Towards the end of WW2 a number of local magicians got together and held random meetings, mainly at Eric Bloom’s house. At this time some of the established clubs were trying to form a Federation of Magical Societies. One of their aims was to present shows on or near Halloween. The idea was that all advertising and receipts would be co-ordinated with a common theme going to a common charity. We decided to go along with this scheme and so on Nov.13, 1946 we presented a Night of Magic at the Chorley Wood Memorial Hall. The acts were Eric Bloom, Harry Baron, Wally Gent, John Potter and myself.
The success of this venture led us to arrange for a room at the Spread Eagle in Watford High Street, a pub that is no longer there. The exact date of this meeting is difficult to determine. However, a reference in Abra No. 90 (18 Oct. ’47) shows the Association had already been formed. Another issue No. 126 (26 June ’48) tells of the first Annual General Meeting held on July 14, 1948. Therefore, I am sure that our inaugural meeting was held in the summer of 1947, probably July.
At the meeting Stanley Thomas was elected Chairman and Eric Bloom was our first Secretary/Treasurer. The others present were Joe Jones (E.L.Baffel), Percy Smith, Joe Conn (Zicardi), Wally Gent, John Rose, and myself.
We were fortunate in those early days to have several members who were also members of London clubs and we were able to persuade some well know magicians to come and give us lectures. Peter Warlock was most helpful and came to our meetings several times.
Our fortnightly meetings at the Spread Eagle went along well until one evening we found that the room had been double booked. It seemed that we were no longer welcome because, although we did buy our drinks before going upstairs, once there we were so involved in our magic that we forgot to order more drinks. That evening we met at Stanley Thomas’ furniture shop in the High Street. We found a home at another now defunct pub, the King’s Head, but unfortunately the same thing happened and we had to move on. Finally we found a home at the Old Free School and stayed there for many years.
On 25 April 1949 we held our first Dinner at the Crown, Garston. There were 83 present and the menu was excellent. The entertainment was provided by Geoffrey Buckingham, Frank Boynett, Al Koran, and Tom Harris. Further annual Dinners were held at various venues, but those held at the Town Hall were grand affairs with nearly 200 attending. And yet when the members stood to toast the guests there would be only about twenty standing! We had a lot of friends!
As time went by, we attracted most of the local magicians and we also had members from St. Albans, Hemel Hempstead, Harrow, and Luton. This meant that we could present magical evenings with all the best talent around. We put on several shows at St Mary’s Hall, now an office block. These were free, but we took up a silver collection which swelled the coffers considerably. We also supported the Annual Days of Magic and in October 1947 we put on shows at the Guildhouse, Croxley Green, and Oddfellows Hall, Watford. The programme consisted of myself to open, Harold Moon, Stanley Thomas and his two daughters with their wonderful Chinese act, Doug How, Anthony Norman, Eric Bloom, and John Rose with his living shadows, all compèred by Wally Gent. Encouraged by these shows, we went mad the next year and put on five shows in Bushey, Croxley Green, Kings Langley, and two night at St. Johns Hall, Watford.