The Astrals, Cosy Corner Entertainers & Song Demonstrators
Prior to appearing in Redcar with the Optimists in 1931, Billy Scarrow appeared with at least three other pierrot troupes - the Astrals, The Cosy Corner Entertainers and the Song Demonstrators. He was the manager of the latter two groups.
Not much is known about this troupe, but we know that Billy appeared with them in Colwyn Bay, Wales in 1924. A youthful looking Billy is second from the right.
The Cosy Corner Entertainers
Billy Scarrow performed two seasons in Redcar with the Cosy Corner Entertainers.
In 1926, Billy Scarrow's pierrot troupe started their first season in Redcar, which ran until September 4th. The troupe consisted of Billy Scarrow (tenor), Billy Saud (contralto), Irene Phillips (soprano), Mabel Howarth (comedienne) and Joe Hill (pianist). They played in a location by the beach known as the Cosy Corner, which provided the name by which the troupe was to become associated. Cosy Corner was the remains of Coatham pier that survived the storms and breachings by various ships. A glass shelter was erected there at some point, and hence it was also referred to as the Glasshouse.
In this first season, Billy initiated an action to get the pierrot stand covered. Two years later, after careful consideration, Redcar Council approved a scheme (see section below - Song Demonstrators). The following year, 1927, Billy Scarrow presented his concert party again in Redcar, with a cast that included Jimmy Lynton and Celia Ridgeway.
In 1928, a theatre was built at Cosy Corner and named the New Pavilion. Billy Scarrow was to perform here many times with his troupe, The Optimists, in the 1930s.
The pierrot on the left of the photo below is Charles Parsons, who used the stage name Jimmy Lynton, and the 'pierrette' sat next to him is his wife Celia Ridgeway. This photo was taken in the year they were married, 1927. Four years earlier, however, they had a son who they named Leo and being unmarried at the time, they asked a couple they knew in Glasgow to foster Leo. He was later adopted by this couple, and took their surname Blair. Leo's son - and therefore Jimmy and Celia's grandson - is Tony Blair, the ex-Prime Minister.
The Song Demonstrators
Billy Scarrow appeared with this troupe on the Redcar sands in 1928. It was in this year that the Glasshouse roof was extended, as this extract from the Redcar Council minutes shows:
The Committee gave consideration to the plans submitted by the Borough Engineer for covering the Pierrot Stand. They are satisfied that in past seasons a considerable revenue was lost through performances having to be abandoned owing to the weather conditions, and taking the average income from the letting of the Pierr ot Stand at £180, they estimate that at least £300 will be forthcoming when the scheme proposed is completed. This income will be more than sufficient to pay interest and redemption charges on a scheme to cost £3,000 assuming borrowing powers over a period of 20 years are allowed.
The plans show that the entrance to the enclosure, including the shops will be reconstructed, and that the roof will be extended to cover a part of the shelters adjoining the Pierrot Stand, giving accommodation for about 800 people. In fixing income at £300 no rents of the shops have been included. The Committee are satisfied that the improvement can be carried out without any cost to the rates.
It was therefore decided to recommend the Town Council to make application to the Minister of Health for sanction to borrow a sum of £3,000 for the purpose of carrying out the scheme, such sum to be repaid over a period of twenty years.
The cost of renting the pitch used by the Song Demonstrators was £5 for the season. By comparison, the season's rent for the Punch and Judy stall was a mere £1, however, the Council rejected a £15 offer for the sweet and rock stall.