In 1948, Rossington Welfare Hall was the venue for a large-scale production by the Operatic Society. It was Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Mikado’. Not only did it need a large number of cast, but it demanded Oriental costumes for both men and women and a great amount of scenery.
The Operatic Society was born from the local Evening Institute and for this production, it married together the voices of the miners and their families with those of the local churches, the male voice choir, dancing troupes, and the local band. The Society had begun soon after 1936 with a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Gondoliers’.
The musical director was Pansy Moore from Rotherham who assisted with many local societies including Bentley, Dinnington, and Maltby.
Mrs Marian Lowerson, a Welsh miner’s daughter and wife, living in Rossington, was the accompanist and she was known at the time because she taught piano to local children and adults. She had received her music training in Manchester at the Royal College of Music. Her husband who worked at Rossington pit was in the cast of the productions. Her son, John Lowerson, went on to write a book about Amateur Operatics in 2005. He had retired 2 years earlier from Sussex University where he continued as a Research Reader. He went to Leeds University after leaving Maltby Grammar School in 1959. As well as earlier writing a range of history books, and being a lecturer at the University, he also trained to be a preacher and became the Reverend Lowerson. His family were part of the village’s Methodist community, but he trained within the Church of England.
The Society carried on through until at least 1953 when such societies began to dwindle throughout the country, but during its lifetime, the coal mine owners and then the NCB supported its life and productions, including allowing shift changes so that miners could attend rehearsals and performances. It was something to be proud of in the village. Its members included shopkeepers, the clergy and doctors as well as the miners, so it formed a cohesive group which lasted perhaps because Doncaster or other towns offering such productions were a bus ride away and fewer people had cars in the years it existed. The audience was largely drawn from the village for the same reasons. Dr Kane, one of the local GPs, and Mr Moxon, the baker/confectioner in Rossington, were among those who took part in the productions over the years. The Society offered productions during World War II even if they were much smaller than those that happened pre-war. As TV began to appear in homes, such societies began to disappear and Rossington’s dwindled too.
Local people helped with making costumes and scenery, or they altered hired costumes. For the Mikado production, this must have needed a great deal of homework that came together for dress rehearsals. This production was noted in the local press as ‘The Miners’ Mikado’. Rossington was one of the societies that gave equal status to women in their productions so that they could put on performances with a wide range of voices.
In the attached cast list, you will see that Dr Kane took a part.
The newspaper clipping below refers to the last performance at the Welfare