Memories of Josef

Such a grand character as Josef Locke is bound to leave a lasting memory on those who have met him.
If you have any recollections or photograph which you'd like to share, please email me.
Eamonn O'Doherty - Colin J Rennie - Katie Butcher
Alec Owen - Steve Barclay - Harry Lambert - George S Allsager

From the biography of Alton Douglas 

Information kindly supplied by Ken Windsor

Alton's diaries provide an essential record of the comings and goings of his career, which might otherwise be too complicated to follow.
We find, for example, that in March 1968, he arrived at the Ace of Clubs' in Worksop, for a week of doubling with the Carlton Club, at Chesterfield, to be greeted by the Irish tenor, Josef Locke.
(Irish accent): "Hello there young Alton. I don't drive so can you take me about for the week?" So I did. He'd had a problem, to put it mildly, with the Inland Revenue, which meant that he could only appear over here for a few weeks each year.
Speaking of hecklers, Josef had a most unusual method of silencing them. Instead of using the sort of heckler-stoppers that we might use, like "You tell them goldfish, you've been round the globe!" Or, "There's a man with a chip on his shoulder - oh sorry - it's his head!" Or, "Will someone come and collect tonight's booby prize?" Josef would just say, (Irish accent): "Excuse me sir, you're with a very attractive young lady. Every time you speak out of turn, you insult her." It worked far belter than any of the clever lines that we used.

By a strange quirk of fate, when they later turned a fairytale-like incident, supposedly from Josef Locke's life, into the film, Hear My Song, Alton was surprised to discover a host of connections between himself, and six performers featured in the film.

"Apart from having appeared on the same bill as Josef, I'd also worked with his doppelganger, referred to in the film - a singer who used to sing his songs, wear a mask and call himself 'Mr. X'. I worked with this act several times in Olde Tyme Music Hall. I don't want to disillusion anybody, but it certainly wasn't Josef Locke!
My old pal, Harold Berens, had a part as the bandleader. Also, in the opening segment, another friend of mine, Phil Kelly, was featured. The voice for Josef Locke, in the film, 'Hear My Song', was supplied by Vernon Midgley. I worked with him many times, and his sister, Marietta, in the London hotels. They were the offspring of Walter Midgley, the famous operatic tenor. The final coincidence about that film is that John Dair, who appears in the opening sequence, was Chairman of the Olde Tyme Music Hall, at the Edgbaston Cinema in Monument Road, Birmingham."

The Alton Douglas web site is  here.

From Eamonn O'Doherty, a Derryman now of Peterborough

In the early 1960's I was a member of the folksinging 'Journeymen' with Phil Coulter and Terry Cradden, Derrymen one and all. 
One night we were enjoying ourselves singing folksongs in 'The Drift Inn' pub in Buncrana Co. Donegal when in stepped a bibulous Josef. he joined in and then sang a few of his well-known pieces like 'Hear My Song'. In the company was a poacher-fisherman, one Eddie Doherty, better known as 'Eddie the Miller'. 
Josef suddenly rounded on Eddie saying "Where's the salmon you promised me?" To cut a long story short we all went down to the Crana river nearby and after a couple of tries with dry-fly Eddie landed a fine 5 lb salmon for Josef. Delighted, Josef and all of us went to Eddie's bachelor shack and had the best salmon supper ever.

The folk music group existed for about 6 months: June - Dec. 1963. It was led by Phil Coulter, internationally renowned songwriter ( wrote 'Puppet on a String' winner of 1967 Eurovision Song Contest , sung by Sandy Shaw), now has his own weekly TV show in RTE, Dublin. 
Terry Cradden and I eventually went into teaching. We were all academically
birthed in St Columb's College, Derry, same as Seamus Heaney the poet and John Hume the politician. We sang weekly on the BBC N.Ireland 'Half Door Club' in the autumn/winter of 1963.
You may contact Eamonn heree.

From Colin J Rennie, of North Lanarkshire

This lovely signed photo was loaned by Colin J Rennie, who writes: "The man with the glasses was my father's uncle, Mr Billy Cracknell, a salesman for washing machines. We think the photograph was taken just before the war at a Blackpool exhibition."

Photo courtesy of Colin J Rennie

Katie Butcher, Queensland

My name is Kathleen (Katie) & I live in Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia..
Many years ago in the UK when I was 10-11years old, I fell in love with Josef Locke & his voice. I sent my first & last ever fan letter to him.
I waited for the postman day in & day out & was terribly upset at no reply. Not realising that at that time he was escaping the Tax man. Back in !992 I saw him on the `Aspel Show` & wrote again to them, who passed it on to Josef. 
He replied with photos & a few words of which I was over the moon with. I had goosebumps after 42 years! I am so glad that I had made contact before he passed away. 
I managed to order & buy a tape of him, but it was played so much that it stretched & wore out.
What a man...what a voice. 

Alec Owen (A J Coleman)

Click to email Alec directlyI had the pleasure of meeting him, and shaking his hand in the bar at the Queens Theatre Blackpool.
I was just 14 or 15 years old so it is over 50 years ago, and during the Finale when he came off of the stage to shake hands with members of the audience, I was in the orchestra stalls,he shook my hand again and said "I met you in the bar earlier" and believe me I couldn't get my cap back on, the man was "Charisma" with a capital "K", a voice that wafted over you like cool air on a warm Summers night, he was magical, and I have idolised him from before the time when I met him.
I was a professional entertainer myself and at the early age of 14, I would busk the local pubs with my Father, he dressing as a vicar and reading a comedy sermon, and I singing "The Great Mans" songs, and having the nerve to be announced as "The Junior Josef Locke", something to this day that I get red faced, and am ashamed about.
I later became a professional act, and I appeared in places all over the world, I worked many clubs in your area, and the British Isles, throughout the 60's, 70's, 80's and finishing in the 90's when the club scene fell apart.
I like yourself am still trying to educate todays people to "The Great Man" and I have had success as far reaching as Florida, Michigan, Los Angeles, here in Scotland, and Australia, and all that I have introduced to him agree with me, and I am only sorry that they could not have seen him live.

Steve Barclay

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Steve Barclay, who has his own net sites at:
If you'd like to contact him,click here to send your email.

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This is the cover of an entertaining cassette which Steve did. Based around the old-time Music Halls, he pays tribute to several great British artists, including Max Miller, Ken Dodd, and George Formby.
Steve's excellent website is here: http:\\

I was about eight years old when I met Joe. He was appearing at the Oldham Empire with Bobby Bennett
in Aladdin; seems today's pantomime formula hasn't changed -  i.e. established star and young TV name.
Bobby Bennett was then fresh TV material, soon to be on
Junior Showtime - a show I was to appear on later .

Anyway, the pantomime started, and   no Joe as yet. I didn't know  who Joe was then, but my mum kept munching her chocs and saying "no he won't be coming on; he's dodged the tax man again". My Dad said`` keep quite Beatrice there's time yet!'

Well, Wishy washy told his gags with the kids, and Abanazar took Aladdin into his cave; the dame
said "don't take any toffees".
It was the end of the first half  and still no Joe!

The interval came and a friend of my Father who was connected with the Theatre, met us in the stalls.
My Mum said "Where's Joe then?" The friend laughed and said "Oh, don't worry. He's on soon", and asked if the kids would like to meet Bobby Bennett.
"Yes please, Dad " came the reply.

To cut a long story short we wound our way via the velvet lined Exit doors and finaly back-stage, where we met Bobby Bennnett. On the way back from Bobby's room my mum said "Oh look, it's him!".
We all peered and there was Joe, standing outside his dressing room in a black evening suit, which looked strange in contrast to the bright costumes the others had on.
Mum said" now that's the autograph you want .our Stephen. A proper star he is."
I think she was a bit in love with him, on a truly Woman's Own basis.
He signed our autograph books, and even gave us his black and white picture (which I still have today).
My sister is called Elaine, and in the second half of the show right after the tabs opened, there was a stool on stage, and on walked Joe himself.
He sang a few songs, told some gags, then said "and now a little song dedicated to Beatrice, Stephen and Elaine-  oh and their Dad of course..."
My mum nearly wet herself!
After he'd done his act, the panto went on -  I don't recall him being in the finale though.
Years later I told this story to an impresario I worked for in pantomime called Aubrey Philips, a man I like and admire to this day.
He said "Wow! that was my show! Small world.

Since then I've done lots of pantomimes myself, and feel sure that first sniff of the grease-paint at the Oldham Empire was all I needed.

I've learned since then that my great-great uncle was musical director at the Oldham Empire years and years ago, and it's rumoured he taught George Formby how to clog dance - would that be old or young George? His name was John Mealier!

Harry Lambert

Just browsing the "Net" and got a great kick out of your site on Josef Locke and Feldman's theatre.

Talk about a flood of memories.
My stepfather Cyril Smith was the circle doorman at Feldman's theatre prior to his WWII service and for many years after. The fact that he was also responsible for the supplies to the theatre bars meant he saw quite a lot of Joe.
 Joe, along with his friend Albert Smith, in 1949 attended  the Bispham Parish church on the occasion of the christening of my sister Sheila's first daughter  Pauline and stayed for the reception at Bispham's  Ivy Cottage cafe. Joe gave the baby two shillings, his friend Albert gave a gold sovereign.
In my teens during the war years I also worked at Feldman's as a page boy  in my Philip Morris uniform, one of my chores was to take a bag of bagels to Bert Feldman's room at the Clifton Hotel when he stayed there.
I also worked as a usher, backstage help / flyman etc, alongside stage manager Ted Forshaw, Dennis and Peter Johnson, sons of Bob Johnson, Feldman's booking agent. Of course this also meant working with the likes of Frank Randle (who we used to quite often see drinking " Over Wyre" in  Wardleys hotel) Hilda Baker, Reg Bolton, Harry Secombe, etc. etc.
Emigrating to Canada in 1948 , I returned to Blackpool.and again worked at Feldman's for the winter of 1949/1950 before  finally settling down in Canada. for good.
The picture of Feldman's theatre included in the collage is the only one I have found to date so is greatly appreciated.

Many thanks for bringing back some happy memories

Harold (Harry) Lambert


George S Allsager

I had conserable illness when little and cannot remember the journey when dad took mum and me to what was probably Blackpool to see Josef when I was about 8 or 10 years of age.

My father was a very quite person. A non drinker/smoker but on our trip to what must have been Blackpool to see Josef, my mother and I were suddenly presented with a most unexpected oration from dad.

Josef was asking the audience for requests when suddenly and certainly unexpectedly dad stood up and shouted louder than anyone in the audience, "Soldier's dream!" Josef looked up amidst taking quieter calls from others in the audience and then after a couple of minutes just carried on with his concert.

I have forgotten the next songs that followed. Dad looked disappointed; even a little dismayed, until, and maybe 20minutes or more later, Josef reached a pause between songs.

He seemed to hesitate for a moment and looked up to where we were sitting and shouted "I've not forgotten you" before commencing a very rigorous rendition of the much awaited Soldier's dream.

That memory was not only magnified by Josef's all encompassing personality which I was enthralled by but it was one of the few times when I was well enough to go out anywhere. I had pneumonia 7 times and the 7th time was to take me within 2 hours of meeting the grim reaper.

Thought you might like this very precious memory.
Regards George S Allsager

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