‘Manxland’s King of Music’, an illustrated talk by Maurice Powell about Harry Wood and the golden age of the tourist industry
The golden years for the Island as a summer tourist destination were from the mid-1880s until World War II. Blackpool’s ‘little brother across the water’ punched well above its weight in terms of the quantity and quality of the musical and variety entertainments on offer. Many of the biggest variety stars and concert artistes appeared in Douglas: Marie Lloyd, Vesta Tilley, Dan Leno, Wilkie Bard and Little Tich, and the great Florrie Forde; Clara Butt, Nellie Melba, Emma Albani, John McCormack, Fritz Kreisler and Paul Robeson, to name just a handful.
Our guide through this fascinating period is Harry Wood, the musical director of the Palace & Derby Castle Company, and elder brother of the composer Haydn Wood of ‘Roses of Picardy’ fame, who came to Douglas in 1885 as a violinist for the summer season at the Falcon Cliff, and quickly became one of the best-known musical personalities in the story of entertainment on the Island. He also played a vital role in developing and sustaining the local musical scene during the long winter months with his pantomimes, Sunday sacred concerts, his students’ orchestral concerts, the Celtic concerts, his involvement with the Manx Music Festival and much else. The talk will be followed by a book signing in the Manx Museum Shop.