TROUBLE AT THE SOUTH PARADE PIER
During June 1956 The Musicians' Union, the South Parade Pier and the City Council were in dispute.
Here are the reports from the Evening News.
16th June 1956, Musicians' "War" with City Council, Threat to Pier Show
A state of war exists between Southsea as a holiday resort and the Musicians' Union concerning the South Parade Pier pit orchestra's rates of pay.
It is not known how it will affect the Tommy Trinder show, which is due to open on Wednesday week.
The Portsmouth Piers Beach and Publicity Committee is "adamant " concerning what it regards as a "local demand " and " dictation by the union."
Says the Chairman (Aid. G. A. Wallis) "If they want a fight they can have it".
"We are prepared to accept any properly negotiated national agreement, but we object strongly to the Musicians Union dictating rates of pay to us as an individual resort.
"Of course, we could pass the buck to the company (running the South Parade Pier show), and get them to provide the orchestra, and increase the
percentage paid to them. "But we feel that a principle is at stake"
Only Ten Days
" Our part of the bargain is to provide an orchestra, and we shall do our utmost to keep it."
" Although there are only ten days to go before we open the show, we hope that common sense will prevail."
Explaining the position from the Corporation point of view, Mr David Evans (Entertainments Manager) told a reporter: "We are members of the Association of Health and Pleasure Resorts, and originally because of demands made throughout the resorts, we formed a conciliation board with the Musicians Union, where all rates are agreed nationally.
These, of course, we are under obligation to pay.
"In this particular case, however, the demand has been made against Southsea, and two other resorts.
Believing as we do in negotiation and not dictation, we have resisted the extreme demand made upon us, and referred the whole matter to the conciliation board.
"The dispute has been going on for months, but only now at this very late stage, has the Musicians Union agreed to meet us in London and that is on the day before we open
our summer show at the South Parade Pier.
"At present, all the musicians I had provisionally engaged cannot accept"
Asked how it would affect the show, Mr. Evans said, " We still do not know. Do we get a band or not? I don't know.
Possibly the Musicians Union will give musicians permission to play until such
time as the dispute is finally settled. The Corporation is prepared to make any properly negotiated rates retrospective."
The Manager of the Piers, Beach and Publicity Department (Mr. Kinnear) said
that last year the musicians of the orchestra were paid £9 10s. a week.
Two months ago the Committee agreed that £10 15s. Should be paid.
"Subsequently the Musicians Union demanded £14 5s which, of course, we refused" Mr. Kinnear added; "It is such a serious thing that it might stop the show."
Mr. Reg. Bannistra, local branch Secretary of the Musicians Union said this afternoon: " The Musicians Union always welcome the opportunity of making a statement, but I am afraid this would have to be made at a national level.
" I might add that the matter of salaries came under review as long ago as May 1955, and the rate being asked for our musicians engaged in pit orchestras is based on exactly the same rates as those enjoyed by light orchestras, dance bands, military bands, and smaller combinations. In other words our aim is to bring pit orchestras fairly into line.'
19th June 1956, REPLY OF THE MUSICIANS
LATEST thrust in the Portsmouth Corporation v. Musicians' Union dispute over South Parade Pier Theatre orchestra wages is contained in a statement from the union.
Mr. Harry Francis (National Assistant Secretary) says that the union cannot be held responsible for "the difficult situation in which the Corporation now finds itself."
This is a reference to the fact that unless agreement can be reached beforehand, the opening of the Tommy Trinder show, scheduled for tomorrow week, may be without an orchestra, and therefore jeopardized.
Mr. Francis said: "The statement by the Chairman of the Portsmouth- Piers, Beach and Publicity Committee, in which he alleged that the Musicians' Union was dictating rates of pay to the Portsmouth Corporation as an individual resort is misleading. The union is not doing this.
"For years past the schedule of rates for summer season engagements agreed between the Association of Health and Pleasure Resorts and the union has been applied and observed in all such engagements except those in theatres.
" The Conciliation Board I representative of the Association and the union, to which the Entertainment. Manager referred, has never decided rates for summer season." engagements in theatres, and could hardly be expected to do so, as the managements of very many of those theatres are not members of the Association.
" The rates now applicable have, nevertheless, been observed in theatres at many resorts for several years past, and, in fact are again being observed this year.
" During March, the union decided that these rates should be extended to theatre engagements at all resorts, and that the old rate, which had become j quite unreal in resent circumstances, should be abolished.
" This decision was notified to the Association of Health and Pleasure Resorts and the Portsmouth Corporation almost immediately it was made, and the union cannot, therefore, be held responsible for the difficult situation in which the Corporation now finds itself."
20th June 1956, MUSIC DISPUTE; MINISTRY TALKS
THE Ministry of Labour is intervening, in the dispute which has arisen between Portsmouth Corporation and the Musicians Union.
Representatives of both sides are being called together to meet the Minister's representative in London tomorrow evening.
Mr. David Evans (Portsmouth Entertainments Manager), and the Secretary of the Association of Health and Pleasure Resorts, will attend on behalf of the Corporation.
One of the Union's two representatives will probably be Harry Francis (National Assistant Secretary), who made a statement to the Evening News yesterday on the union's behalf.
The information concerning the meeting was given by Mr Evans this morning in a reply to that statement.
He said: "The Association of Health and Pleasure Resorts has never attempted to suggest rates for all pit orchestras engaged at seaside resorts. What it has done is to look after the interests of municipal enterprises where pit orchestras are employed.
" If Mr. Francis had made the statement he now makes to the Press, to us when first we communicated with the union, this dispute might have been settled long ago."
" In fact, however it can be shown that the union have taken more than a month To extend the courtesy of a reply to the letter of the Association's Secretary.
Delaying tactics seem to have been their order of the day, and it is interesting to note that not until the day before Southsea's big summer show opens (starring Tommy Trinder) had they agreed to meet us."
" Obviously, on behalf of the Piers, Beach and Publicity Committee, I could not afford to leave it there, and after I had consulted with the Association Secretary, an approach was made to the Ministry."
"The Ministry agreed that there was a case for calling us together before next Tuesday and, in fact, we are to meet tomorrow."
" It is extremely difficult to understand why on March 15 the musicians negotiated for an increase of £1. 5s. a Week which they had already been told had received the sympathetic consideration of the committee, and yet, on April 12, they demanded a £4. 5s Increase."
"Mr. Francis has said that during March the union decided the rates should extend to theatre engagements at all resorts. Surely it takes two to make a bargain!"
"Mr. Francis refers to the difficult situation in which the Corporation finds itself, and for which the union cannot be held responsible."
"So far as the Corporation is concerned, some of the musicians are under contract. The difficult situation, therefore. seems to lie not with us. but with the union."
23rd June 1956, THREAT TO SOUTH PARADE PIER SHOW
Band Rehearsal Off
BECAUSE a meeting between the Musicians' Union and the Association of Health and Pleasure Resorts will not take place until Tuesday, it is almost certain that the first band rehearsal for Tommy Trinder's summer show at the South Parade Pier,, scheduled for Monday afternoon, will not take place.
Mr. Hardie Ratcliffe, General Secretary of the Musician' Union, has told members of the Pier's pit orchestra not to play on Monday.
Meanwhile. Mr David Evans (Portsmouth's Entertainments Manager, says he has advised the musicians that their wilful
refusal to report as indicated by their contract may have further consequences.
Members of the pit orchestra engaged for the Tommy Trinder Show , which opens on Wednesday, have made pay demands which the Portsmouth Piers, Beach and Publicity Committee are not prepared to accept without negotiations.
Yesterday, Mr Evans reported to the Piers, Beach and Publicity Committee that negotiations between the Union, Mr , Evans and officials of the Ministry of Labour in London have resulted in deadlock.
He reported that the Union's representatives stressed their contention that the new pay rate was to be generally applied throughout the country and was already being observed in certain areas.
Unless their demand was met, they could not allow their musicians to rehearse on Monday afternoon.
Mr. Evans said the Ministry endeavoured to effect an agreement, but the two and a half hour meeting proved abortive.
"The Musicians' Union had previously agreed to attend a conciliation board meeting with the Association of Health and Pleasure Resorts. and we hope that. they will be in a position to agree to negotiate," said Mr Evans.
Efforts to bring this meeting forward to Monday morning. have failed.
" There is a civic opening for the show on Wednesday evening, and as the musicians have a clause in their contract whereby rates and conditions are subject to alteration after signature, it was felt that the Union would, in fact, permit them to play," Mr. Evans said.
"WILL NOT SUFFER"
Mr. Evans made it clear that the production would not suffer by any hold-up of band rehearsals because it has already been produced at Bournemouth for two weeks and was a great success. " It is merely a question of staging it at the South Parade Pier," said Mr. Evans.
Mr. R. Bannistra, local branch secretary of the Union., said the Portsmouth branch was holding a meeting tomorrow, when members will be given a full report concerning increased rates of pay.
" I do not wish to be discourteous to the Press, who have so fairly published the statements offered by both sides, but since the early negotiations with Portsmouth Corporation when I feel a prompt and amicable settlement could have been made, the question has been out of my hands and I am not in a position to make a statement," he said.
26th June 1956, SOUTH PARADE PIER SHOW 'DEADLOCK'
Not Asked, Say Union
ON the result of today's meeting in London between the Musicians' Union and the Association of Health and Pleasure Resorts may depend the
immediate fate of Tommy Trinder's summer show, due to open of South Parade Pier, Southsea, tomorrow evening.
Members of the pit orchestra engaged for the show have made pay demands which the Portsmouth Piers, Beach and Publicity Committee is not prepared to accept without negotiation.
In an effort to find a compromise a meeting was held in the office of Mr David Evans Portsmouth Entertainments Manager yesterday, afternoon between Mr Chesney Allen the impresario, who with Mr Jack Hylton is presenting the show, and members of entertainments , sub-committee of the Beach, and Publicity Committee, headed by the Chairman (Ald. G Wallis).
Other member, of the sub-committee present were Councillors Horton and Collins and the Vice-Chairman of the main committee (Coun S. Willson).
Also at the meeting was Mr Alex Kinnear (General Manager of Portsmouth Piers, Beach, Publicity, and Entertainments Department.
After deliberations lasting 30 minutes Ald. Wallis told the Press that the position was still one of " deadlock "
He added that if a recommendation was made in London 'today, the committee would abide' by that decision. He said that a further meeting between Mr. Chesney Allen and the committee would be held this evening.
"We hope that the show will go on," said the alderman.
Seats for tomorrow night's opening show, which will be a civic occasion, are well booked.
It is understood that Tommy Trinder and the other artists concerned will not appear if there is no orchestra, but this view is not confirmed.
Yesterday afternoon there was to have been the first band rehearsal in the Pier theatre, but no musicians arrived. They had been told by the union not to attend the rehearsal.
Meanwhile, backcloths and sets were being placed in position by the stage hands ready for tomorrow.
Mr. Bannister (Vice Chairman of the National Executive Committee of the Musicians Union) and one of the Unionís representatives in London today told the Evening News before leaving for the London talks that the union had not known of last night's talks.
"If they reached a deadlock, they reached it between themselves. We were not asked to the meeting and we were not there. We did not know it was going to be held." he said.
27th June 1956, TRINDER SHOW IS ON AFTER ALL
Tommy Trinder's show at the South Parade Pier goes on tonight. But it was not until the
early hours of today that it was settled.
A dress rehearsal- without the orchestra had been finished for hours--when the decision was reached.
The last chorus girl had gone to bed, still not knowing whether the opening show would take place after all.
Only the members representing the City Council and the musicians, several officials, and the Press remained at South Parade Pier at 'lights out"-and still discussions went on behind the closed doors of the Entertainments Manager's office.
It had been a day of deadlock. Deadlock in London, where Union representatives met those of the Association of Health and Pleasure Resorts; deadlock between members of the Portsmouth " ad hoc " committee set up to deal with the situation on behalf of the Corporation; deadlock between the Corporation and the Executive members of the Union.
FAR OFF AS EVER
Indeed, at 11.30 p.m., agreement seemed just as far away as ever when one negotiator after another, "coming- out for air" remarked: "It's going on all night."
Even , the presence of the Lord Mayor (Coun. A. G. Asquith-Leeson), who had been asked to help in the deliberations four-and-a-half hours earlier, had not hastened a decision.
In fact, Corporation representatives had been in session for six-and-three quarter hours when the members of the Press were called into the office to receive a guarded joint statement, the nub of which was that agreement had been reached for "increased remuneration", based on the summer season rates "and that as stated," the show would take place as arranged.
It did add that "any" future claims will be subject of` negotiation.
And all this concerned increased pay for half a dozen musicians.
The former rate paid to musicians of pit orchestras was £9.10s.
Before the present season opened the figure of £10.15s was negotiated, and this figure was then raised to a basic demand of £13.5s
The statement left much unsaid. Asked whether, "based on the Union's summer season rates " means a compromise or whether the Union's full demands had been met and why
such prolonged negotiations had been necessary, representatives of both sides said they did not wish to go beyond the statement.
It was then pointed out that earlier it had been stated that the Union was asking for an increase of £4.5s. Had this in fact been granted?
The Union representative (Mr, Reg Bannistra) did not see why musicians salaries should he made public, in any case the figure was not correct.
Mr. Bannistra and Mr, H Bennett (Regional Organizer of the Union) had earlier been invited to attend. Mr. Chesney Allen, who, with Mr. Jack Hylton, is presenting the show, was also present earlier.
Members of the "ad hoc" committee were Ald. G A Wallis (Chairman of the Piers, Beach and Publicity Committee), Coun. S. A. Willson (Vice-Chairman), Couns. G. F. Collins and G. Horton. Mr. A. Kinnear (General Manager, Beach and Publicity Dept.), and Mr. D. Evans (Entertainments Manager), and Mr. R. Neave (Town Clerk's Dept.), were also present.
The musicians of the pit orchestra had been standing by ever since the meeting started.
Originally it had, been hoped that agreement would have been reached by 6 p.m, so that the rehearsal could have taken place with the orchestra.
At seven o'clock they were still waiting, and the Production Manager (Mr. John Russell) decided to carry on.
The Musical Director of the show (Mr. Arnold Eagle) accompanied the show on the theatre organ. Tommy Trinder was not present.
Today, Mr Eagle, the company, and the musicians were having an extremely busy day. A three hour rehearsal with the orchestra and a full dress rehearsal this afternoon, were scheduled before the special opening performance tonight.
28th June 1956, Musicians Objected to Trinder Cracks
AFTER the fireworks came the damp squib !
A threat from the Musicians' Union to withdraw the pit orchestra from the Tommy Trinder show after its opening performance in Southsea, was made shortly before midnight.
This latest development followed deliberations during the past fortnight as to whether the show would go on at all.
Centre of the new flare-up was the comedian himself "Trinder's the name" who was alleged to have made derogatory remarks about the musicians during the show.
But it was soon over when, first Mr. Trinder and then Mr Jack Hylton, who, with Mr. Chesney Allen, is presenting the show, had telephone conversations with the Union representative.
First inkling that anything was amiss came when Mr Trinder, Messrs. Hylton, Allen and Arnold Eagle (musical director) were suddenly called away from the reception given at the South Parade Pier by the Lord Mayor (Councillor A G. Asquith-Leeson ) and the Chairman of the Piers, Beach and Publicity Committee (Ald G. Wallis) after the show.
"COULD NOT SAY"
Mr. Trinder described to an Evening News reporter what had occurred when Mr Reg Bannistra (Local Branch Secretary, and National Vice
President of the Union) telephoned:
"He told Arnold Eagle that because of derogatory remarks I was supposed to have made, they would call the band out.
"Jack Hylton and I asked what it was to which exception was taken, and he couldn't say. After that the whole thing was resolved in a few minutes."
What were the "cracks" made by Trinder which could have had any bearing?
He began with his usual introduction of telling the audience how lucky they were, and then, looking towards the musicians, said with the broadest of grins: " Good evening, I am glad to see you."
Then back to the audience: " We nearly had to have a play tonight! You know folks, the Lord Mayor got annoyed when he discovered they were earning as much as he was."
After a few good-humoured sallies at the expenses of latecomers, he was continuing in similar vein when he saw the latest arrival was Jack Hylton.
In mock consternation, Trinder got on his knees salaamed, and then greeted the impresario with; "You know you nearly had to play the piano tonight!"
EXPECTED OF HIM
Explaining his position, he said, "Of course I crack gags, I do it all the time, often spontaneously. It is expected of me, at least I think it is, to makes jokes about current and topical items of interest. "I gag about Lady Docker and Diana Dors. If I happen to be in the news, I gag about myself. The musicians have recently been in the headlines, and, of course, I cracked about them.
28th June 1956, TRINDER SHOW IS BEST FOR YEARS
SOUTHSEA'S resident summer show with Tommy Trinder is a flaring success-the best in years at the South Parade Pier.
It has all the spontaneous gaiety and colour which have become- associated with these holiday presentations - and
A sparkling, unexpected opening no tame period of "settling down" for this show! and from then on "You Lucky ,People" progresses rhythmically and musically, and at times uproariously, from one hilarious peak to the next.
Those peaks are provided, of course, by "The Great T.T." himself.
"Trinder the Trollop" she's terrific! `Trinder of the " torrid torso" is a regular tornado.
But it is Trinder Just as himself, the big chines thrust forward, the mouth cowed
upwards in a huge grin, gagging continuously and spontaneously welcoming
interruptions, smacking back swiftly
with lightning sallies, above all,
Trinder, "the sweeper upper" and his sublime efforts to clear
the reluctantly departing crowd after the final curtain - whom the audience really loves.
Of course, Trinder is the show, and yet there is so much
else of real quality and delight. The slickness of production
is rivalled by the talent it deals with the quiet identical beauty of appearance, gesture, and voice of the Mackell Twins, and the more obvious charms of Anne Hart.
There is a nostalgic and Clever Charlie Chaplin impersonated by Ronnie Collis, a versatile performance by Carter (the man of a hundred musical instruments) and Doray, the delightful singing of Margarita Evans and Victor Labate, the folly of Bobby Breen And Roy Jefferies - and brightest of all, the performances of a beautifully dressed and well drilled chorus.
Trouble at gig!