Scottish Music Hall & Variety Theatre Society

The glorious days of Scottish Music Hall and Variety Theatre

 


An all Star Cast and Theatre staff singing "Auld Lang Syne"as they say Goodbye on the night of the Last show at the Glasgow Empire on Sunday March 31st 1963.

 

 

 

"The Glorious days of Scottish Music Hall and Variety Theatre".  

Founded Portobello 1979

2019 - Celebrating 40 Years

Incorporating The Sir Harry Lauder Society

Hon. President: Mr Johnny Beattie.   Hon. Vice President: Mrs Mary Lee Milroy.

Hon. Members

Patron: Lord James Douglas Hamilton

Mrs Mary Lee Milroy: Mr Iain Gordon: Mr Johnny Beattie M.B.E: Mrs Middy Coburn: Mrs Betty Clarkson: Mr Robert Bain and Mrs Eleanor Bain: Mr Gordon Irving: Joe & Sally Logan:

Past Hon. Members: Ms Anne Fields: Mr Ronnie Coburn M.B.E: Mrs Angela Logan: Mrs Myra Gilroy

©2005 - 2019 Copyright SMHVTS.   Copyright Scottish Music Hall & Variety Theatre Society. No part of this website must be reproduced without permission.  

 

Society Message WINTER 2019

THIS SITE WAS UPDATED: FRIDAY 10 JANUARY 2020:  Society Message: NEXT UPDATE SOON. 

 

Click here to view our latest Forthcoming Attractions.  Annual Glasgow Lunch - April 2020.

 

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

It is with great sadness that I have to inform all our members and friends of the passing of our Hon Secretary and dear friend Mr Bob Bain after a long brave battle with illness.  I know that at this time you will all have Bob’s family very much in your thoughts and we do send the Deepest Sympathies to Eleanor and all the family at this very sad time.

Bob was the main stalwart of our Society and will be greatly missed by all the Committee and members of the Society.  From Bob joining the Society in 1993 and becoming Secretary in 1995 his wealth of knowledge on the Scottish Variety Theatre was truly an asset to our cause.

Obituary: Bob Bain, variety and music hall champion and archivist

HERALD 11 December 2020

By Neil Cooper

Variety and  music hall champion and archivist

Born: April 1, 1938;

Died: December 2, 2019

BOB Bain, who has died aged 81, was a tireless champion and archivist of Scotland’s variety and music hall culture, sharing his exhaustive knowledge of the era with passion, charm and a twinkle in his eye to anyone who listened. Bain’s own extensive collection of memorabilia was a vast in-road to a bygone age which he helped bring back to life as an oral historian, tirelessly giving talks and showing films on the subject.

Bob Bain was born in the Gorbals, Glasgow, and developed an interest in the theatre from an early age after his parents took him to what would become one of his favourite venues, the old Metropole in Stockwell Street, Glasgow.

“I still remember walking in,” he told the Evening Times in 2018, “I must have been seven or eight years old, and seeing the roaring fire and the old couches where you’d sit and wait until it started. Ever since, I have loved the theatre.”

Bain’s parents died within a few months of each other when he was 20, and he moved to London shortly after, staying for four years. On his return to Glasgow, he became a patent glazier, working on installing roofing windows before he was forced to take early retirement after 20 years due to a back injury.

It was then that his interest in theatre blossomed into a passion after he inherited a box of memorabilia from his wife’s Eleanor’s grandfather, who had performed around the country in a hand-balancing act called the Norman Brothers. From this, Bain developed his own collection of flyers and programmes, tracking down former variety and music hall stars through Equity to ask for help.

Treasured items include a poster advertising Liberace’s appearance at Glasgow Empire, a fake leg owned by 1960s dance troupe the May Moxon Girls Act used for a three-legged dance and a set of bagpipes once played by Billy Crockett for an act that involved a second set that would spray water on the audience.

Bain also became the stage-door keeper at the Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow, and, crucially, joined the Scottish Music Hall Society. Bain became secretary of the society, a role which became much more than a hobby, but was his life.

Bain’s fantastic memory, combined with an unbridled enthusiasm, saw him liaise with numerous institutions to mount talks and exhibitions of variety and music hall material. This resulted in presentations at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Auld Kirk Museum, Kelvingrove Art Galleries, Motherwell Heritage Centre, Summerlee Industrial Muse, the Mitchell Library in Glasgow and Rothesay Pavilion as part of Bute live.

Along with Society Chair Derek Green, and membership secretary Bill Green, Bain would tour church halls, guilds and community centres to give presentations on variety theatre in Glasgow.

Bain also organised speakers to give talks for society members and organised the society’s annual lunch in Glasgow, at which a Scottish celebrity would receive an award for their service to Scottish entertainment. For many years Bain was editor of the Stagedoor Magazine, the society’s quarterly journal, and, in interviews on TV and radio, became the public face and voice of the society. Bain’s particular passion was for the Glasgow Empire, and he made this his personal project, researching many of the hundreds of acts that appeared there, and travelling the country with a talk on it which he devised himself.

During his tenure as secretary, Bain’s dynamism and enthusiasm made him instrumental in the society widening its reach to include variety theatre alongside music hall. The end result of this came in 2003, when the organisation’s name was changed to the Scottish Music Hall and Variety Theatre Society, the alliance creating a fitting double act of near neighbours as it did so. In 2011, Bain received a lifetime achievement award for his services to the society

Away from the society, Bain and Eleanor settled in Auchinloch, North Lanarkshire, where he spent time with his family.

Latterly, Bain attended events and performances presented under the banner of An Audience With….., a project by choreographer Janice Parker that brings together dancers from the golden age of variety at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, formerly the Empire. Parker was introduced to Bain by some of the dancers of An Audience With…, whose ranks include Betty Clarkson of the Clarkson and Leslie dance duo and former Moxon Girl June Don Murray. Bain’s encyclopaedic knowledge and passion for keeping such a vital part of grassroots culture and history alive made a big impression on the group, who themselves are a part of living history.

Bain spoke of the need for a Scottish entertainment museum, dedicated, not just to variety and music hall, but to theatre, dance, big bands and buskers.

“Lots of theatres and institutions have their own archives,” he told the Evening Times, “so there’s plenty of stuff, but it’s all over the place. A museum would bring it all together.”

Bain may never have set foot on a stage as a performer himself, but in his evangelical zeal to keep the music hall and variety flame alive, he remained a star turn in his own right.

Bain is survived by his wife Eleanor, his daughter Barbara, his step sons Roddy and Stuart and his grandson Josh.

NEIL COOPER

 

JOIN THE SMHVTS NOW

The Winter 2019 Edition of the STAGEDOOR Magazine will be sent to all our members shortly.  The STAGEDOOR is received quarterly as part of your Society Membership.  If you would like to receive this magazine, please print off your application for membership which can be found here www.freewebs.com/scottishmusichallsociety/membershipform.htm and send to our Chairman Derek Green at the address on the form.

 


NEWS UPDATE


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 PLEASE NOTE.
 IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT. 

Due to changes within the Banking Systems.  It is now a requirement that all cheques must be made payable to the SCOTTISH MUSIC HALL SOCIETY only.  We cannot accept any abbreviation of the title of our Society.
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 24 OCTOBER 2019.  An update to the Website will be done soon.  
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3. NEWS UPDATE 30/01/2010 

The Scottish Music Hall & Variety Theatre Society has now joined  

Over the next few weeks, info will be added to our facebook page.

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Join now

Why not join the SMHVTS today

Please click here for our membership form.

Membership Rates £12.00 uk & £14.00 overseas.

£18.00 Joint Membership

Please print off a copy of the Membership Form and fill in all the details. Please make your cheque payable to SCOTTISH MUSIC HALL SOCIETYand send with form to:-

DEREK GREEN

Chairman

26 Ronaldsay Place, Ravenswood, Cumbernauld, Glasgow,G67 1NP


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