Pageant of Wealdstone
Place: Wealdstone (Harrow) (Harrow, Middlesex, England)
Number of performances: 1
30 May 1956
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Written and Produced by [Pageant
Master]: Walker, Ronald
- Written and Produced by [Pageant
Master]: Lovely, Kenneth
- Lighting: Peter Watson
- Wardrobe Mistress: Mrs K. Boston
- Property Master: Mr W. Boston
Names of executive committee or equivalent
- Miss Dimbleby, Borough Librarian
- Mr. McFarlane, Borough PR Officer
- Rev. Roy Deasey
- Rev. Edward Finch
- Glee Club
- Junior Church
- Young Wives’ Group
- Mothers’ Union
- Holy Trinity Fellowship
- Youth Church
- Church Lads’ Brigade
- Girl Guides
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
Names of composers
Numbers of performers
Object of any funds raised
In celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the formation of the Parish and of the Consecration of the Holy Trinity Church
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
Episode 1: Harrow Station
Henry, a Crown Employee and his wife visit a Land Agent’s Office and discuss buying a plot of land by Harrow Station, to retire to. Included in the plot is a free first class ticket between Euston and Harrow Station for 11 years, and the right to send sons to Harrow school. They agree to the terms of sale. The ‘Common Man’: ‘the Little Man, the Man-in-the-Street, and the British Working Man’ introduces themselves and bring in the scenery for the next scene.
Episode 2: The Faithful Few
The scene is a bar with a publican serving labourers who are talking about a fatal cart accident and the unsuccessful attempts to revive its victim. Henry, the Crown employee, enters and is addressed by the Publican in comically refined terms (for which he is mocked). He asks about the area and is told about how undeveloped it is, and the lack of work there due to growing population:
You see, the landowning families in these parts—about six of them, there are—they farm or sub-let as much as they can, but the population is growing all the time. The same amount of work has to be shared among a bigger number of people every year.’
There are general complaints about the plight of the poor. The Crown employee decides to go back to London rather than buy here.
The Chorus and the Voice of the Press of Harrow have an argument about the problems of nineteenth-century Harrow, with the Common Man taking the latters’ side.
Episode 3: The Consecration
The Rev. W.H. Knight and Two Churchwardens convene and discuss the need to build a church near the station. One of the Wardens complains about the expense of building such a church. The Rev. Peers enters and is greeted. He is to be the new Vicar of Harrow Weald. His uphill struggle is explained to him. Subsequent action conveys Peers’ struggle to form a congregation and the beginning of the church building.
Interval: Refreshments in the Scout Hut
Episode 4. Building on the Foundations
The Rev. Story complains to Peers that after 11 years all they have managed is ‘half a church’ which can only seat 262 people, due to the lack of forthcoming funds. Without the extra money they will have to wait to build the other half of the church. Story ultimately relents and agrees that ‘Half a church is better than none’, but still believes they have failed in what they set out to achieve. The solicitor, Gamlen, in shown in and they discuss the building of the church and its siting.
Episode 5. The Organisations
The Bishop performs a service consecrating the church and then preaches a sermon
Episode 6. The Future
Various scenes of the Parish’s history are introduced by the voices of the Chorus, the Common Man and the Press: the construction of the Post Office, the departure of the Rev. C.E. Story, the Local Elections, local Poor Relief Missions, the erection of public gas lamps, and the overall increase in the church congregation.
Tableau of the Wealdstone Mothers’ Union
Tableau: Meeting of the Harrow Weald Council on the reuniting of the local postal address
Some of the people in the disconnected south prefer not to be associated with the parish at all! This leads to a discussion of local criminality and drunkenness due to the high numbers of working-class residents. W.S. Gilbert, a local resident, appears and complains of drunkenness.
Demonstration of Local Youth Organisations, the Church Lads’ Brigade and the Scouts.
Closing Speech summarizing the history of the Parish
Singing of Jerusalem and Final Blessing.
Key historical figures mentioned
- Gilbert, Sir William Schwenck (1836–1911) playwright
- ‘We love the place, O God’
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Harrow Observer and Gazette
Book of words
- None noted
Other primary published materials
- Pageant of Wealdstone, 30 May 1956. Harrow, 1956. [Price 3d.]
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
- Programme, Photographs, Newspaper Cuttings, and typescript in London Metropolitan Archives, Reference DRO/162/124
Sources used in preparation of pageant
This is an excellent example of a London suburban pageant from the 1950s, highlighting the anxieties of a community being swallowed up by the urban sprawl of the capital, thereby losing much of its history (see Finsbury (1960) and Croydon (1960). The focus of the narrative was purely on local history, and the building of the Holy Trinity Church. The pageant suggested that the church and local organizations created a community in a settlement which came together due to the coming of the commuter railway and speculative building, two factors which were often presented critically in many inter-war pageants (see Surrey (1937) and England's Pleasant Land (1938)). The narrative is also striking in its use of the figure of the press and common man alongside a narrative chorus.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Pageant of Wealdstone’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1451/