Welcome to the Fylde Mystics!
promoting the performance of Magic
The original Fylde Mystics Society
was formed in 1958. Among the 'founding fathers'
were Laurie Gleeson
and Ken Ashburn who have been honoured with Life
Vice Presidencies of the re-formed Society.
Few people will be aware that Blackpool was once the home of two magical societies - The Blackpool Magicians' Club and the Fylde Mystics. The history of the B.M.C. is well documented and needs no qualification with regard to its current aims and objectives which in the main is to stage each February the annual magical extravaganza, something it does extremely well.
The Fylde Mystics was initially the brain child of Bert Russell and was formed in January 1958 following a discussion with Albert Davis and Laurie Gleeson during a return car journey from Wigan to Blackpool after attending a magic competition at the Wigan Magic Circle. The three felt very much that there was a need for a society in Blackpool whose aims and objectives were to encourage the active performance of magic and provide a teaching base for enthusiastic young magicians, a concept that was unavailable in the area at that time.
The original founder members were Bert Russell, Albert Davies, Laurie Gleeson, Ken Bowell, Brenda Russell and Ken Ashburn. The first formal meeting of the society was delayed to allow Ken Ashburn to attend and be recognised as a founding member. Ken at the time was on active service in Cyprus serving with the Royal Air Force 284 helicopter squadron and was awaiting demob.
Dr. Alexander Cannon was the first Hon. Life President with Arthur Culpin, Francis White and Murray as Hon. Vice Presidents. Dr. Cannon's home was the Enchanted Hall on the Isle of Man; this enabled a special relationship to be formed with the islands only magical society The Magicians of Man. The two societies had regular exchange visits both socially and formally with an annual competition that took place each February on the eve of the Annual Blackpool Convention. The event always attracted a full house as in those days no other entertainment was provided prior to the convention. The standard of the competition was always extremely high.
The society ran a number of competitions for various trophies, the most notable being the "Cannon Trophy". This was an inter-society competition between three societies. Each had to present two stage acts and a close-up act. It is thought that many and various societies took part, but we would be interested to know if anyone out there remembers the competition and if they ever had a team taking part.
Over the years the Mystics held meetings and social gatherings in various hotels and guest houses throughout Blackpool. The first formal meeting was held at the Claremont Hotel, North Promenade a venue it shared for a number of years with the Blackpool Magicians' Club, later moving to the Sun Hotel which was owned by Albert Davies. Albert owned numerous properties and businesses in and around the Blackpool area many of which were used over the years for formal and informal get-togethers. Probably it's most popular meeting place was 23 Hull Road in central Blackpool. This busy little guest house was the home of Cyril and Shirley Critchlow who always provided a warm welcome and generous hospitality. The final meeting place of the Mystics could not have been more appropriate "The Coronation Street Theatre" - This venue was a former Methodist Church Hall and had been purchased and refurbished at enormous cost by Cyril Critchlow in order to fill his life long ambition of owning a theatre in central Blackpool.
By 1977 with the loss of a number of older members the society had dropped down to an average of ten members attending on a regular basis all of whom held dual membership of the Blackpool Magicians' Club. Almost without any formal decision and following the death of Bert Russell meetings ceased. In 2003 the last three remaining members Cyril Critchlow, Ken Ashburn and Steve Eastham agreed that the Fylde Mystics should be formally wound up and its assets distributed to charity.
We are currently compiling a more detailed history about the society and it’s former members. If you have any information about the Fylde Mystics, we would be interested to hear from you.
BBC Radio Lancashire invited Alan Mylecraine and Allan Clarke along to talk about the Society. Every Saturday morning John 'Gilly' Gillmore hosts a segment called 'My Favourite year'. Saturday the 7th November was the turn of 1958 - the year that the Mystics were formed and BBC's Maria Felix Vas and a radio crew came to the home of Alan Mylecraine to talk to us about the Society.
You can listen to the full interview HERE. (available by kind permission of BBC Radio Lancashire)