The Bottesford Amateur Operatic Society remembered

Community theatre in the 1920s and 30s

By Neil Fortey

Programme cover from 1929
Cast of The Mikado, 1929
The cast of Pirates of Penzance
The cast of Trial by Jury
Mr Bill Sutton (Snr) as Private Willis of the Grenadier Guards in the 1925 Iolanthe production
Elsie Tinkler (nee Dunsmore) in The Mikado, middle row, 10th from left
Elsie Tinkler (nee Dunsmore) in Pirates of Penzance, middle row, 6th from left.
Membership of the Bottesford Amateur Operatic Society - Iolanthe Programme 1925
1925 Bottesford Amateur Operatic Society Iolanthe cast list

Bottesford boasted an active and ambitious operatic society during the 1920s and 30s. Photographs show the casts made up of local people enthusiastically mounting productions of Gilbert & Sullivan works well supported by local shops and businesses. These pictures are from productions of The Mikado, Pirates of Penzancew and Trial by Jury. Does anyone have pictures or programmes from other productions that were put on?

Janet Peet (nee Tinkler) has contacted us to tell us about her mother’s part in these performances (see Comments, below.) Can anyone else identify the performers in these splendid productions?

This page was added on 24/03/2007.

Comments about this page

  • My Mother, Elsie Tinkler, Nee Dunsmore was a memeber of the operatic society along with her brothers Charles and Henry and Frank Dunsmore. She had a fine soprano voice which she had professional training for. She is on the middle row of the Mikado, 10th from the left and middle row of HMS Pinafore, 6th from the left.

    By Janet Peet Nee Tinkler (14/07/2007)
  • Mrs Ada Bond recalls that the cast of the Mikado included the following people; Miss Richardson; Mr Willocks; Fred Bend (Jnr); Dr. Royle; Miss Whitmore; Mr. Bend (Snr); Iris Taylor; Mrs Briggs (Redmil Post Office); Mrs Samuels (Snr); Miss Firth; Maud Barnes; Madge Taylor; Marjorie Norris; Flo Barnes; Mrs Phillips; E. Dunsmore; E. Tinkler; Mr. Edgar Culpin; Tom Robinson; Mr Bend.

    By Sue Middleton (17/01/2008)
  • Other productions referred to in the 1926 programme for ‘The Pirates of Penzance’:

    1921 – Sherwood’s Queen; 1922 – Pearl the Fisher Maiden; 1923 – Phillida; 1924 – Mikado; 1925 – Iolanthe; 1926 – Pirates of Penzance

    By David Middleton (19/08/2008)
  • My grandfather Constantine Talbot (I believe known as Con for short) told us he sang in the Mikado as (possibly as Nanki poo). He had a lovely tenor voice. If anyone remembers him please let me know. He was in Bottesford in the 20s and 30s. He was the local milkman and coalman.

    By Sheila Pickbourne (10/10/2009)
  • Many thanks for this information concerning your Grandfather’s involvement with the Operatic Society. We will make enquiries and get back with any further details or memories of your Grandfather. if you have any additional information we would be most interested in receiving it. For example are there any details of his address in Bottesford.

    By David Middleton (12/10/2009)
  • Further to my other emails – I have found out that my grandfather lived with his family on Belvoir Avenue in a barn which he converted into a house, with his wife Florence and their three sons John (Jack) /Frank / Dennis. There were also stables which he converted into bungalow. They went to the local school. My grandfather had a milk round using milk from his own cows and a coal round. As far as the Mikado is concerned, is it possible that a well known soprano from Doylie cart (excuse spelling) sang in it? Was there more than one production of the Mikado? If the one shown in your picture is the only one – then I definitely believe that he is one playing Nanki poo.

    By Sheila Pickbourne (12/10/2009)
  • Many thanks. One resident in the village has recalled that someone called Talbot lived in the area of Belvoir Road. We will get back to him with this most helpful further information. The Mikado appears to have been staged twice in the 1920s (1924 and 1929).  Another resident has named many of the people in the 1929 Mikado photograph above but did not mention the name Constantine Talbot and unfortunately does not recall his name. It could be that he was in the 1924 production. We will pass on your update on the Belvoir Avenue details to see if that ties in with any further memories. Programmes from the  1925 production of Iolanthe and the 1926 production of The Pirates of Penzance list a Mr C.W. Talbot as an Honorary Member of The Bottesford Amateur Operatic Society.

    By David Middleton (12/10/2009)
  • Thank you for your additional comments. You say my grandfather was listed as an honory member – what does this mean – are you saying that he performed in the Pirates of Penzance and Iolanthe?

    I have further found out that he offered a taxi service using his horse and trap from a railway station in or near Bottesford.

    The family moved to Bottesford in 1920 and purchased a farm – the house on Belvoir Avenue was a barn on that farm which he converted. He rented half of the house out to tennants. My uncle (Constantines youngest son) is still alive and thinks they left their farm in Bottesford around 1929. It’s more likely, therefore, that he sang in the 1924 production. Although I thought I detected a family resemblance in the face on the front of the programme for 1929, but, perhaps that’s wishful thinking.

    Was there no newspaper report at the time?

    By Sheila Pickbourne (16/10/2009)
  • “Honorary members” are listed separately from the performers. We presume they were the ‘patrons’ of the society. We do not have newspaper clippings to hand but next time next time the Grantham Journal archives are looked at we can examine whether there was any mention of the 1924/29 performances. Your extra details are most helpful. Are there any photographs of the farm? We think it may be some of the old mill buildings on Belvoir Avenue but need to confirm that. We have the entry from the 1928 Kelly’s trade directory for Bottesford. His business is not listed in that.

    By David Middleton (16/10/2009)
  • I can add that C.W. Talbot is not on the cast list of either Iolanthe or the Pirates of Penzance, though he is listed as one of the Honorary Members of the Society in the programmes of both these productions, as Dave has already pointed out. In addition to the 1928 Kelly’s Directory, I have looked at the 1921 edition and confirm that Mr Talbot is not listed there either.

    By Neil Fortey (17/10/2009)
  • We have made further enquiries and two people separately recall Jack and Frank Talbot living on east side Belvoir Road in one of the houses built by Melton Borough Council. We understand that these houses were built in the very late 1920s or early 1930s. Could it be that the family moved from the Belvoir Avenue house to Belvoir Road before leaving the village? They do not recall the name Constantine but as they were children at the time they might not have known his first name.

    By David and Sue Middleton (17/10/2009)
  • We have found an advertisement in the 1925 Iolanthe Programme for: “C. W. Talbot, Dairyman. Milk delivered twice daily. Coal, by truck or ton at lowest prices”. No address given. A copy of the advertisement and the membership list can be seen above.

    By David and Sue Middleton (17/10/2009)
  • Hello

    Thank you for the effort you have taken so far in trying to find out about my family links to Bottesford.
    I am still looking into my family living in Bottesford in the 1920’s and have now found photo’s of the house on Belvoir Avenue and also of possibly the bungalow. These were taken when my Uncle Frank Talbot and my Uncle Dennis Talbot visited Bottesford to see where they used live as children. I will send them to you if you wish, but, obviously don’t think it would be a good idea to put them on the web site in consideration of the people who may live there now (unless the buildings have since been demolished).


    Sheila Pickbourne

    By Sheila Pickbourne (21/11/2009)
  • Thank you – please do forward the photographs it would help confirm which houses on Belvoir Avenue the Talbot family lived in. Please forward to the following email address:

    By David Middleton (21/11/2009)
  • I have recently been informed that pre-WW2 council houses in Muston were built circa 1922 (according to someone who grew up in them, so she ought to know). This makes me think that the houses on Belvoir Road in Bottesford may also be of this age, which is older than I at least had thought they were. I have not been able to substantiate this, but it seems that the Belvoir Road houses may have been built in the early 1920s (“Home for Heroes”) and that therefore Mr Talbot and his family may have lived in one during this decade.

    By Neil Fortey (21/11/2009)
  • I think I live in one of the houses to which Sheila Pickbourne refers – 3, Belvoir Avenue. I was told that it was originally a grain store, which would fit in with the “barn” to which she refers. There are bricked up windows at either end of what is now the loft and our french windows are in what was obviously originally a much larger entrance (for carts?). I would be fascinated to see any old photos of this property.

    By Colin Macdonald (25/08/2010)

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