'Duds' Concert Party grand entertainment
Luton had enjoyed entertainers from the military, thanks to the Biscoteers from Biscot Camp, who had given their final concerts in December 1918. But a Royal Engineers concert party from Bedford previously unseen in the town gave a concert at the Winter Assembly Hall on February 26th, 1919, to raise funds to help enable the Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Association to furnish their new members' club, the Ivy Leaf in Park Street.
A copy of the 'Duds' Concert Party programme (illustrated above) is included in the WW1 collection at Wardown House Museum. The 'Duds' were from the 'A' Signal Depot RE, by permission of Lieut-Col Leaf, and their grand entertainment was under the direction of Lieut E. A. R. Fowles (RAF).
The jokey printed programme was made up largely of spoof adverts other than ones from tailors Button Bros and music shop Farmer & Co. It also carried a quirky copyright notice saying: “This programme must not be used by ladies for curling papers.”
In its edition three days later, the Saturday Telegraph said there was a large audience in spite of unfavourable weather. The 'Duds' had an attractive costume of the pierrot type, and were a well-balanced party. “Their concerted numbers went with a capital swing, and the individual items, of a versatile character, were handed in good form.”
The party included Sgt W. Wilkinson (tenor), L-Cpl E. Ward (comedian), Pioneer T. Francis (light comedian), Pioneer H. Sunderland (baritone), Louis Ambrose (character actor), Pioneer S. Waring (pianist), Miss R. Gordon (character comedian), Miss Nancy Sutcliffe (soprano) and Pioneer Vivian (illusionist).