Memories of City Hall Annex – TAODS

Keith 1 : the annexe was used a lot for different things, including rehearsals for the main shows.  One Saturday evening we had a singing rehearsal in the annexe. There had been a caged bird show in building next door and the birds tried to join n the singing.

Chris : it used to be used for teas for the cast between the matinees and the main evening show. On the last night everyone on the stage would be presented with a gift and during that day families would be coming in with presents which were stored in the annexe until after the final performance had ended.

Keith 1 : we also entertained it to entertain other societies from across Cornwall. We also went to other places.

Keith 2  : when you had a show which was very popular you would open up the annexe as well – there was restricted views but it let more people in.

Joyce : there was a proper bar in the annexe

Memories of Cecil Gill -TAODS

Joyce : My father Cecil Gill , known as “Cec’, did the sound for all TAODS productions for more than 50 years.  He owned an electrical shop in Pydar Street and as well as doing the sound for TAODS, also provided the sound for key events in Truro, such as the Mayor Making and the Fatstock shows via his van with speakers on the top.

Keith 1 : Back then health and safety was not thought off and I remember having to climb up a ladder to the beam at the top of the stage and then having to shuffle on my bottom along the beam dragging electrical cables behind me while Cec was shouting instructions from below. Cec also used to go to the City Hall the night before ticket went on sale to supervise the people who were camping out.

Memories of Queueing for Tickets – TAODS

Joyce : Ann and Jill always used to camp out in front of the hall overnight before a show so they would first in the queue to buy them.   Keith 1 : eventually more people started queuing overnight and one day there was a big queue with dozens of people camping out to get the best tickets. It was a really rough night with wind and rain and they were all getting wet, cold and miserable when the caretaker opened up one of the dressing rooms so they could sleep inside.

Memories of Past Shows – TAODS

Keith 1 : I remember Joyce and Chris taking part in a performance of Kismet.  Along with another girl they were the “three princesses” and came out of baskets and did a dance on the stage.   Joyce – as we were all dressed in the same way the only way people could tell us apart was because “ I was the only one who had boobs”.   Chris : we did Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – that was a real wow – one of the best shows we ever did.   Joyce : we had professional artists such as make up artist Jules Martin and musicians come to help with the shows.  We had our own stewards and front of house people, people who did the wardrobes and worked back stage and a social committee who used to sell the programmes – the women always wore long dresses and the men wore dress suits.  The shows were opened by the Mayor   Keith 1 : It was always recognised that Truro had high standards – when we did Fiddler on the Roof one of the audience said “ I saw the original in London and this knocks it into a cocked hat”   Keith 2 : a man called Les painted the flat for us – he was amazing. One time he did a back cloth of Truro Cathedral which became fluorescent when it was flooded with UV lighting – that got a round of applause in the middle of the show.   Ros : I loved the carolaires – they were such happy times.  Bill White played while the audience was coming in.   Chris : we had some wonderful MD’s – Harry Jordon, known as the ‘lady chaser’, and Hubert who used to banter with a Truro lawyer. They had great rapport with the audience.

Memories of Last Night Antics – TAODS

Keith 2 : We never did anything to damage the show but we did have some fun on the last night At the end of our production of the Sound of Music Johnny Moon went up the mountain with the children. It was an amazing sight. On the last night we put stage weights into his bag to make it heavier.  On another night we were doing a plan in which people had to bring a trunk onto the stage. It was usually empty but on the last night we filled it with concrete blocks and other items from below the stage.   Keith 1 : during the performance of the Vagabond King the rogue has to run away and jump into a vat of red wine.  On the last night the inside of the barrel was lined with holly – he was wearing tights and a short tunic and the language was interesting.  Chris : on one last night Anne was due to be presented with a plate of food during the play – on the last night someone got two pigs eye from the butchers and put them with the food on the plate. When she lifted the lid off the plate she had to try not to laugh.   Joyce : we were a family – back stage / front of house – we were all a family.

Memories of Moving to Redannick Theatre – TAODS

Keith 2 : we miss the City Hall – we had been told that the Hall For Cornwall would be a hall for the whole of Cornwall – but amateur societies cannot afford to use it. We have lost out . Redannick Theatre is much smaller which means we cannot put on the same kind of shows  it is not the same ….. we had some wonderful years and made lots of money for charity.   Joyce : the shows were the highlight of our year and the highlight of the audience’s years – they were happy days and we miss them. The society has gone down to a small number – we have lost our young people. We did everything to the best of our ability – and it is a great shame.

Memories of The City Hall & Hall for Cornwall – The Heart of Things

Before I moved down to Cornwall in 1964, I lived in Honor Oak in London. From the road I lived on, which was on a main bus route, we could see Big Ben – we were right in the heart of things – you could get anything you liked any time you liked. After I left school, I worked at Westminster for a while and then at Worth’s Fashion House. When my husband got a job teaching science at Truro School, we moved to Penelewey, which was – at the time – just a handful of houses, even fewer than there are now. Where we’d have busses running all day in Honor Oak, there was one bus a day now and I thought ‘what one earth have I come to?’ My husband died thirty years ago now and it was after he died that I heard about this place called Hall for Cornwall. It was a new thing for me. It was close and it was affordable. I discovered something there that grabbed me by the heart. One year I went to see something there every week – marine bands, plays, opera, comedy, dancing – anything they had on. The man on the security desk said to me he was thinking about calling Securicor for me, I’d bought that many tickets, and they told me by the end of the year, they thought I’d pretty much bought Row F! I remember seeing one comedy group which was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I laughed so hard it was painful and the man sitting next to me couldn’t stay in his chair he was laughing so much. I remember thinking I need a break from this. It’s strange, I’ve forgotten what they were called now, but I’ll never forget laughing that hard, not ever. It was a change from life, seeing something so different. I was able to feel I was supporting people who were doing creative things while I was doing it. A special place it is, right in the heart of things.

Memories of Billy Onions

Billy Onions had a horse that he used for one purpose and one purpose only and every market day Billy Onions led his horse down Mitchell Hill and tied him to a lamppost smack in the centre of town, right by City Hall. Why’s Billy Onions bring a horse into town when he in’t got nothing to sell? Well, I’ll tell you. That horse’d wait, patient as Job and sometimes a child from the market would take pity on him, bring him out a carrot or two, something to pass the time, until Billy Onions emerged from out back of the Red Lion at the last light of the day. Now the Red Lion to City Hall was just a stagger and a belch and Billy Onions could manage that right enough. He’d pet the horse on the nose, untie him from the lamppost and the horse’d lead him right home.

Memories of Truro at War

When the war ended I was working along River Street. The fire station rang its signal and I threw myself to the ground and I remember thinking how silly I was to have done that. I remember the war well, the incendiary bombs falling all around. My mother rarely let us leave the house, at that time though I remember we went to the Regent Cinema, where they had open grate fires and they ironed the snooker tables before people played on them, and when we were allowed out, we’d head down to find winkles at Newham, boil them and pick them out with a pin.. This one time I remember my mother took us up to the park up at Hendra and we heard a noise and Mum said ‘It’s the Gerries’, so we ran into the public toilets and I remember all the windows smashing, the noise and the chaos of it. Mr Dexter, who was in the AA – you always saluted when you saw him coming – came and collected us and I remember we went up past Fairmantle Street where there was a house of one of my mother’s friends where a bomb had come right down through her sitting room. Sobering it was and I was glad when it was over.

Memories of The First Dance

My husband used to click his heels together when he asked you to dance. He wore spare collars and his shoes always shone and he was handsome as the day was long. I first met him at the Red Lion Hotel at the bottom of Lemon Street. If you had money you’d drink out front, and if you were one of the common people you’d drink out the back, sitting on the barrels – that’s where we’d go. A lot of people didn’t have money in those days, but we had comradeship and we enjoyed that. Everybody was in the same boat. He didn’t know anyone at that time, being German, and he went to the Red Lion to meet people, and though I’d seen him there a couple of times I didn’t know him at all. He asked me if I’d like to go to the City Hall for a dance. I was about eighteen or nineteen, but I told him I’d have to ask my mum. Anyway, I went to a dance with him and it went on from there. He’d gone into the German army at eighteen and he was two years interred on Guernsey before they moved him over to Cornwall. He came over on the boat and he lived in these Nissen Huts up by the hospital and from there they were put out to work on farms. They were taken out in lorries to the different farms and he was taken out to a farm at Comprignay Hill. After the war, he stayed on and moved into a tied cottage behind the big house. There were lions on the gateposts and it was a grand place but when I saw his rooms I thought it was terrible, up these rickety steps and he was living above where the stables used to be. All up one end was his bed and there wasn’t much else there aside from that. When we decided to marry, we had to write to Germany just so they could be sure he had never been married before. We had four sons. There’s not a thing I regret about it. We didn’t have much but we enjoyed what we had, and whenever he asked me to dance with him, he’d click his heels together and it took me right back to when I met first him and that first dance.