September 14th and the dark nights are back. The Peterborough Local History Society met in St Marks Church Hall for their first inside meeting since the three very successful outside summer visits.
Our topic for the evening was the History of the Peterborough Gang Shows and our speaker was Peter Ashpool, sporting his Scout uniform with the eponymous Red Scarf. A piece of the scouts uniform that denotes the person wearing it has taken part in a Gang Show.
There can’t be many people in this Country who have never heard of The Gang Shows. Many of the countries large cities produce a ‘Gang Show’ each year. Peterborough is no exception. The first Peterborough production being in 1937.
Gang Shows will always be identified with William Henry Ralph Reader CBE. Ralph Reader was born in 1903. He was orphaned at 10 years old and joined the Scouts at age 11 years old. The Scouting movement was to be a big part of the rest of his life. In 1920 he went to America and became a successful writer, director and producers of shows and musicals. In 1932 back in Britain he staged his first Gang show. It was during the rehearsals for that show that the name The Gang Show was born.
The first Peterborough Gang Show was staged in the now demolished Elwes Hall in 1937 Ticket prices were two shillings (10p) and one shilling and sixpence (7.5p). The shows continued being produced most years becoming more lavish and successful. From the Elwes Hall, the shows moved to the Stanground Comprehensive school then on to the ABC (or Embassy Theatre) and finally from 1980 the Key Theatre.
if you want more information about the Peterborough Gang Shows go to their website.- http://peterboroughgangshow.com/index.html
The Gang Show Anthem ‘On the Crest of a Wave’