ACTON Amateur Operatic Society (AOS) has been
entertaining local operetta fans for 90 years (in February 2010).
Despite their name placing them in the village a couple of miles from
Nantwich - and the fact that they rehearse in the village hall - I have
always thought of them as a Nantwich society.
True, they hire the Lyceum Theatre,
Crewe, for their lavish productions and a scan of the membership list would
possibly put members as coming from many places as well as Nantwich.
They were the second amateur
society that I worked backstage for (after Nantwich Players) recruited
through my membership of the amateur dramatics group.
The AOS marked their 90th
anniversary with an evening of nostalgia, performed on two evenings, recalling their past music.
(Read more on www.acton-aos.co.uk).
The longest serving current member
is Peter Usher, now their President, who - with his wife, Eva - helped
Nantwich historian Andrew Lamberton to
name the members in the three pictures on this page. Andrew sent me the
pictures which belonged
to his mother.
VERONIQUE (1951) Nantwich Civic Hall (top of page).
Back row: Harry Simpson, Brian Boyer, Eric Holland,
Ken Hockenhull, Phyllis Lamberton, Peter Usher, Louise Bedson, Marjorie Geoghan,
Len Boyer, Winnie Hiscock, Sid Simpson (Harry's father), Roy Hughes, Tom Wright
and Lewis Goodrich.
Front row: Madeline Basford, Betty Swindells, Barbara Davies, Edie
Capper, Moira Blakemore, Marion Day, Ada Darlington, Alma Sutton, Freda Gregory, unknown
Annie Climo, Alice Bourne, Marie Boffey and Eva Usher.
PIRATES OF PENZANCE (c1950)
Emmie Farrington, Jack Bratby, Phyllis Lamberton,
Wilf Blud, Annie Climo, Sid Simpson, Gladys Boyer, Len Boyer, Frances
Thompson and Peter Usher.
PENLEY POLISH CAMP (c 1952)
Back row: Gladys Lyon, Phyllis Lamberton, unknown
man, Winnie Hiscock, Mr Chechevski, David Lloyd, Gladys Schofield, Fred Rowley, Len
Leggett and Dorothy Halliday.
Front row: Barbara Davies, Alma Sutton, unknown man and
WHEN the Veronique picture was first posted it was a
version that had been cropped in the copying process and as a result some of
the singers had been lost. Only half of the man on the extreme right
of the back row originally appeared and so he couldn't be identified.
Andrew later obtained another copy
of the photograph which, although damaged, showed all the cast. (The damage
has been edited out here). He also received an e-mail from the mystery man.
Lewis Goodrich sent this message to
Andrew: "Browsing through A Dabber's Nantwich, I noticed
the picture of Acton Amateur Operatic Society's 1951 production of
"Veronique" and read that the man on the extreme right couldn't be identified. That guy was, in fact, me . . . a
17-year-old youth appearing in my first show as a member of the society. I
also have the original photo. My wife and I are still involved with the
society, as non-acting members."
And he had a further point of
interest to divulge: "On another tack altogether, you may well know that the virtuoso
pianist and composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886) is said to have stayed the
night at the Crown Hotel en route to a concert in Chester. He was
presumably travelling by coach and horses."
Lewis later identified the lady on
the extreme left of the front row as Madeline Basford.
Unfortunately, we still don't know
the name of the lady fifth from the right on the front row.
"Lewis, Many thanks for your e-mail. I didn't
realise that you were in the cast in Acton A.O.S. as I remember you better
as a fellow musician in the orchestra with the society. I was also
interested to learn about the connection with Franz Liszt and the Crown