Thursday, 8 October 2009

Solved! The mystery of Henry Tillett Packman's 'Tavistock Theatre'

Roger Packman has solved the mystery of his great grandfather's ownership of the 'Tavistock Theatre' (see blog entry 29 September). It was a spoof! Roger recently met up with a relative, Lesley Joffick, with whom he shares Henry Tillett Packman as a great grandfather, and Lesley showed him her collection of the printed theatre programmes.

Henry T was a wealthy wholesale and retail butcher who traded at London's Smithfield Market and also had a number of retail outlets, the only one in Bloomsbury being at 40 Store Street.

Roger says: 'There is an element of disappointment in that Henry T didn't actually own a theatre, but on the other hand the family and friends/neighbours had clearly taken huge trouble to produce these Christmas events. I think the wit and humour contained within them plus getting the programmes actually printed is a fantastic example of the lengths that they would have gone to in order to produce their own entertainment, by comparison with what of course is available today.'

The programme reproduced above dates from 1907. It is clearly also a very good exercise in marketing, and Henry T may indeed have distributed these amongst his customers for advertising purposes. By including advertisements from other local traders, he may also have offset the cost of printing! A clever man.

Roger has sent me lots of interesting information about his Bloomsbury family, which I'll be featuring in other blog entries.
If you have an ancestor who worked as a butcher, particularly such a high profile one as Henry T, you may find it worthwhile to search the trade journal entitled The Meat Trades' Journal and Cattle Salesman's Gazette published 1888-1966, thereafter called the Meat Trades Journal. These are viewable in the British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale, North London.