Historic season at stunning resort venue

Tessie O'Shea painting in the garden "Rose Cottage" her home in Poulton, in 1945
Tessie O'Shea painting in the garden "Rose Cottage" her home in Poulton, in 1945
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This week on the telly I heard yet another broadcaster refer to “the Blackpool pier.”

Oh yeah. Which pier was that?

Eve Boswell

Eve Boswell

Hadn’t this media person noticed there are three such structures sticking out into the Irish Sea? Nope!

One has to wonder in this glance down memory lane how the resort will be presenting its assets 50 years from now.

Already there seems to be a reluctance by the Winter Gardens management to avoid using the name Opera House on posters.

The latest example is next week’s visit of Cirque Berserk, with posters displaying a large logo of the Winter Gardens. Yes, we know the Opera House is in the Gardens, but it is Britain’s largest provincial theatre and a beautiful example of Art Deco.

Any other town with a theatre of this quality would be presenting it by name. Bigtime!

But back now to Memory Lane’s look at Opera House seasons of the late 40s and the 50s, when the resort was packed with visitors coming by train and motor coach.

It was a “captive audience” for the town’s theatres.

The show with 700,000 patrons happened at the Opera House in 1948, when Tower chairman Mr H Douglas Bickerstaffe said the company’s future would be decided by the number of summer season visitors.

Here’s what the visitors saw at the Opera House, in the biggest and best of the resort’s stage shows.

The theatre’s season shows from 1948 to 1968 were produced by George and Alfred Black.

The seasons 48-59, listed here, all featured the Tiller Girls among big supporting casts.

1948: Sky High starred Charlie Chester and his gang from radio’s hit comedy series, Stand Easy.

1949: Midsummer Madness with Charlie Chester and Company plus American mime act George and Bert Bernard.

1950: Tessie O’Shea (pictured) and Nat Jackley in Out of This World, with Terry-Thomas.

1951: Vera Lynn in Happy Go Lucky, with George and Bert Bernard, Harry Secombe, Jack Radcliffe.

1952: Lester Ferguson and Terry-Thomas in Top of the Town, with Sempini and Harry Bailey.

1953: Les Compagnons de la Chanson (famous for The Jimmy Brown Song) in The Show of Shows, with Harry Secombe, Harry Bailey, Eve Boswell.

1954: Jimmy Edwards and Tony Hancock in Talk of the Town, with Joan Turner.

From 1955 the summer season production was called The Big Show.

1955: Jimmy Jewel & Ben Warriss and Alma Cogan.

1956: George & Bert Bernard, Eve Boswell (pictured), Freddie Frinton.

1957: Jimmy Jewel & Ben Warriss and Yana.

1958: David Whitfield, Arthur Haynes and Company, Grace O’Connor.

1959: Jimmy Jewel & Ben Warriss and Jill Day.

• Have you any interesting memories of those shows?

Let Memory Lane know. Write to Emma Harris at The Gazette, Avroe House, Avroe Crescent, Blackpool FY4 2DP. Email emma.harris@jpress.co.uk