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Page 5. Letters to the Editor

Trusted Scribe

Nick Balmer, Rickmansworth, UK
Sharon Dilley, UK
Yannis Lambrou, Lesbos, Greece
David Lovell, UK
Brett Payne, New Zealand
Margaret Sheridan, South Clifton UK
Mike Smith, UK
Ann Upton, UK


I came across your website and the account of the G&S productions by the Leicester Amateurs. I am now 88 and have very fond memories of the Leicester Amateurs and George Cook. My mother was Louie Hill who took the part of Josephine in Pinafore. She is Yum Yum alongside George in your photograph of The Mikado. She died a few years back aged 99. In her later career with the Amateurs she took leading roles in most of G&S productions. However she and George had a much wider range than just G&S and she led in such productions as The Vagabond King, The Desert Song and Monsieur Beaucaire.

Pre war I loved going back-stage at rehearsals and mixing with the 'stars' on the first nights and last night. Mum and dad would come home laden with presentation bouquets and chocolates. I well remember Messrs. Green, Cook and Taylor. Very heady stiff for a young boy. I also remember George Cook in retirement when he took over the Birstall Post Office and general store in our village and my mother and I would often see and chat to him.

Regards, Mike Smith, UK
(January 23rd 2013
Updated: September 17th 2015)


A friend of mine directed me to your webpages about your grandfather's activities in the Leicester Amateur Music & Dramatic Society in the 1920s. As a keen G&S collector, performer and Leicester resident, I was fascinated by your article. Having rooted through my collection (which includes a number of local amateur programmes), I came across the very 1922 Trial by Jury/HMS Pinafore programme with your grandfather as Ralph Rackstraw, and I've attached a scan of it for you.

It was great to see the entire 1904 Mikado programme as I have most of the postcards which were issued at the time, as well as others for Merrie England (1905), Utopia Ltd (1908) and The Mountebanks (1910). I do have a programme for the 1903 production of Patience which is equally well-photographed. I also have in the collection a 1929 Gondoliers programme, however, George Cook does not figure in it.

It's all wonderfully distracting.

David Lovell. Leicester, UK
(November 5th 2007)

The programme can be found at: HMS Pinafore / Trial By Jury 1922


Ann Upton

Ann Upton

Thank you so much for all the information you sent. I was extremely impressed by your web site. You may have inspired me to get on with my own tree - I will certainly sit and complete the tree for my Mums generation for you so you can see what has happened to the ten Naylors born to John George Calladine.

I have just telephoned my Mum Ivy who is now 79 and she can't really remember her Grandfather Edwin. She never met his brothers or sisters but remembers Edwin dying at Wilmot Street in Ilkeston. This family definitely originated in the South Normanton / Somercotes area. She also remembers there being twins born in the family (Grandfather Edwin probably). She particularly remembers Lancelot because her Mum used to laugh at the unusual name! It must have been my Grandma 'Kate' married to John George Calladine that told my Mum 'Ivy' about the twins - she certainly knew that twins had died in the family.

She recalls an aunt of hers, Marjorie Ann going to Canada when she was a young girl (mum that is) so we estimate it could have been during the 1930's. The only information she can remember is that she was a Jehovah's Witness. She thinks she may have married in later life but doubts if there was any children (this is not confirmed though).

By the way my brothers name is Allan as you probably notice - Mum seems to think families at that time did call their children after older relatives so it will be interesting to look at your tree to see if any names match. My uncle Jack is looking at his family tree too. I will try and contact him to see if he has found his Grandfathers sisters or brothers.

Anne Upton, UK (Added May 31st 2006)


While it is possible that we might be distantly related, I have no Rutland ancestors as such. Mine were very mobile going back for four hundred years or more getting to India, America, Singapore, Lancashire and Somerset. The curious thing is that I was brought up in Lyddington in Rutland just a mile or so from both Gretton and Caldecott so I know the area you write about very well.

My grandfather Reginald Hancock was brought up in Uxbridge, before moving to Beaconfield in the 1920s as the fields and farms around Uxbridge and Heathrow went under houses. He came in old age to Lyddington where he died in 1969. My father still lives in Lyddington, but has reached a point in his life where he will have to leave his home as he is too frail to live on his own.

When I was a child in Lyddington I remember quite clearly a little old lady called Miss Brewster. She was one of those little old ladies who used to inhabit the World I was brought up in. They were incredibly self reliant and struggled in with very little money and in cottages that were really almost 18th century in technology. I think she used to bicycle to Uppingham.

I have spent a great deal of time in the Bede House and the White Hart. When I was an early teenager the Ministry of Works started out restoring the building. It was very dilapidated and danger by then. There were three elderly men who were very good craftsmen, one was called Wilf Wright, I cannot remember the others, but I used to visit them and "help" them, before going off to explore the really dangerous attics. I believe that the last old person lived in the Bede House in about 1935.

The White Hart I knew very well, and spent a great deal of time there 25 or more years ago. It is still a good pub and Holly the Land Lady has been very good to my father. It was a great village local, and has changed into a gastro pub. It was probably inevitable, but I cannot help regret the community that used to meet in the bar. They have recently changed the inside again and it is hardly recognizable to the place I used to go.

Nick Balmer. Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, UK
(May 30th 2012)


Margaret Sheridan

Margaret Sheridan

With reference to set c -unidentified photos No.1, as soon as I saw this photo I knew I had seen it before and I believe I have an original also. I have searched high and low believing that it and a whole set of others had been packed away when we moved here. However I now believe that I lent them to my eldest sister to have copied and she never returned them. She has now promised to post them to me.

I believe that the photo shows Lillian Aline (the oldest daughter of Edwin and Elizabeth) Roy Eric Alan, Claire Louisa, and that the baby is John George Calladine. If one remembers that the second, third and fourth children of Edwin and Elizabeth died in infancy then there is a gap of 5 years,7 years and 9 years between these children. I would estimate that John is about 7 months old which would date the photo to April 1896.

The fact that this photo was in my mothers collection and Miriams indicates to me that there must have been some comunications between the families, which I think is rather nice. I look forward to getting "my" photos back and maybe some more pieces of the jigsaw will unfold.

Margaret Sheridan, South Clifton
(June 21st 2006)


Yannis Lambrou

Yannis Lambrou

Your review of Sullivan's "The Grand Duke" made me buy the CD, which I enjoyed very much. But the reason why I bought "The Grand Duke" was something other than music. You see, I am the owner of the only winery on the Greek island of Lesbos. We have revived an ancient red grape variety from which our organic wine is made, which is probably the one that produced the renowned ancient wine that Sullivan's song refers to. Plus our vinyard is located in the crater of the volcano which once formed the Petrified Forest of Lesbos, hence the wine's strong minerality. As well as the classic red variety we have recently introduced a white wine (a "blanc de noirs") made from these grapes. These particularities make our wine, called "Methymneos", 100% Lesbian.

Maybe you could slightly change your review of Sullivan's work, where you suggested that no wine is made on the island of Lesbos today. Thank you and all the best,

Yannis Lambrou (Producer of Methymneos),
Lesbos, Greece.

Methymneos Winery
(January 27th 2008)


Uncle Clarrie (Clarence Wych, b. April 1892) was my great uncle on my mother's side of the family. Auntie Ruby (Ruby Naylor, b. June 1891) and Uncle Clarrie ran a laundry in Leicester and my mum used to go and stay with them when she was a little girl.

My grandfather, John Wych, was a headteacher at Buerton primary School. Funnily enough, my mother and her sister were both teachers and I am a primary head like Grandad. I have almost no family memorabilia, unfortunately. My aunt who lives in America has most of the Wych things, I think. We lost contact when I was very young.Thank you so much for the group photograph! I can confirm it is definitely Uncle Clarrie - I don't ever remember meeting him but the likeness to my grandfather is unmistakeable.

Sharon Dilley, Merseyside UK (May 26th 2006)


Brett Payne

Brett Payne

Thank you very much for your email, and for the scans of the photographs of your maternal grandmother's family. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to see them, and wonder whether you would kindly consent to my using them examples of the photographers' work on my web site in due course, please? I would be very happy to give my estimates of when each photograph was taken, where I am able. Although my web site only covers studios from Derbyshire at present, Photographers & Photographic Studios in Derbyshire, England I am interested in photographers from Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire too, and it is only a lack of time that has prevented me from including them on the site. Your mention of Frank Day of Heanor is particularly interesting, as I don't have any examples of this artist's work yet, and it would therefore make a valuable addition to the site. The Seaman & Sons and other photos would also be of interest.

The larger cabinet card is a very nicely posed one, and is still very clear and unfaded. I agree with your estimate (from your web site) that it was taken in around 1897, plus or minus a year or two, giving a range of perhaps 1895-1899. The children have some interesting clothes, which supports these dates, although it's always very difficult with childrens' clothes. It's a pity that my own example of an A & G Taylor cabinet card at West End Chambers, Chapel Bar, Nottingham with this design on the reverse does not have a negative number, or we could compare it with yours.

The two smaller cartes de visite, despite having the Sheffield address indicated as the main studio on the reverse, may still have been taken in Nottingham. I believe that the Nottingham, Sheffield and Derby studios (as well as branches in Leeds, Goole and Barnsley) were all part-owned and managed by William Middleton, and card stock may be been transferred between studios in times of shortage.

I have a photo of my own great-grandfather, who lived in the Derby suburb of Normanton, on card stock imprinted with the Leeds studio's address, although I'm fairly certain that it was actually taken in their Normanton garden, and that they had no known connections with Leeds. As with the cabinet card examples of this design from 57 London Street, Derby under my A & G Taylor profile, I believe that they must have been taken in the mid-1880s, perhaps between 1884 and 1887.

I have done some research of the firm of J Byron & Son of Nottingham. They are an interesting lot - a son emigrated to New York, where he became a very famous photographer, both of New York scenes, and of the "rich and famous." Their surname was actually CLAYTON, by the way, James Byron Clayton using his middle name to distinguish himself from other members of the family! If your photo of John and Ann NAYLOR is a larger cabinet card - and it looks to be from the scan on your web page - then it would date from the mid-to late 1880s. A more detailed scan, including the mount and the reverse, would make it a little easier.

The photo which you have included on the web page in Set A as "The Naylor Family - 1873" is of particular interest to me also, due to the non-studio setting. I wonder whether there is a photographer's imprint on the mount, either on the front or reverse? It may well be that it was taken by a travelling photographer, some of whom accompanied fairs and "travelling showgrounds."

The set of photos taken at the front porch on at least two occasions is also interesting, and it would be nice if the location and dates could be identified with more certainty. Miriam's dress looks two or three years more modern than Mary's, which would fit with the extra growth of vegetation on the trellis.

By the way, I'm very impressed with your web site. It's well laid out, easy to read, and very interesting. I particularly like your use of images to illustrate the articles, and the fact that you reference the work properly! I have been eyeing out the TNG software for some time - it certainly seems to be the best one available.

Brett Payne, Tauranga, New Zealand
(June 12th 2006)

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email If you would like to comment on any of the articles we have published in the magazine or would like to add your own thoughts and reminiscences of any of the subjects, please send them to us with a note to say that you are happy for your letter to appear on this page. Do Get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

Alan D. Craxford - Site Administrator

Page added: May 20th 2006
Last updated: September 17th 2015

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