Philip Lewis remembers being very glad to come to the Grand during the Second World War, even though the performances were not of the highest standard!

“I think it was 1943 – Blossom Time or Lilac Time – it was the music of Schubert arranged into a musical performance and there the leading singer – whose name I remember to this day – was called Leo Sheffield. Poor chap, he was past it, he must have been seventy plus and I assume all the better singers were in the Services. Apparently this Leo Sheffield was a known artist – he’d made films and was reputed to be a baritone of quality. I’ve no recollection of this quality: all I recall is this poor old chap doing his best….As Mother was widowed we took in lodgers from time to time and I think in that very performance we took in a man from the chorus: his name was Tom Bowling. He contended he was a descendant of the Tom Bowling, where we all sit and remember him at the last night of the Proms, and he too must have been in his mid-seventies in the chorus, secretly past it…My recollection of the wartime performances is, compared with modern standards, they were second-rate, third-rate, but the audiences were not critical: we were glad to have something live and vibrant in the middle of rather a dark town at that time of our lives.”

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