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Hewitts - Newsclips

Mr W F J Hewitt

Unknown newsclip, April 1946

Founder of Drama Society

WIDOW of the "father" of the cinema in Wellingborough and Rushden Mrs. Ellen Elizabeth Hewitt, of "Studland", Westfield-road, Wellingborough, died on Wednesday at the age of 80, after a short illness.

Mrs. Hewitt was very well known and respected in the district, as she and her husband, Mr. W. F. J. Hewitt, who died in September 1939. were the founder members of Rushden Amateur Dramatic Society in the '90s. and played the leading roles in several of the early productions.

Mr. and Mrs Hewitt came to Rushden from London in 1889. In 1910 they moved to Wellingborough, and Mr. Hewitt was co-founder with the late Mr. George Brown of the present Palace Theatre Company.

The name Hewitt has always been svnonymous with cinemas, as Mrs. Hewitt's two sons are both managers of local cinemas. Mr. L. W. Hewitt at the Palace, Wellingborough, and Mr. W. R. Hewitt at the Ritz, Rushden.

There is one daughter, Mrs. Tom Perkins, of Wellingborough.

The funeral will take place at Rushden on Saturday. A service at the house, with Pastor O C Austin, late of the Baptist Tabernacle. Wellingborough. officiating, will precede interment at Rushden cemetery.

The funeral arrangements havebeen entrusted to Mr. George Robinson, funeral director, Croyland road Wellingborough.

Unknown newsclip

Successful Drama At Rushden                 

By The Irthlingborough Dramatic Society

On Friday and Saturday last, the famous negro drama "The Flag of Freedom," was given at the Public Hall, Rushden, by the Irthlingborough Dramatic Society in aid of the funds of the Rushden Temperance Band.

The play was well staged and produced by Mr. W. Hewitt, several of the scenes being remarkably good. The piece was exceedingly well played, and the Irthlingborough Society proved themselves to be actors of no small merit.

The various characters were as follows :—

Nahmetta (A Sqadroon Slave) Mrs. W. Hewitt
Palmedo Diaz (A Creole Slave) Mr. E. Rivitt
Harry (their son) Master R. Warren
Tom Trunnion (an English Tar) Mr. A. Chambers
Sam Sliddery, Esq. (the Man from London) Mr. A. E. Groome
Senor Riccio (a Planter) Mr. P. Hewitt
Deigo (an Overseer) Mr. W. Houghton
Senor Corderilla (Governor) Mr. F. Perkins
Gus (a Pompous Slave) Mr. F. Berwick
Manuel (Mine Overseer) Mr. C. Parker
Captain LeClerc (of the Brazilian Army) Mr. F. Wood
Also a large number of ladies and gentlemen as Slaves,
Scouts, Soldiers, etc.

Practically the whole of the performers left very little to be desired, but special mention should be made of the following:-

Mrs. Wm. Hewitt in the very difficult part of Nahmetta was exceedingly good.

Mr. A. E. Groome, as the man who wanted to get back to Farringdon Street, kept the house in roars of laughter.

Mr. W. Houghton as Deigo played the villain splendidly.  

Mr. A. Chambers, as Tom Trunnion, made an ideal Jack Tar. 

The Misses Ambridge and Jackson were recalled nightly for their cake walk, which was enhanced by some beautiful limelight effects by Mr. L. Hewitt, jun.

Miss Clara Brightwell sang "Blue Bell" very nicely during the evening, the audience singing the chorus with much gusto.

Much of the success and enjoyment of the performances was due to the services of the fine Orchestra, under the conductorship of Mr. F. S. Knight, and the leadership of Mr. J. W. Randall (which by the way was one of the best it has been our pleasure to hear in the Public Hall), comprising the following players:- Violins Messrs. Underwood, Parker, Scholes, Ireland, and Neal; viola, Mr. Stokes; flute, Mr. Giles; cornet, Mr. Knight; trombone, Mr. Percival; cello, Mr. Ballard; bass, Mr. Lockie; pianist, Miss Rose Knight.

Mr J W  Randall,  teacher of the violin
and mandoline, visits Rushden, Raunds, and
Stanwick.—For terms apply, Haydn House,
Kimbolton Road, Higham Ferrers.
From Evening Telegraph, 2nd Sept 1939

County Cinema Pioneer

Death at Wellingborough of Mr. W. F. J. Hewitt.

A PIONEER of the cinema in Northamptonshire and for many years manager of the Palace Theatre Co. (Wellingborough), Ltd.. Mr. W. F. J. Hewitt, died today (Saturday) at his home, "Studland", Westfield-road, Wellingborough, aged 72.

For two years he had been in failing health, which necessitated his retirement from active business affairs.

Mr. Hewitt was well-known in cinema trade circles, having served for a period on the General Council of the Cinema Exhibitors' Association, and for a period he was one of the four deputies appointed to the British Board of Film Censors.

He began his association with the cinema in the old days of travelling shows, being connected over 30 years ago with the pioneer film company, Walturdaw.

Mr. Hewitt was associated with Mr. George Brown, of "Rose Hill", Wellingborough, in forming the Palace Theatre Co., which now controls the Palace and Regal cinemas at Wellingborough, and the Palace and Ritz at Rushden. The old King's Theatre, now a garage, in Church-street, Wellingborough, was the beginning from which the company sprang.

In August last year, Mr. Hewitt and his wife, Londoners by birth, celebrated their golden wedding.

In addition to the widow, three children are bereaved, Mr. Leonard W. Hewitt, the present manager of the Palace, Wellingborough. Mr. Wilfred R. Hewitt, manager of the Ritz, Rushden, and his twin sister, Mrs. T. Perkins, of Wellingborough.

Rushden Dramatic Society - A Brilliant Success


The play, "Black Eyed Susan" in the Public-hall on Friday & Saturday nights by the Rushden Amateur Dramatic Society in aid of the funds of the Rushden corps of the Ambulance Brigade. So highly were the performances appreciated that over £40 clear has been netted. The house was crowded every night, and on Saturday the hall was packed by those entering the "early doors", while a crowd of several hundred people stood outside. It is no exaggeration to say that if the hall had been twice the size it would have been crowded.

The chief factors in securing such a magnificent success were the histrionic abilities displayed by the leading artistes and the very clever conjuring entertainments given by Mr. W. H. Moody as "the innkeeper". On each of the three nights he gave entirely different performances, and was so successful that one might have been tempted to believe that he had the assistance of the powers of darkness. The whole play went off with a good deal of spirit, and so realistic was the court-martial scene, in which the Admiral (Mr. W. H. Moody) has to sentence the nautical hero (Mr. W. Hewitt) to death that one of the auditors cried out "You brute", while another actually fainted and had to be carried out of the hall.

Presentation To Mr. Hewitt.

At the close of Friday evening's performance the whole of the performers as well as the members of the Ambulance corps were called together on the stage, and Mr. William Hewitt, the leading spirit in the affair, on whom has devolved so much of the preliminary work and the arrangements and to whom so much of the success of the play has been due, was presented with a handsome gold watch in recognition of his services.

The presentation was made by Mr. W. H. Moody, who said he had a very pleasant duty to perform on behalf of the members of the Rushden Amateur Dramatic Society and of the local Ambulance Corps, and that was to ask Mr. Hewitt to accept a little present in recognition of his services to the two organizations, and he hoped Mr. Hewitt would accept the present in the spirit in which it was given. They had all worked together, he said, and had made the thing a success. He hoped Mr. Hewitt would live long and that the watch would always bring back pleasant memories of "Black Eyed Susan". (Applause.)

Mr. George Parker endorsed Mr. Moody's remarks on behalf of both the Ambulance men and the Dramatic Society.

Mr. Hewitt, who had been taken completely by surprise, briefly expressed his gratitude for the gift and for the good feeling which had prompted the members of both the Ambulance Corps and the Dramatic Society to make it. Hearty cheers were then given for Mr. Hewitt, a brilliant scene ensuing, the sailors in the drama waving the Union Jacks and forming an effective tableau.

Amateur Theatrical Performance At Rushden.

The production of the well-known nautical and domestic drama. "Black-eyed Susan," by the members of the Rushden Amateur Theatrical Company, met with a grand success at Rushden last night. The object of the play was a very laudable one, it being promoted to augment the funds of that useful institution the Ambulance Corps. It may be partly on this account, and also from the fact that this company, under the able direction of Mr. W. Hewitt, has attained such a high degree of success in the past, that the hall was so densely packed last night that many were unable to gain admission. Certainly in the staging of "Black-eyed Susan" the amateurs scored an unqualified success. The piece is by no means an easy play to stage; it abounds in many thrilling and emotional scenes that the ability of the performers are taxed to the utmost, but last night the various characters so faithfully portrayed their allotted parts that nothing but praise can be bestowed upon them. Mr. W. Hewitt and Mr. W. H. Moody have been unremitting in their labours to achieve a success on this occasion, and it must have been a matter of great satisfaction to them to witness the genuine enthusiasm shown by the crowded house. It is unnecessary for us to enter into the plot and the various scenes which were so skilfully executed, for the play is such a popular one with the public that it is very well known. Suffice it to say, therefore, that it consists of two acts, the first embracing six and the latter four scenes. The scenery, supplied by Messrs. E. V. and A. Williams (late of Covent Garden, Drury Lane, and Her Majesty's Theatre), is undoubtedly the best which baa been placed on the Public Hall stage. The view of the deck of H.M.S. Black Prince is full of reality, while the gun room and State cabin scenes were greatly admired. The dresses, which were of a most costly description, were supplied by Messrs. John Hyman and Co., the well-known costumiers, and added a finish and charm to the performance. From first to last, the movements of the characters were followed with delight, and the quality of the play was far above many professional companies which have visited the town. There were forty characters altogether, the naval and military costumes mixing together with most pleasing effect. The principal parts were carried out by Mr. W. Hewitt (William), Mrs. W. Hewitt (Black-eyed Susan), Mr. W. H. Moody (the Admiral), Mr. G. H. Parkin (Doggrass, the miser), Mr. J. W. Waite (Gnatbrain), and Mr. A. Mumford (Captain Crosstree). Mr. and Mrs. Hewitt carried through their parts with the perfectly natural movements of accomplished actors, and won repeated applause. Mr. W. H. Moody personated the Admiral with a wonderful degree of precision that won the favour of the audience, his difficult parts in the court-martial and execution scenes being perfect; while Mr. Hewitt's pathetic parts fairly brought down the house. Mr. G. H. Parkin was again a grand success, acting his part as Dog grass with life-like faithfulness, Mr. J. W. Waite made a popular Gnatbrain with his free and easy style. Mr. A, Mumford had a difficult part to fulfil as Captain Crosstree, and while his efforts are worthy of praise, his movements were somewhat stiff at times; but he had a very heavy character to represent, and played welt for an amateur. All the other characters fulfilled their parts extremely well. The conjuring display in the public-house scene was worth witnessing apart from the play. Mr. W. H. Moody is well known in this particular department of entertainment as one of the cleverest performers in the country, and he fully sustained his reputation by delighting the house with several new tricks which defied detection and held the audience spell-bound, It was a pleasant break in the play, and one which was thoroughly enjoyed if we may judge from the enthusiastic applause which greeted Mr. Moody's efforts. The arrangements of the orchestra were under the guidance of Mr. W. S. Brown, who composed and arranged the incidental music. The members of the orchestra played a large part towards the success of the performance. The play will be continued this and to-morrow evening, and we would recommend those who desire a rich treat to book a seat at the hall.

THE Rushden Dramatic Society, which is composed almost exclusively of members connected directly with the shoe and leather trades, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday last, at the Rushden Public Hall, gave excellent representations of "Black Eyed Susan". The favourite character of William was cleverley acted by Mr. William Hewitt, boot manufacturer, Wellingborough-road, Rushden, while the name part found a successful exponent in Mrs. William Hewitt. Other parts were capably filled by Mr. G. H. Parkin, Mr. J. W. Waite, Mr. W. H. Moody, Mr. A. Mumford, Mr. G. E. Woodward, and Mr. G. E. Cunnington. After the performance on Friday night last Mr. W. Hewitt was called forward and presented with a very handsome keyless gold watch in recognition of his services as manager of the society.
Grand Theatrical Performance At Rushden [took place October 1899]

By the production of "The Purser" at the bands of the Rushden Dramatic Society on Wednesday and Thursday, playgoers were treated to a comedy of exceptional merit. The efforts of the society on behalf of the local Nursing Association, in whose aid the play was staged, have in past years met with hearty public support, with the result that substantial sums have been handed over to the Association. The success of "Black-eyed Susan" during last winter was most encouraging, and when it became known that a humorous nautical comedy was to be produced, under the especial supervision of the author, Mr. J. T. Day, of London, general satisfaction was expressed. ''The Purser" is a comedy in three acts. It has had a tremendous run at the Strand Theatre, London, making, we are informed, its first appearance in the provinces by its visit to Rushden. The piece was rendered additionally attractive by the installation of an electric current from Messrs. Cave and Sons tinder the care of Mr. F. Brown, electrical engineer. The piece was presented in one set scene - the deck of the Kangaroo, of London, a liner bound for the Antipodes, and the scenery presented a most realistic picture of the quarter-deck, the bridge and the purser's cabin all standing out in conspicuous prominence. To the left of the stage a glimpse of the briny deep could be obtained over the side of the vessel by means of a hanging side scene, and similar devices gave a perfect representation of the blue sky overhead, whilst more distant parts of the ship were rendered in perspective by an admirable back scene. The bridge, the handrail, and other portions of the vessel having just received new coats of paint further tended to introduce the audience to a ship about to enter the tropics, and reflected great credit on the manager, Mr. Wm. Hewett, under whose direction the stage accessories had been so effectively arranged. A splendid orchestra of about 20 performers, under the conductorship of Mr. W. Shakspeare Brown, with Miss Clipson as pianist, rendered stirring selections in an efficient manner. The cast of characters was as follows:— Reginald Temple, purser of the S.S. Kangaroo, Mr. Wm. Hewett; Patrick Brady, doctor of the S.S. Kangaroo, Mr. G. H. Parkin; Captain Causton, captain of the S.S. Kangaroo, Mr. W. Waite; Fred Finchley, Mr. W. H. Moody; Dick Masters, Mr. R. Lookey; steward, Mr. J. Pickens, Mrs. Stanley, Miss A. Cunnington; Edith Summers, Mrs. W. Hewitt; Mabel Viney, Miss N. Ginns; black steward, Mr. F. Reeve; stewardess, Miss L. Sargent; passengers, Mrs. F. Shortland, Misses A. Ginns, K. Waite, F. Darnell, Messrs. T. Willmott, W. H. Darnell, S. Brightwell, and G. B. Cunnington; first mate, Mr. W. H. Pingston; quarter-masters, Messrs. T. T. Clarke, E. Linnitt, and B. Cnnnington; lascars, Messrs. W. Wood and F. Shortland. The parts were all well sustained, the dialogue being continuous and recited to perfection, with clear enunciation and proper emphasis, the performers acquitting themselves to the satisfaction of the vast audiences who assembled to witness one of the prettiest spectacles ever arranged in Rushden.

Rushden Echo, 5th January 1900, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Dramatic Society
Perform “Black Ey’d Susan” – to Benefit the Temperance Band

During the year which has just closed the Rushden Dramatic Society have performed several pieces in aid of local institutions—“Black Ey’d Susan” early in the year for the Rushden Ambulance Corps, “The Purser” in October for the Rushden Nursing Association, and Black Ey’d Susan” last week for the Temperance Band. The two former efforts had been crowned with success, substantial returns resulting from both, and the last was by no means an exception, large audiences assembling at the Public Hall on Friday and Saturday. The drama is Douglas Jerrold’s, and was played at the Adelphi Theatre, London, by the late William Terries.

The costumes for the performances last week were provided by Messrs. Hyman and Co., and the scenery by Messrs. Williams and Co., of London.

The Rushden Echo & Argus, 4th April 1930, transcribed by Gill Hollis.

Rushden amateur theatricals of the nineties are recalled by this photograph, and the fullest description received in from:- Mrs. K. Parkin, 55, Higham-road, Rushden, to whom a Postal Order for 5/- will be sent.

Mrs. Parkin writes:-
The photograph under the heading “Who Were They?” published in last Friday’s issue of “The Rushden Echo & Argus” is that of a group of members of the Rushden Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, in “The Lancers,” produced at the Public Hall, Coffee Tavern lane, Rushden (now a billiard hall) in February 1898.

The names are as follows:-

Back row (left to right):- Mr. Alfred Groom (Rushden); Mr. Pearson; Miss “Tot” Brown (now Mrs. Alfred Pettitt Rushden); Mr. George Henry Parkin (who died in 1915 at Bedford); Miss Fanny Wheeler (now Mrs. Fred Shortland, Rushden); Mr. Walter Wood; Mr. George W. Coles (the well known Rushden councillor and magistrate); Miss Florence Darnell (now Mrs. E. Mustill, Northampton); Mr. George Ellis (now abroad).

Middle row (left to right):- Mr. Horace Streather (Raunds); Miss Minnie Wheeler (now Mrs. H. Addison, Rushden ); Mrs. W. L. Sargent (nee Miss Nellie Parkin, now of London); Mr. W. F. J. Hewitt (producer for the society and now managing director of the Wellingborough Palace Co. Ltd.); Mrs. John Dickens (Rushden); Miss Annie Cunnington (now Mrs. Cooper); Mr. James Waite (who died in 1927 at Northampton).

Front row (left to right):- Miss Kate Linnitt (now Mrs. K. Parkin, Rushden); Miss Louie Sargent (the late Mrs. W. Pingstone, Rushden); Mr. John Dickens (Rushden).

The photograph was taken by Mr. Sam Powell, now retired and living at Wellingborough, whose business is carried on by Mr. Edgar Linnitt, High-street, Rushden. Mr. G. H. Parkin was absent when it was taken, and his photograph was inserted later.

Other productions of the society between the years 1896 and 1900 were “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Black-eyed Susan,” and “Les Cloches de Corneville.”

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