PRESTON PARISH CHURCH DRAMA CLUB - Jean Thomson
The club was formed at the end of 1939 as a section of the Church
Literary and Debating Society and carried on during the war years
when concerts and plays raised funds which were disbursed to various
charities including Troops Comforts and POW funds.
On the 31st December 1949, the Literary and Debating Society was
wound up and the Drama Section became the Drama Club. rehearsing
and giving performances in Preston Church Hall. The original stage
was a simple trestle-supported floor with lighting supplied by
a bank of floor lights using biscuit tins as shades. It was no
mean feat for the players to come on stage as they had to take
a big step up onto the platform at their cue and appear as if
they had just strolled from the side!
Gradually the stage crew built a more sophisticated stage with
a proscenium arch and full lighting and. of course, proper curtains.
Dressing rooms were also improvised from anterooms and this seemed
very professional and a great luxury.
Over the years, many plays, revues and shows were performed some
of the more well-known plays being Ladies in Retirement,
Johnny Jouk the Gibbet, The Holly and the Ivy, Blithe
Spirit and in 1959, to celebrate the Burns Bi-Centenary, The
Other Dear Charmer was produced. The club regularly took part
in the Scottish Community Drama Association festivals, reaching
the Scottish Finals in Troon in 1958 with The ShetIand Yarn
when their well-liked and respected producer, Jim Tupman, was
The mainstay of the Group, though, was Mrs Margaret McBride (Peggy
McKenzie). who was secretary from the Club's inception and largely
responsible for holding it together. She was a lady with a big
heart and a devoted loyalty to her club.
The Drama Club was a great social group with a Christmas Dance
every year. the ladies in ball gowns and the gentlemen in full
evening dress and memories of the Grand March in the Church Hall
to Bob Brown's Band are something to cherish.
The Drama Club enjoyed many years of local "fame", playing
to capacity audiences of 150 in the hall with children sitting
in the window ledges - a little bit of magic. However, times change
and due to dwindling numbers, the curtain was finally lowered
in the early 1970s.
The winners in 1958: Back Row. Alex Grandison. Nessie Taylor.
Tibby Hendry, Frank Marshall Front - Alex Rankine, Margaret McBride,
Producer Jim Tupman, Jean (Ostler) Thomson