Founded in 1942, the North Wales Magic Circle has a long and interesting history.
Formation of the Circle
The Circle was formed in 1942 in Rhyl, and was the brainchild of John Leckie. There was no local magic society so John decided to form one. At a function he met Sid Woods, who was the magical entertainer for the evening, to whom he put his idea. Sid was most enthusiastic. They knew of another magician living eastward along the coast, but did not know his address. John wrote him a letter and addressed it “Mr Magician, Mostyn, Flintshire”. Two weeks later came a reply from the very man… Sam Hughes, of 51 Taylor Street, Flint, saying he would meet them.
The three met in the Bedford Cafe, Rhyl and, with a report in the local press, made contact with nine other interested local magicians. These nine held their inaugural meeting on the 4th November 1942, in the Gladstone Hotel, Rhyl. Their names were:
- Sam Hughes,
- Professor Jesson,
- Will Lloyd Lawrence M.A.,
- John Leckie,
- Wilf Leyland,
- Alvin Lovatt,
- W.R. Watkins,
- Sid Woods.
They elected Wilf Leyland as President, John Leckie as Hon.Secretary, Alvin Lovatt as Hon.Treasurer, W.A.Carr as Hon.Editor.
Wilf Leyland held the presidential office until his death in October 1946. Sam Hughes was then elected President, an office to which he was elected annually for the next 29 years until his death in 1975. The rules were then changed, subsequent Presidents could hold office for one year only; but the ruling came too late, for of the original nine, only John Leckie had survived. He finally accepted the Presidency in 1981. He died in September 1986.
The first Griffin magazine, Vol 1, No 1, was published in May 1943.
The National Association of Magical Societies was formed in 1946, and the Circle was among its first members. In March 1947 the Circle very successfully hosted the meeting of the N.A.M.S.. This success undoubtedly put our Circle on the map.
In 1947 and 1948, W.R.Watkins, in conjunction with the commanding officer of Kinmel Camp, successfully staged a Searchlight Tattoo at St Asaph. Harry Benson did a blindfold drive; Eric Seager did an act; Alvin Lovatt acted as Treasurer for the event.
On the 6th of March 1948, the Prestatyn Weekly for March 6th 1948 published an article stating that The North Wales Magic Circle had a Pyschic Research Department, and that any ‘sightings’ etc should be advised to Hon.Sec. Harry H. Benson.
1950s to 1980s
The first Annual Dinner was held on Friday, 9th April 1956, in the Nant Hall Hotel, Prestatyn. Price 7s 6d per head (37.5 p!).
The 25th Anniversary Celebration was held at the Royal Lido, Prestatyn with the then President of the I.B.M.Ring 25, Geoffrey Buckingham as Guest of Honour.
In 1968 the Mersey-Dee Inter Society Competition was held in Moore, Warrington. Sam Hughes and Rovi, representing the Circle, brought the trophy to North Wales for the first time. Rovi travelled around trip of 200 miles to represent the Circle. In 1970, the trophy was again brought back to North Wales, this time by Slim & His Magic (Ron Mutch) and Rulon & Helena (Arthur & Ellen Booker).
In 1969, Trevor Lewis became World Champion Close-Up Magician.
The Circle Master Magician Award was won by Marc & Jayne in 1983. They went on to win the I.B.M. Shield in 1984.
The Circle boasts THREE Past Presidents of the I.B.M. British Ring No 25 – Geoffrey Buckingham, Oscar Paulson and Rovi.
Geoffrey Buckingham, Rovi and Trevor Lewis are Members of the Inner Magic Circle, Gold Star. Rovi is also the only magician to become a Bard.
The Golden Jubilee
The Circle Golden Jubilee Year was celebrated with a Banquet and Cabaret held in the St George’s Hotel, Llandudno, 25th April 1992. There, Robert John, our Jubilee Year President welcomed our guests of honour: David Berglas, President of the Magic Circle and Geoff Ray, President of the British Ring No. 25. Ali Bongo was Toast Master and Compere. This was followed on Sunday, 26th April by a one day convention, held in the same hotel. Both events were highly successful, receiving acclaim from the visiting magic fraternity and guests alike. To mark our Golden Jubilee Year, the Circle adopted its bilingual title which is included on all official documents and stationery.
In 1995, Trevor Lewis was lecturing and entertaining on Geoff Maltby’s Magical Cruise aboard the QE2. A special award was made to Trevor for his work in making the event so successful. Trevor Lewis is also a Past President of IBM British Ring 25.He did many cruises aboard the QE 2 for Geoff Maltby. He also performed & lectured all over Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina & 45 times in the United States of America.
At the I.B.M. convention in September 1995, Jayne and Stuart Loughland and partner, with their comedy act Marie Claude Chantelle & Co won the Conventioneers’ Trophy for originality, the Tom Harris Cup for Comedy and the British Ring Shield.
At present we have 69 members. The membership includes professionals, amateurs and beginners. Many members have appeared on TV, a number have performed for British and foreign royalty. Others are internationally well known performers and lecturers in the world of magic. Two members have had their own TV series.
The North Wales Magic Circle – Cylch Hud Gogledd Cymru has grown through the hard work of members past and present, to become a most prestigious society.