Public Entertainments in Malvern

The bandstand in Priory Park, Malvern in the 1930s
The bandstand in Priory Park, Malvern in the 1930s

Malvern became famous for its Festival Theatre seasons which began in 1929.  These attracted large numbers of well-to-do visitors from all over the country.  They gathered annually to enjoy George Bernard Shaw’s plays and other Festival entertainments. The Winter Gardens complex also had one of the two cinemas in the area.  The other one was in Hampden Road, Malvern Link.

Advertisement taken from a 1930s Malvern Guidebook
Advertisement taken from a 1930s Malvern Guidebook

Other entertainments would have had a greater appeal to the local population than the Festival plays. The two Picture Houses, the open air swimming pool and the bands in the park would have regularly attracted Wedderburn Road residents from the 1920s onwards. Many of the children growing up in the street would have learned to swim at the outdoor pool.

Families enjoying the boats in Priory Park
Priory Park boating lake, Winter Gardens in 1940s

The Bands in the Park performed every Sunday during the summer.  Sometimes they lost money if the weather had been poor.  Malvern Urban District Council would then be approached to cover the losses.

Days Out for Working People

Double-decker bus at Malvern Wells Terminal
Double-decker Bus at Malvern Wells Terminal

Every August Bank Holiday, thousands of visitors from the Black Country would pour into Malvern.  This was the first weekend in August then.  The visitors would enjoy themselves on Link Common where there was usually a fair.  Some made it as far as the hills. Malvern people would also enjoy these entertainments and local businesses and guest houses often did well.  Townspeople would save up to go on excursions to Weston, Blackpool and the Cotswolds.  Several local memories recall the coach outings organised by Mr Hayes after the war.  He lived in Eastfield Cottage in Wedderburn Road .

Advertisement for Midland Red bus services 1940s
Advertisement for Midland Red bus services 1940s

Day trips for most families though would have relied on the local bus service.  They would travel into the nearby countryside such as the Old Hills with a simple picnic, or sometimes further if relatives could be visited.  Rosa describes trips she made with her mother and brother on a double decker bus. The family walked up to Great Malvern to catch the bus which took them to the Wells terminus at British Camp. Here they would walk to the Reservoir where they would enjoy a picnic and a pot of tea. The ice creams sold at British Camp were renowned!

Commemorating National Events

Rosa clearly remembers being invited to Reginald Malsom’s house opposite her home to watch the coronation in 1953. Quite a few neighbours had been invited for the occasion and he laid on some food and cigars for the men. At the end of the war, the Davey family further down on the south side, celebrated VE Day in 1945.  They invited some of the sailors from HMS Duke along with neighbours to a garden party. Food and music were provided.

Wedderburn Children Amused Themselves

Younger children were very adept at amusing themselves. Roy and his friends loved to wander over the fields that still surrounded Wedderburn Road.  The area now occupied by Skyrrold Road and the Pound Bank houses was not developed until the 1950s.  Or the children might explore the fields on the south side which led to Guarlford Common. When the young men returned from the Second World War, Roy would enjoy being in their company, following them over to Poolbrook Common. Here he and his friends would immerse themselves in pretend gunfights which had caught their imaginations and these older men became role models.  Jill has described the pretend games that took place in the road too, with children aged from 2 to 10 playing weddings. A girl called Benita was always the bride while Roy was often the bridegroom! Another popular activity was playing conkers.  Rosa has fond memories of her neighbour, Mr McAdam leaving ripe horse chestnuts on her doorstep which she would find in the morning.

Roy’s brother was old enough in 1947 to attend the newly formed Poolbrook and Malvern Common Youth club.  The Youth Club was for young people over the age of 12. It operated from the Foley Institute every Tuesday and members paid one shilling to join and 2d each club night. The Club ran until 9.45 pm. Activities included dancing, billiards, football and cricket and a trip in the first year took members to Barry Island. Whist drives were held regularly to raise funds for club activities and so in this way, the club also provided social activities for adults.

Three photographs showing Priory Park, Rose Bank Gardens and Manor Park in mid 1940s
Priory Park, Rose Bank Gardens and Manor Park from a 1940s guide book
Two local guide books from late 1940s
Two local guide books from late 1940s