After a puncture and a slight delay my fellow conventioneers picked me up. They gave me a lift to the Britannia (Airport) Hotel where we spent the weekend attending the 35th Annual UK Convention of 'The Sons of the Desert'
The car was suitably adorned.
I took a few pictures en route.
(Carrutherstown, field near Annan, Lancaster motorway services)
We made good time and arrived early afternoon.
The convention was hosted by the 'Be Big' tent of Manchester in association with the 'Blotto' tent of Tameside.
(A note here that the best number one Laurel and Hardy site on the internet is the host of the above link at The Nutty News Network and on Facebook too.)
A goodie bag at the registration table included beer...................
..................the T shirt.....................
.................and the Programme of Events.
We quickly settled in as had many other tents. That's my Grand Sheik top right.
I took a little look down Northenden before dinner.
The venue for Sunday's activities.
Food in the Britannia was by self service and generally of good wholesome quality.
I was able to pace myself well over the weekend.
The first night's entertainment was provided by Planet Abba..............
.................and they soon had the 'Sons and Daughters' Super Troupering to the Name of the Game with plenty of Dancing Queens.
Apart from a little too much reverberating feedback from amplifier, a great night was had by all.
After an early breakfast I took a short walk up to Wythenshawe Park. I also walked there on Sunday and there'll be pictures of Wythenshawe Hall in part two.
Back at the hotel Sue (organised much of the weekend) showed off a specially prepared cake donated by an enthusiast.
Sue had also begun to work tirelessly collecting for the charity benefiting from the weekend's activities.
Reuben’s Retreat is a charity that was born in memory of Reuben Michael Graham who tragically passed away aged 23 months.
"Our goal is to provide a retreat in the North West of England countryside that will relieve the distress of families and their close friends who have suffered the bereavement of a child or have a child suffering from a life limiting or life threatening illness."
We congregated at the front of the hotel to await our transport for our away day.
One of our two buses.
There's almost a melee to board the classic coach.
It's a 1951 Leyland Royal Tiger and it's illustrious history and rescue from the scrapyard can be read on a P.D.F here at K.R.Walsh Classics
A twenty minute drive and we're here at the Stockport Plaza
A fantastic afternoon included an introduction to the staff and volunteers who've made this a magical venue, a behind the scenes tour and a film show. The feature film was 'The Sons of the Desert', followed by the shorter 'Big Business', 'Any Old Port' and 'The Midnight Patrol'.
The Plaza first opened its doors to the public on 7th October 1932, with a charity show for Stockport Infirmary. The films shown were “Jailbird”, starring Laurel and Hardy, and “Out of the Blue” with Gene Gerrard and Jessie Matthews.
Introductions and a short history.
(The removal of false floors and ceilings from it's period as a bingo hall being a major undertaking)
Behind the stage.
Working Parts !
Heading backstage upstairs.
Possibly Ken Dodd's dressing room.
As a healthy heterosexual teenage male in the 50's I had the lady on the left above on quite a pedestal.
She'll be 78 in a couple of weeks and lives in Hollywood these days. Norma Ann Sykes was better known as Sabrina. There's a dedicated website at The Encyclopaedia Sabrina
I was never as suave and debonair as Leslie Philips, but is there a likeness ?.
Ken Dodd has appeared here more often than any other star.
Stars portraits line the corridors.
Before and after.
The bingo hall and now.
The tour ends on the balcony.
It's a magnificent venue.
After the tour we were treated to tea,coffee and biscuits with a little time before the show to stretch our legs.
I believe the car, a 1935 Austin Berkeley belongs to the cinema manager.
Back inside the Compton Organ is about to vanish into the pit below.
It's a brilliant experience once again watching these on a full size cinema screen.
Again, the eighty plus years old Compton rises for the intermission. There's soon a queue for ices.
After the show I take a walk with a fellow 'Son' around the complex. Originally hewn out of rock if I heard right.
There's another surprise for us as the Belle Vue Coach Hire has sent another old bus for our return.
This one is a former Birmingham Corporation bus, and the top deck is the first to be filled.
I manage to get a few snaps from the top deck.
After dinner, Saturday night is fancy dress, 'sons entertain', (we have some talented people), dancing and a one off show.
It's a party mood.
Our one off show was a cracker.
Read the review of the night at Lucky Dog Theatre Productions.
A conga line develops.
It's a brassy blonde on the end. Nice outfit Sue !
Could it be the ghost of Ollie in our midst ?
I'm led to believe that some revellers stayed up till gone 4am. I'd have been nicely asleep by then.
In part two there's Wythenshawe Park and Hall, Parade of Tents with the GMP brass band and St Wilfreds Tower among other stuff. See you there.