1940s & 1950s

It is doubtful whether the Finchley Operatic Society (another new name) would have been re-formed in 1947 without the super-human efforts of Harold Hinton, who contacted old members and called a General Meeting where it was decided to revive the Society.

The first post-war production, "The Gondoliers", was presented in the spring of 1948, the musical director John Bennett continued as M.D. for 10 years, whilst the production was in the capable hands of Bob Baker. Jeanette Manly became prominent in the Society at the time and through the years contributed much to the well-being of 'the family'.

The first committee meeting took place at "Woodhurst" (the home of Di Chilcott's grandfather) at which Ken Bristow was appointed Treasurer, a position he held until 1986.

After "The Gondoliers" Bob Manly, son of the founder, was unable to continue as Secretary and Syd Cave took over the role.

Around this time another Society 'long server', Doris Jewell, joined the company. She appeared in the Society's productions and also provided the much needed 'cuppa' at rehearsals and in the Green Room during show week.

So the Society continued on its way, passing all the usual milestones until 1949 when the Dramatic Section presented two plays "George and Margaret" and "Flarepath". In 1950, another change in name, The Finchley Operatic and Dramatic Society, both the 'operatic' and 'dramatic' parts of the Society presented their productions at the Church Hall. Dorothy Patton, having played in many operatic productions, guided and produced many plays to the high standard she set herself and expected from others.

Before completing the first thirty years, the 1951 production of "The Yeoman of the Guard" held the record for ticket sales - 94% overall with at least two if not three performances sold out. This record was broken 25 years later in 1976 by "Kismet", when ticket sales reached 4,852 with HOUSE FULL boards up for every performance.

In 1955 the Society first staged "Me & My Girl" with Roy Spivey guesting from the National Provincial Bank Operatic Society as Bill and Muriel Mantle as Sally. The producer was Cyril Corker with Di Chilcott as Dancing Mistress, John Bennett as M.D. and Glyn Evans as Conductor. The tickets cost 4/6 (22 ½ p), 3/6 (17 ½ p) & 2/6 (12 ½ p).

The Society's 50th production in 1956 was "Lilac Time". Among the cast one reads of Ruby Clifft, Josias Adair, Frank Squire, Eldred Holmes, Pauline Wainwright (later Robinson), John Whiting, Howard and Dennis Robinson, Edward Warburton, Frank Hoblyn, Rita Beale, Maud Everton, Sydney Cave and Ron Judd - the producer being Di Chilcott and the M.D. John Bennett. Many of these names now read like a roll of honour, for many of them gave so much time to the Society.

A further look at the programme reveals that Mary Hembling was Secretary (a position she held from the early 50's to 1961), her husband Leslie was House Manager (a task he readily undertook for many years) and Jean Ewing (later Hodges) was Hon. Members' Secretary.

It is invidious to try to name all those who joined around this time but many familiar names appear in programmes - Rona Slatford, Winnie Monk, Harry Walters, Debbie Clifft (later Terwey), Valerie Laight, Valerie Covington (later Evans), and Judith Chilcott (later Edmonds).

It is of interest that Ruby Clifft, Debbie Terwey and Valerie Evans each played more than thirty roles with the Society over the years and Judy Edmonds has just celebrated forty years as a NODA member.