WARTIME CONCERTS AT CHESTER CINEMAS.
BY DAVID A ELLIS
On December the 17th 1939 famous London stars took to the stage of the Regal.Proceeds were used to provide Christmas gifts and comforts for men of the National Defence Corps, serving in the area. A Lea Seidl, a celebrated singer of the White Horse Inn fame topped the bill. During WW2 cinemas and theatres up and down the UK did their bit for the war effort.
There were many charity concerts staged, with some of the big stars of the day. In Chester several Sunday concerts were held. In 1940 the famous comedian Robb Wilton appeared at the ABC Regal cinema. This was in aid of the British Red Cross Society and the St John Ambulance Brigade Joint War Organisation.
On March the 3rd 1940, the Regal played host to stars of the day Tessie O’Shea and Jack Train. Proceeds went to the Cheshire Regiment and R.A.SC Comforts Fund. There was a turn by two Chester boys a Richard Bullock and Jimmy Parry. In 1941 the Western Command Army Entertainments Officer organised what was called a super concert at the Chester Odeon. This took place on Sunday the 9th March. It was referred to as one of “The Good Neighbour” efforts organised by the Western Command, which was in Queens Park. The profits from the show were devoted to the Stage and Variety Artistes’ charitable institutions.The show was a thank you from the army for the splendid work that was done for the troops by the theatrical profession. A first class programme was arranged and on the bill were radio favourites Elsie and Doris Waters, known as Gert and Daisy.
Jack McCormick and his broadcasting band appeared at the Gaumont on January the 21St 1940. A Mr Harold Thiems played the Compton organ. The Gaumont staged a concert on Sunday the 26th January 1941 in aid of soldiers, sailors and Air Force Dependents Association of the local committee, for which Lady Gordon Finlayson was president. The principle item on the programme was Wee Georgie Wood, a comedian. He related his days as a Music Hall star. The programmes was opened by a military band.
David A Ellis © chestercinemas.co.uk
My husband John was working at the Gaumont as a projectionist, he said it was a change to be working on the lights and as a stage hand for Rose Marie on ice. My sister Marian worked there and dated one of the Mounties.