Good Companions have been producing shows on the amateur
theatre scene in Derby, for well over 50 years and with high 
professional standards. With the use of our company archives,
company members photographs and memories, we have
put together the history of our society.
 
It was in the autumn of 1958 when members of Littleover Gayton Avenue Primary School 
Parent-Teacher Association and Teachers of the school, decided to produce a pantomime for the 
enjoyment of parents and as an added interest for the pupils of the school. 
 
The late Mr C.E. Brown, then Headmaster of the school, and a staunch advocate of P.T.A.'s, 
was wholly in support of the idea and teachers and members of the P.T.A.'s executive committee
headed by Mr C.E. Brown, Mr H.O. Lloyd (Chairman), Mr G.E. Bingley (Honarary Sectretary) 
and Mr L. Pipes (Honarary Treasurer) worked to achieve, what then appeared to be the imposible 
task of producing a good pantomime utilising children as far as possible.
 
The school was lucky in having teachers and parents with good acting ability and pupils with 
musical and dancing talents, the dancing pupils also being connected with Miss Cynthia Haslam's 
School of Dancing.
 
After due consideration, it was decided the pantomime should be DICK WHITTINGTON and 
Mr J. Ashby, music master of the school agreed to act as producer and Mr D. Scott-Savage, 
husband of an ex-pupil, Olwyn Salmon, as Musical Director.
 
 
The Cast of Dick Whittington - 1959
The pantomime played on Thursday 19th and Friday 20th February 1959 and was a resounding success,
playing to a full hall each night. 
 
 Programme Cover 1959
Dick Whittington was such a success that the P.T.A. immediately agreed to promote a further pantomime
for 1960. This pantomime was to be a professionally written one, and the Executive Committee were 
lucky enough to obtain a script of CINDERELLA written by Mr Chris Palin. 
 
Mr Palin, who had a connection with the Littleover area was magnanimous enough to allow use of his 
script free of royalties, and indeed continued to allow free use of his scripts in subsequent years.
 
Mr J. Ashby declined to act as producer for the 1960 pantomime, but the school was fortunate in having 
Mr F. Tomlinson as a parent, who was a well known figure in Amateur Musical circles. 
Mr Tomlinson agreed to take over as producer and on Wednesday 3rd, Thursday 4th, Friday 5th and 
Saturday 6th February 1960 produced Cinderella with Mr D. Scott-Savage again acting as Musical 
Director.
 The Cast of Cinderella - 1960
This was a more lavish show, being played on a stage which had been enlarged by the addition of a 
large apron constructed by Mr H.O. Lloyd and Mr C.E. Bingley with first class lighting engineered and 
organised by Mr F.C. Ward and Mr J. Simpson, a parent and friend of the school.
 
Programme Cover 1960
Once again, the pantomime was acclaimed a great success spurring the PTA and Committee 
to greater effort.
Cinderella in the Press!
  
Immediately, plans were made for the 1961 production which was to be PUSS IN BOOTS, again 
written by Mr Chris Palin. Mr Tomlinson agreed to produce the show, but Mr Scott-Savage 
expressed a desire to take part on the stage and the musical directorship was taken over by his 
father-in-law Mr H. Salmon.
 
PUSS IN BOOTS was played to capacity audiences on Tuesday 7th, Wednesday 8th, Thursday 9th,
Friday 10th, and Saturday 11th of February 1961, and those taking part enjoyed themselves so 
much, they expressed the desire to produce a Revue show between the pantomimes.
 
Mr C.E. Brown as Headmaster of the school agreed to this, but as the production of shows was 
taking up too much of the P.T.A.'s time, it was agreed that a separate Dramatic Section should be 
formed under the Chairmanship of Mr H. O. Lloyd, with Mr G.E. Bingley as Honorary Secretary 
and Mr L. Pipes as Honorary Treasurer, the dramatic section being responsible for its actions to 
the P.T.A. committee.
 
A name for the dramatic section was agreed, this being GAPTADS, the initial letters of 
Gayton Avenue Parent-Teacher Association Dramatic Society 
and production of the first revue went ahead.
 
The GAPTAD's Revue for 1961 was produced on Thursday 5th, Friday 6th and Saturday 7th October
1961 and was another great success, despite several members sharing a concern that the 
Dramatic Society did not have the ability for this sort of venture, but this was proved groundless 
with first class sketches supported by excellent solo and chorus work. 

During the early part of 1961, Mr Brown, the Headteacher of the school, became ill and his health 
deteriorated during the year, resulting in his eventual early retirement.

Mr H.O. Lloyd and Mr G.E. Bingley too were no longer members of the P.T.A as their children had
 left the school, but they were still active members of the Dramatic Society.

Plans for the 1962 pantomime went ahead, with a chosen show of HUMPTY DUMPTY by
Miss Trudy West. It was produced by Mr F. Tomlinson with Mr H. Salmon as Musical Director.
The show played from 13th to 17th February 1962.

This was the last show put on at Gayton Avenue School by the Dramatic Society as the new 
Headteacher, Mr Hall was not in favour of P.T.A's and the Dramatic Society in particular.

The P.T.A. was disbanded but the Dramatic Society would not do so with members deciding
to keep together and operate elsewhere under a new name. This decision was made at a 
General Meeting held at the school on 13th December 1962, with the name of the new Society
being agreed as 'THE GOOD COMPANIONS STAGE SOCIETY'.

A committee comprising of Mr Bingley, Mr Lake, Mr Lloyd, Mr Nash, Mr Pipes, Mr Scott-Savage,
Mr Tomlinson and Mrs Wicks was formed to look after the interests of the new Society.
The committee met at various venues to keep the Society active, find a new home and to continue
with the production of a revue.

The committee obtained rehearsal facilities at the Regent Street Hall of the Federation of
Old Age Pensioners Association.
A further General Meeting was held at the Son's of Temperance Hall, Duncan Road, Derby on
 the 6th March 1963, when Mr Tomlinson was elected Producer and Mr D. Scott-Savage,
musical director, for the following year.

As the Executive Committee had so far been unsuccessful in obtaining a new home, and as 
attendance of members was poor, with only 20 being present, it was agreed that yet another
 General Meeting should be held.

This General Meeting was held at St. Augustine's Church Hall, Almond Street, Derby on 
20th May 1963, when other key production officials were elected and most importantly of all, 
the Rules of the Society were drafted.

It was unanimously agreed that the aims of the Society should be:
"to encourage and foster appreciation of music and dramatic art and to promote 
entertainment for the benefit of members, worthy institutions and the general public."
and is was complying with these aims, that 'ONE NIGHT STANDS' in aid of worthy 
causes began.
The 1963 Revue was played to the Old Age Pensioners Association at Regent Street, Derby 
on Thursday 16th May, and again, in aid of Society Funds at St. Augustine's Church Hall, 
Almond Street, Derby on 13th to 15th June 1963. The way in which the revue was received 
was gratifying, as it proved that in spite of the unsettled conditions, and the difficulties under 
which it was operating, the Society had not lost its ability to put on first class shows.
It was during October, 1963 when the Executive Committee were making enquiries as to the 
possibility of using either:
The Wilkins Memorial Hall, Becket Street, Derby
St. Thomas' Church Hall
Queen's Hall, London Road, Derby or
Dairyhouse Road Methodist Church Hall
as a permanent home, that the Society were offered rehearsal facilities at Dairyhouse Road 
Methodist Church Hall. The offer was accepted although putting on shows there was out of the 
question, too much work needing to take place on the stage, lighting etc. to make it suitable.

The pantomime scheduled for 1964 was to have been "Babes in the Wood" by Chris Palin 
but on the 16th February 1964, Mr. F. Tomlinson resigned as Producer and from the Society,
 and the Executive Committee could not find anyone to replace him at such short notice as
rehearsals had been running for some time.

As an alternative to "Babes in the Wood" it was decided to produce "REVUE '64" and this was
 performed at St. Augustine's Church Hall on 18th to 21st February 1964.
 Needless to say it was a huge success,spurring the Society on to produce a further revue
 "Review 64 ½" put on again at St. Augustine's Church Hall on 28th to 31st October 1964. 
Once again the local press and general public alike, hailed it as a success.
It was on 6th April 1964, that what was classed as the 1st Annual General Meeting of the Society
 was held in the Dairyhouse Road Methodist Church Schoolroom, when Mr. H. O. Lloyd was
unanimously re-elected as Chairman,  Mr.G.E. Bingley Honorary Secretary,  Mr. L.Pipes
 Honorary Treasurer, Mr G. Pallett Producer and Mr D. Scott-Savage Musical Director,
 the two latter gentlemen being responsible for the production of
 "REVUE'64" and "REVUE 64½".
February 1965 saw the production of the pantomime "Aladdin"
by Frank Wilcock and Robert Rutherford and it played to near capacity audiences
at St. Augustine's Church Hall on 17th to 20th February.

This production was also given an excellent write up by the press and thoroughly
enjoyed by the general public.