From a tango to Shades of Black

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Remember When? - by Mike Ben­nett mben­nett@thek­m­

OUR pic­tures this week come from the col­lec­tion of Rita Jupp of Bower Road, Mer­sham.

As all who were young more than 60 years ago, she re­mem­bers that peo­ple in those days made their own en­ter­tain­ment, and pro­duced this pic­ture taken in Novem­ber 1952 when, as Rita El­lis, she was in a spec­tac­u­lar pro­duc­tion at Brabourne vil­lage hall.

It was taken dur­ing the fi­nale South Amer­i­can scene in the show staged by Nor­man and Con­nie Weekes who lived in the area.

Mrs Weekes was a pro­fes­sional ac­tress and her hus­band a writer, and among the line-up for the three-night pro­duc­tion for packed audiences she re­calls John Han­son. Ge­orge Hick­mott, Shirley Quested, Va­lerie Heath­field, Pat Thornby, Mrs Wake­field and her own mother.

The pi­anist was Colin Jamieson who later be­came a pro­fes­sional us­ing the stage name Colin Keyes.

Also in the cast was a Mr Ames, who was the son of for­mer Kent and Eng­land cricket star Les­lie Ames.

Fol­low­ing re­cent Re­mem­ber When sto­ries about bands at the old Corn Ex­change in Bank Street, Ash­ford, she also found pic­tures of her late brother Mick Christ­mas, who played with the pop­u­lar Shades of Black band in the 1960s.

She said: “He played pi­ano and some­times gui­tar in the band and I well re­mem­ber iron­ing his or­ange and green stage shirts.

“He lived life to the full and went into cabaret in Mar­gate, but sadly died of bone can­cer aged 25.”

Brabourne vil­lage va­ri­ety show in Novem­ber 1952

Mick Christ­mas and his group prac­tise in a hay barn in the late 1960s

Mick Startup and Mick Christ­mas with Shades of Black in the late 1960s

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