As Past President, Treasurer and Assistant Secretary of The original Derby Magic Circle I often get asked about The Derby Magic Circle's history and whatever happened to it.
The year is 1952 and visitors to a gentlemen's hairdressing shop opposite the Rolls Royce works in Nightingale Road, Derby were especially welcome if they were magicians. It was in this shop that Fred Wiles, the hairdresser, and well known and respected performer Tom Harris formed The Derby Magic Circle on March 25th. Another stalwart enthusiast Wilf Cadman joined them and others were soon recruited. Sadly, there is no surviving photo of his shop. The first official meeting was held at the R.A.O.B clubroom when seventeen members attended.
The first president was Tom Harris, with Fred Wiles secretary and Wilf Cadman Librarian and Producer. Many famous names in magic attended functions or appeared in shows for Derby magic Circle, among them Goodliffe and Dr. Zina Bennett who were Hon. Vice Presidents. Sadly today none of the early founder members are any longer with us.
In 1965 Derby Magic Circle suffered the fate of many "activity" organisations dwindling membership and lack of support. In October of that year the society was disbanded for almost nine years. In February 1974 John Keith appealed on Radio Derby for anyone interested in re-forming the Derby Magic Circle to meet him at the Sherwood Hotel, Derby. This produced a response from ten magicians who elected John Keith as president, Joe Bonsall secretary and Mike Neal treasurer. Joe Bonsall remained the secretary for 24 years until ill health prevented him from carrying on and sadly he passed away at the age of 79, he was known and liked by everybody.
Derby Magic Circle was into its "second life" and had continued strongly with a healthy membership, often performing for local charities and holding an Annual Dinner. The membership got up to approx 40 members.
This was a vibrant and active society simply called The Derby Magic Circle or DMC for short. Unfortunately, again, as so often happens, due to internal squabbles and fall outs plus lots of false accusations etc. a large number of members, some going back many years left the society.