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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Sepia Saturday - Dressing Up Is Fun

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories through photographs.

This week's prompt photograph shows a group of "Merrymakers" - perhaps a concert/singing group? The men look as if they are escapees from a role of Redcoats at a Butlin's Holiday Camp in the 1920's/30's. 

I was once in a group called "Melody Makers". We joined High School musical productions sitting at the side of the stage as an additional chorus and we dressed the part i.e. men in checked shirts, jeans & cowboy hats, women in flouncy skirts and fancy headwear for " Calamity Jane". One year I took part in a "Come and Sing" event for "My Fair Lady" where there was a prize for the Best "Ascot" stye hat - but sadly I have no photographs of these occasions.
I have written before about my love of Gilbert & Sullivan and here I am in "Trial by Jury" in the centre of the photograph, head up, singing out to the audience from the "public gallery". The costumes for this performance were recycled from earlier productions, so the pink bridesmaid dresses appeared first in "Ruddigore" and the girls in the gallery wore their costumes from "HMS Pinafore".
Below is a photograph of my mother dressed up - but for what? I have no idea
I first saw this photograph after my mother's death. She is the second figure in from the left - looking very trim and elegant in that boyish costume.

But what are they all  dressed up for?  There was a  clue on the reverse  - no date but the name of  a photographer in Stirling (Scotland). That means it was taken  after 1961 when we moved north from England.  I do know that Mum went  to Stirling to take part in some regional events for the Townswomen's Guild - or was it WRI (Women's Rural Institute) -  and these clearly are all women.  Was it a play?  Mum was never interested in acting and I cannot see her delivering lines in a play. But she enjoyed singing and joined a choir wherever we lived.  So  was it a choral performance?    Italian or Spanish, judging by the costumes?  Is that a bride & groom in the centre with the "priest" alongside. Gilbert & Sullivan's "Gondoliers" came to mind, but there are no gondolier hats.  I shall never know!  

Finally two photographs from the collection of my cousin to show that dressing up is fun, whatever your age - both taken at Blackpool, the famous seaside resort, and the entertainment mecca of the north west of England. 

Lily Beatrice Smith, nee Jones, (1884-1963) attending a fancy dress party at the Palatine Hotel, Blackpool where she worked and where her father-in-law John Ingram Smith was catering manager.

Ella Smith (1906-2003), dressed as a snowball for a fancy dress event at Blackpool.

Click HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday bloggers are entertaining us. 


  1. Lily's dress is a wonderment of ruffles. I wonder if she made it herself? The head gear in the photo of your mother should be a clue but I can't come up with anything? They look like they are having a wonderful time whatever it is. It's always a surprise when mothers of that era stepped out of their traditional roles and surprised us.

  2. How wonderful to have these delightful photos of your mum.

    Shakin' the Family Tree

  3. Such great photos...the snowball outfit is hilarious!

  4. Gilbert & Sullivan - always fun! The photo of your Mom in costume shows a side of her you likely weren't that familiar with. What a treasure to find it. As for all those ruffles on Lily Beatrice's skirt - they reminded me of my Golden Chain Theatre days in Oakhurst when I was dancing with the Grub Gulch Garter Girls & we had to make new Can-Can outfits with row upon row of ruffles on the inside of our skirts so when they were raised, the ruffles would show. What a pain! But they looked great when finished. (all those ruffles also made the skirts weigh a 'ton'!)

  5. Let’s hope someone has the answer; I could only come up with ‘The Bartered Bride’ or your own suggestion of ‘The Gondoliers’. I always like to see photos of our ancestors dressed up, as it reminds us that they too had a sense of fun.

  6. The costumes of your mother's group look rather ethnic ie. European in style, not that that really helps. Good photograph of you singing there!

  7. I love the expression on Lily's face and a very interesting take on dressing up as a snowball!

  8. What fantastic photos and how very frustrating not to know the why and where of your mother's photo. Great that you have at least one of your own, but isn't Lily's costume amazing.

  9. Great photos for this weekend. Having spent some time a few weeks ago working out a similar puzzle of a WW1 POW Camp photo of a theater group, all men, that turned out to be "Trial by Jury", I can appreciate your challenge of musical identification. As you point out in your own production, costumes might have been borrowed from earlier shows unrelated to the cast pictured. I think the principals are all in front, and anytime there is a priest there must be a wedding couple. The women seem more Italianate than Spanish to me.

  10. Thank you to everyone for their very interesting thoughts, particularly on the intriguing photograph of my mother in costume.


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