Arthur Jefferson condemns gifts

 BILL CROUCH tells us about an incident in the life of Stan Laurel's father, Arthur Jefferson 

In 1909 the Jefferson family in Glasgow consisted of only Arthur and eldest son Gordon, with his wife and two-year-old daughter. Arthur, as an un-discharged bankrupt, was no longer director of the Metropole Theatre in Glasgow. However both he and Gordon were employed as managers.

They were responsible for many new initiatives to keep the theatre vibrant and busy - but there was one particular announcement that Arthur took great exception to, as reported in the local news.

Severe condemnation by a Glasgow manager

 

The announcement that a Rudge Whitworth bicycle would be given at the Metropole last night attracted a specially large audience. In handing over the gift, Mr Jefferson said he very greatly deprecated this class of theatrical trading. It was directly opposed to, and must have a demoralising influence upon the best interests of the drama generally. After all, “The play’s the thing,” and when it becomes dependent for its existence on having to tempt the public to enter the theatre by the allurement of free gifts, it was surely as evidence of its degeneration and incapacity to attract, in which case it should be taken off and new work substituted - that was, if the drama were to flourish.

They might remark, “Then, why be a party to it?” Quite a natural query. In reply he reminded them that the manager of a limited company was bound to consider the interests of that company’s shareholders, and as other important theatres and touring managers had adopted this (to his thinking) regrettable policy, and the public supported it, the other theatres were bound either to follow suit or run the risk of a loss of patronage. Therefore they would be compelled to follow this system so long as it was embraced by others, but his objection to it was very great and, were he running the Metropole Theatre as a private speculation, he would drastically oppose such methods by standing or falling upon the merits of the play.

The Evening Times, October 30, 1909

Rudge Whitworth cycles was a manufacturer of British bicycle, bicycle saddle, motor cycle and sports car wheel, which was founded in 1894.

The cycles feature in one of the earliest surviving British Film Advertisements (BFI 1902).

The company was taken over by Raleigh in 1943.

The Glasgow branch of Rudge Whitworth Cycles was at 96 Miller Street - a short walk from the Metropole Theatre in Stockwell Street.

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