Archive for September 24, 2009

Vi Godfrey Carr – From Portable Days

September 24, 2009 2 comments

From portable DaysVi Godfrey Carr began her theatrical career as a baby and it almost ended during the Second World War when she lay across an unexploded bomb, in the wreckage of a cinema.  In this fascinating memoir, she recalls life in the Portable and Fit Up theatres – travelling companies which, in the days before cinema and television, took entertainment to the rural areas.

Her mother, a Northumbrian girl with a beautiful voice, ran away to London and married George Austin Knox, member of an old theatrical family. In the 1890’s the Austins started their own Portable Theatre in Durham which they took, with great success, to mining communities all over the North east. As well as acting, troupers had to sing, dance, play instruments, change scenery and care for the horses which provided the transport.

Vi married another popular entertainer, Will Godfrey, and for many years they acted together. During the war, they were with ENSA, the organisation which provided entertainment for the troops, playing while bombs fell in Birmingham and Coventry. Finally, they returned to Ushaw Moor, Co. Durham. She has contributed too many television and radio programmes.

From a book “From portable Days” by Violet Godfrey Carr – A Personal Account of Life in the Theatre as told to Neil McNicholas.

Foreword by Roy Hudd

### Anyone remember the Portable Theatre, hard to imagine with the entertainment of now, this must have been such a thrill for the hard working miners of the time.

I managed to get a copy of this book,,, very interesting,, available on Amazon.

Paul Clough

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Doctors Fees

September 24, 2009 2 comments

Wilf Bells article on Insurance agents in the village and Alf Rothwells reply got me thinking who our Insurance man was and I cannot remember. However I can remember the collector who used to call for our Medical Fees. This was before the founding of the National Health Service in 1948 when medical care became free to all. Prior to that medical care had to be paid for. The man that collected from my home was a Mr. Foster who lived in Hall Avenue. Our doctor was Dr. Dickison whose surgery was in a front room near the top of Arthur Street. He was a great man and always had a cigarette in his mouth, even in the surgery. He wore round 1930s style glasses, a pin striped suit, usually brown and always wore a Homburg style hat. My mother tells me that he visited our house at 29 Harvey Street, New Brancepeth the day I was to be baptised at St. Josephs church at Ushaw Moor. My mother was torn between the names Anthony and Terence and could not make up her mind which name to choose. Dr. Dickison suggested I was named Brian after his son and so I got my name from Dr. Dickisons suggestion.   I am off at a tangent again.   Another caller at our house was Mr. Wilson from Bearpark Colliery.  He was the collecting agent for Doggarts Store which was situated in the Market Place in Durham. I think it is now Boots the Chemists.

I can only remember Doggarts selling clothing but I stand to be corrected.  Mr Wilson was the Dad of Betty Wilson who became a teacher at St. Josephs at the same time as Joyce Quinn arrived at the School.  This must have been in the late forties.  I have gone off at a tangent fron Insurance agents in the village but I hope my memories jog a few more memories and they end up on the Web Site.    Mr Welsh or Dickie Welsh as he was better known was the Council Rent Collector and lived in Whitehouse Court next to Tom Gibb.  Does he jog anyones memory?

Brian Mc.