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Matlock Bath Amateur Players, 1930s
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Flyer for the players' 1934 production. The programme for this is below.

In February 1932 a group of people met at the Women's Conservative Club in Matlock Bath and formed a new organisation, which was to be known as The Matlock Bath Amateur Players Society. As a first step they elected the following officers:- Chairman, Mrs. Jacques; treasurer, Mrs. F. Slawson; secretary Mrs Cyril Boden; producer Mrs J. A. Hazelwood. A fortnight later they announced that they would give two small productions early in April[1].

The following year saw their first annual performance at the Parochial Hall and it was reportedly "a delightful evening". The 1933 programme comprised three sketches, "Quite a Nice Cat", "Such Queer Characters" and "Tyranny and Teacakes"[2]. To perform all three sketches in one evening was quite a feat and some members were in all three.

The cast of "Quite a Nice Cat", which was set in a London boarding house, were:
Ruby Gregory and Edna Lusby (Proprietresses);
Jessie Albinia Hazlewood, M. Boden Pamela Swift and N. Gregory (boarders);
Bernice Hardstaff (parlour maid).
There is at present no image for this production.

Next came "Such Queer Characters", with the scene in a cafe of a large London store. Amongst the cast were Ruby Gregory (supervisor), Bernice Hardstaff (waitress), Pamela Swift and Jessie A. Hazlewood (customers).

The third item in the programme was the "Tyranny and Teacakes" sketch, a "comedy in one act", set in the living room of a Yorkshire Town. The dialogue was written in local dialect.

Cast members were:
Jessie A. Hazlewood (Mrs. Lofthouse);
Bernice Hardstaff (a friend);
Jessie Warburton, Nora Gregory and Ruby Gregory (the three daughters)[2].

They were directed by Mrs. Hazelwood whilst the lighting was undertaken by Mr. Edmonds and the scenery was by Scout H. Clay [sic, F. Clay]; the lighting and scenery were said to have considerably adding to the effect. The New Rhythm Dance Band provided the music; Miss B. Fearn was its pianist.


Not all the cast were mentioned in the March 1933 newspaper review as Vera Hockin, later
Mrs. Arthur Smith, is on the back row, 2nd from left. Although it cannot be confirmed, the
person standing on the right of the back row was perhaps Jessie Warburton; her father was
the manager of Masson Mill. Bernice Hardstaff (back row, 4th from the left) was to marry
Major G. W. Stoddart a short time later.

"Tyranny and Teacakes"

A few days later they performed "Tyranny and Teacakes" again, this time as a fund raiser for the British Legion[3]. In early June Mrs. Hazelewood was directing the group again when they provided the entertainment at the monthly meeting of Matlock Women's Section of the British Legion at All Saints' Institute. They presented a sketch called "Our 'at Home' Day" before which Bernice Hardstaff sang three songs whilst Mrs. Hazlewood gave a monologue[4].

The following year the group presented the three-act comedy/farce "The Whole Town's Talking"[5] at the Grand Pavilion in front of an audience an audience of about 500 people. This proved to be a great success. The action of the took place in the living room[6].

Bernice Stoddart, who had taken a leading part in "The Whole Town's Talking" and was a valued member of the group sailed for Canada in early May 1934 with her husband. Bernice. The couple were given a hand worked tablecloth to mark their departure[7].

The 1934 programme

Front cover

Cast List and the three Acts.

Back cover

On 8 April 1935 the players second annual performance, the comedy "The Lilies of the Field"[8], was held at the Grand Pavilion[9]. It was produced by Mr. P. Orrell, the headmaster of the Matlock Bath Day School. It was possibly the group's final production as Mr. Orrell left the district and a number of cast members had already changed.

Known members of Matlock Bath Amateur Players who also performed in Matlock Operatic Society Productions in the 1930s were: Jessie Hazlewood, Bernice Hardstaff, later Stoddart, P. W. Orrell and E. O. Simms.

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Grand Pavilion (7)

Past Matlock & Matlock Bath photographers

1. Flyer for "The Whole Town's Talking", Published by W. E. Smith & Co., Printers Matlock Bath.
2. Both photographs by Harry Gill. They show him "of Matlock Bath" on the stamp on the back, but this may have related to where his photographic studio was rather than his abode.
3. Programme for "The Whole Town's Talking", Printed by Smiths Printing Works, Bakewell Road, Matlock.
All images provided by and © Bernice Stoddart collection.
Written and researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to information elsewhere on this website):

[1] "Derbyshire Times", 13 and 27 February 1932.

[2] "ibid", 25 March 1933.
"Quite A Nice Cat and Other Sketches" for Women's Institutes, Gil Guides, etc. published 1927.
"Tyranny and Tea-Cakes", by Olive M. Popplewell, was published by H.F.W. Deane & Sons, London, 1931 - Part of the Village Drama Society Plays series.

[3] "ibid.", 1 April 1933. This second performance was held at Matlock Bank Church Institute on Tuesday 28 March.

[4] "ibid.", 3 June 1933.

[5] It was published in London by Samuel French (1925) and had been first published by Longmans, Green and Co, New York (1924)

[6] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 12 April 1934. Amateurs Present Comedy.

[7] "ibid.", 2 May 1934. Players' Presents.

[8] This three act British comedy, by John Hastings Turner, was printed at the Shakespeare Head Press for Basil Blackwell and published in 1923. It was made into a film in 1934.

[9] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 9 April 1935. "Lilies of the Field" at Matlock Bath.