Memories of the City Hall – TAODS

Joyce : when I joined TAODS there as a waiting list to be a dancer.  They only had 12 dancers and you had to be over 16.  I was 15 when I joined and had just turned 16 when the show was staged in September.  We loved performing in City Hall. Our shows were very popular, especially our plays and the carolaire where there was always a great atmosphere. We also used it for other events – one year we were staging Carousel and held an Autumn Fair in the Hall . We managed to get hold of a proper carousel and put it in the hall for the fair – we made a lot of money that year.   Keith 2 : I joined TAODS because I wanted to chat up Joyce who was already a member there.   Keith 2 : the guttering was inside the back of the building. When it rained you could hear the water running along back stage.  There was also a metal bar at the top of the stage area to keep the pigeons out – they made a lot of noise and you could hear them when the performances were taking place.   Chris : there was always dancing at City Hall – there was a different band every Saturday night and famous people like Victor Sylvester came to Truro.   Joyce : there were also professional pantomimes at City Hall – one year Alan Gale staged a panto.  Keith 2 : when I was stage manager I had a crew of about 9 or 10 people . They were a wonderful team. We sometimes had up to 22 back cloths for a show which had to be changed. We built a gantry and had women up there who would lower down the cloths. It was a hectic time but a great time.   Keith 1 : there was a corridor at the back of the stage which had a cast iron stair case.  When I was the call boy I used to go down the stairs whistling and singing to let people know I was coming as it was a very popular place for a quick snog.

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 Courting at City Hall

I was sixteen in 1958. It was a good time to be sixteen. I was a telephonist for BT and we held our annual dances in City Hall. There were crowds of young people and we danced the night away, the lot of us. They decked the whole place out with balloons and paper decorations and laid chairs down both sides of the hall. The girls would come in and take a seat and if you were lucky, a handsome man would come over and ask you to dance. If it was someone you weren’t keen on, all of a sudden you’d look down at the floor and get very interested in your shoes. It was grand being asked to dance, but the best part of the evening was the ‘ladies’ excuse me’, which gave you the chance of a lifetime. You could tap any man on the shoulder, even if he was dancing with someone else and ask him to dance. There was no point in being a wallflower, you had to grab the opportunity while you had it. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, take your places for a quickstep.’ They had a dance band, The Clavitones, who played all sorts, from waltzes, military two-step to the Gay Gordons and the hokey cokey. Bob Williams, the chemist, used to play saxaphone with them. The slow dances were my favourite, though. You’d eye someone across the room and wink at them and they’d come over and you’d dance with their arm around you and it felt wonderful. Everyone got a bit more forward as the evening went on. At some point you might go outside with them for a kiss and a cuddle. The dances finished about ten thirty. It was nothing like going home at two in the morning like you might do today. It was a lot tamer than that. If you met someone and they wanted to take you home, you’d wonder if they would hold your hands or your arm might brush their arm, which was everything. If it went really well, you might get a kiss at the gate. Of course, I lived with my parents back then and my dad would wait up until I got back. We had a dog and he’d use the dog as an excuse to stay out in the garden when he was expecting me back, which was his way of saying ‘Come on in now, Josie’. I remember at one dance this gorgeous man came in through the door of City Hall and later in the evening, when he asked me if I wanted to dance, I said ‘do I?’ Our first dance was a quickstep. He was tall, and handsome too. We courted for three years before I married him. We went to lots of dances at City Hall in that time, and to the cinema too at The Regent. I remember he took me to see The Summer Place – even now when I hear the songs it takes me right back there. I remember being in there in the dark of the cinema and his knee touched mine – talk about the vapours. We married at Chasewater and had a reception in the village, bought a cottage at Greenbottom and we had our twins there twelve months later. When you’ve had a good marriage and you met your man at a dance, you’ve had what lots of people would love to have. You can’t imagine anything better. But that’s me, I’m an old romantic.

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.