The first social event organised by the Tenants was held in Gordon School in December 1915 – how quickly the tenants were putting into practice their aims! The newspaper accounts of this evening and the one the following year offer glimpses into the talents of the residents and the manner in which they enjoyed themselves.
Music, dance and game playing feature among the entertainments for the evening for adults (downstairs) and children (upstairs). The latest dance was the two-step and we can imagine that being danced enthusiastically, but does anyone now know how to do it? Perhaps someone can demonstrate!
Amongst a number of names, two stand out: Mrs Elizabeth Stollery sang and Miss Olive Stollery her daughter sang and ‘officiated at’ the piano. Mrs Stollery was a sixty year old widow who may have had links with the estate because her eldest son, Henry Alexander was living at 68 Arsenal Road with his wife Blanche. (In 1911 Henry had been a clerk living in Plumstead working for the government and may have worked at the Arsenal in this role.) Olive her daughter would have been about 20 and might still have been living with her mother.
With the musical background we can imagine a piano in their home, either rented for 1/6 a week from Redman’s of 27, Plumstead Road, or owned outright. Perhaps there was a tradition of musical evenings in the family. A family memory from her nephew recalls that Olive had her own piano when married and that there were family musical evenings. In fact Olive also played the violin and the nephew also said that she was to the lead violinist at the Royal Artillery Theatre. It would be wonderful to find Olive’s name on a programme for the Theatre.