for funding the website this time – but for any member(s) who might ‘be up’ for such a creative challenge! If you are then then please get in touch as noted above
Happy Browsing, Regards & Stay Safe – Dave, Denis, John, June, Norma & Peter
WEBSITE ADDITIONS – APRIL 2022
As with earlier additions. those noted below are highlighted in the website with a ‘NEW’ Icon
- 1957: Essex County Youth Festival Report
Images of the Script covers for the following productions have been added for:
- 1960: The Plot Thickens by Mark Langham
- 1972: Speeches & Cream by Richard Tydeman
- 1974: Black Comedy by Peter Schaffer
TRIBUTES to FORMER MEMBERS & SCHOOL STAFF
- This Newsletter’s Tribute to Jane Clarke (Halliday) has been added to this page of the website
- This Newsletter and an extract from the April 2022 Edition has been added to the Website
MARKHOUSE SCHOOL PAGE:
Guardian Newspaper Reports
- ‘School Proud of these boys’
- ‘School Exams Winners’
- Boys Club Opens
- Boxing Club Opens
- ‘Splicing the (Milky) Mainbrace’ – Franks other interest!
- ‘Petition Handover’ re: proposed closure of Markhouse
- ‘Angry Parents hand over Petition’
- ‘Praise for a man devoted to Youth Work’- Stan Raynor’s Farewell
A full Data Bank showing all the currently known productions in which each former member of the Drama Club appeared, or was involved in back stage, is being compiled and this will, in due course, be added to the Website’s Members Page
If you wish to see and download the original version of this Newsletter which difers from the above in terms of layout, you can use the following link: