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Rushden Echo & Argus, 7th August 1931, transcribed by Kay Collins
Mr. Frank Knight

For Rushden people the holiday had a sad prelude in the passing of Mr. Frank Knight, of 47, Moor-road, whose death occurred at 4.45 p.m. on Friday last. Mr. Knight was known throughout the district for his services to the amateur stage and had won admiration for his work as manager producer of the Rushden Players' Dramatic Society.

Aged 47, Mr. Knight had not enjoyed good health for the last year, and in June he entered the Metropolitan Hospital, London, for a rather serious operation. After a month in hospital he returned home four weeks ago and appeared to have benefited from the operation. Until a few days before his untimely death he was active about the town, and it was a rapid development of double pneumonia that brought about the end.

The deceased gentleman was a son of the late Mr. C. E. Knight, a well-known farmer, butcher and stock breeder, and assisted his father in the business at Hilly Farm, Bedford-road. He continued farming after his father's death until two years ago.

Mr. Knight had a good singing voice and for some years assisted the choir of the Park-road Baptist Church. He was intensely fond of the drama and good literature, and studied closely the many aspects of stagecraft. He naturally welcomed the formation of the Rushden Amateur Operatic Society, which he joined in its early days. Character roles in some of the operas were undertaken by him with much success, and he also assisted Mr. Robert J. Rutland in the stage management.

While the Operatic Society was still in being, Mr. Knight took steps to revive amateur dramatics in the town, and assembled a small company which, under his guidance, gave entertainments at the Co-operative Hall. One such venture was an evening on Grand Guignol lines, and on another occasion he produced a short play by Mr. H. E. Bates, the Rushden author.

Miss Mary Pendered's historical play "The Quaker" gave greater scope, and its first public presentation in 1926 was in the hands of Mr. Knight and an enlarged company of colleagues. Its success pointed to the possibilities for a permanent dramatic society in the town, and within a short time the Rushden Players were established with Mr. Knight in the joint office of manager and producer. The success of the society has increased with each succeeding production, and is largely, attributable to Mr. Knight's sound direction and the skill with which he has cast the plays. The Players have made themselves popular in. Rushden, Wellingborough and Kettering, and have raised much money for charities. They have also given concerts at Melchbourne in aid of British Legion funds, and on one of these country visits Mr. Knight presented a drama of which he was the author.

In March, 1927, the Players performed "The Unknown Quality" at the Rushden Royal Theatre. Subsequent productions included "Sweet Lavender" (1928), which was also given at Wellingborough, "Polly with a Past" (1929), "Cupboard Love" (a farce forming part of the journalists' Grand Guignol evening at Kettering in 1930), "The Ship" (1930), "Tons of Money" (1930), and "A Bill of Divorcement" (1931).

Frank Knight

Mr. Frank Knight in the role of the Commodore in "Polly with a Past."

Mr. Knight had a taste for the plays of Shakespeare, and would have dearly loved to produce them before a Rushden audience, but practical difficulties always barred the way. He worked always for the love of his craft and had much advice and encouragement from Miss Pendered, of Wellingborough, who has been president of the Players since their incept ion. By his death the amateur stage of the district has suffered a heavy loss.

Much sympathy has been expressed to the widow (nee Miss Gladys Colson) and young daughters Phyllida and Ursula.

The funeral took place at the Rushden cemetery on Monday. Owing to the holiday many of those who would otherwise have attended were out of town, but the company at the graveside was such as to indicate the esteem in which Mr. Knight was held by the people of the town.

The chapel in the cemetery was filled for a short service conducted by the Rev. C. J. Keeler, minister of the High-street Independent Wesleyan Church, who, having offered words of condolence, added: "The company here only represents a great number of those who wish to express their deepest sympathy—their sincere human sympathy with you who feel this hour in a way others cannot."

The family mourners were: Mrs. Knight (widow), Miss Phyllida Knight and Miss Ursula Knight (daughters), Mr. Harry Knight and Mr. John Knight (uncles), Mr. B. Lack (brother-in-law), Mrs. M. E. Lack, Mrs. James Knight (aunts), Mr. F. Knight (cousin), Mr. C. Richardson and Miss Alice Goldson (cousins), Mr. Johnson and Miss Johnson (uncle and cousin).

Representing the Rushden Players Dramatic Society were Miss Hylda Gates, Miss May Chamberlain, Mr. G. H. Parkin (treasurer), Mr. A. S. Knight and Mr. E. Linnitt. Councillor J. Allen represented the Park-road Baptist Church Choir, of which the deceased was formerly a member, and others noticed were Messrs. Fred Knight, J.P., Tom Swindall, sen., J. F. Knight, Frank Stringer, Herbert Lack, C. G. Ward, H. Cunnington, E. Harris, W. Ginns, R. A Wheeler, G. Hollis, J. Willmott, D. Nicholson, G. Bayes, Brooksbank, B. V. Page and W. Cauldwell.

A beautiful wreath displaying the initials R.P.D.S. was sent "In grateful and affectionate remembrance of our dear friend and producer from the Rushden Players." Other senders of flowers included Miss Mary Pendered, the Players’ president, and the Yelden and Melchbourne Branch of the British Legion, for whose funds Mr. Knight had given occasional dramatic entertainments.

Messrs T. Swindall and Sons were the undertakers.

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