Blackpool Magicians’ Club was formed in April 1941. One of the founder members was Paul Clive, the Blackpool magic dealer who had 2 ‘Witchcraft’ magic shops – he also owned a warehouse in Blackpool. Paul Clive wrote ‘Card Tricks Without Skill’ and his brother, Douglas Craggs wrote ‘The A.B.C of Ventriloquism’ He was also well known at the Magic Circle in London. Paul went on to live in the USA, later returning to Blackpool.
The club was first known as the ‘North West Magicians’ Club’ but approximately 10 years later in February 1951; the name was altered to ‘Blackpool Magic Circle’. Sometime later the Magic Circle in London wrote to all other clubs using the title of ‘Magic Circle’ in their name and asked them if they would change it.
So, once again, Blackpool changed their name to that which it is today… BLACKPOOL MAGICIANS’ CLUB.
Edward Victor was the clubs first Honorary Life President. He was a royal command performer who specialised in sleight of hand and shadowgraphs. Author of ‘Magic of the Hands’, he visited the club whenever he played Blackpool. Peter Warlock was asked to accept the Honorary Life Presidency after the death of Edward Victor. After the death of Peter Warlock, well known star comedian, Ken Dodd OBE was invited to accept the position of Honorary Life President and always wears the insignia when performing a ‘spot’ every year at the convention.
The club has had many well known names as Honorary Life Vice Presidents including the late Jack Kinson who is remembered for his famous ‘Kinsons Flying Record’ trick sold by many magic dealers in the 50’s and 60’s. Billy O’Connor (and his 52 assistants). Fred Brezin and Kardoma (fills the stage with flags). The late Charles Fitness – well known magic dealer and Murray the famous escapologist were also Honorary Life Presidents for a number of years along with ‘little’ Harry Dewhirst who was a Convention Organiser for many years.
Honorary Life Vice Presidents are limited to 3 and currently the positions are held by Bill Lamb, Tom Owen and Mark Raffles.
Honorary members have included the late Colonel Edward Graves who wrote a column in the ‘Worlds Fair’ for many years, the late Jack Shaw, originator of the ‘The Wychwoods’, the late Will Dexter author of ‘The Riddle of Chung Ling Soo’ and many other books. Current Honorary Life Members are Bev Bergeron of the USA, Lance Burton, David Copperfield, Siegfried & Roy, Derek Lever, Ian Ogilvy, John Hardman & Brian Sefton.
Johnny Hart, a former member of the Blackpool Magicians’ Club began his magical career by winning one of our competitions, then going on to win the Magic Circles ‘Young Magician of the Year’ competition. The current club badge was designed by Bill Lamb, who used the design on the front cover of the book ‘Tricks & illusions’ by Will Goldston, who visited the club in August 1942 and donated some books so that the club could start a library. The world famous Convention has been run by Blackpool Magicians’ Club since 1952, and in 2012 Blackpool Magicians’ Club will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the World Famous Blackpool Magic Convention. The same year Blackpool will host the FISM 2012 World Championships of Magic.
Previous magic convention organisers have been Harry Dewhirst, Bill Lamb, Tom Owen, Steve Eastham, Ian Ogilvy and Derek Lever. The convention is now organised by a small team of members each with their own roles and skill sets. The convention was for many years operated for the one day only at the Casino at the Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Then as it grew larger it was moved to the Winter gardens. In 1986 Derek Lever originated ‘The British Magical Championships’ and the first event was held on the Saturday night in the Horseshoe Show bar at the casino. The Grand Prix winner was none other than Blackpool Magicians’ Club Past President, Mark Raffles. In recent years the championships has expanded so much it now takes place in the 3,000 seater Opera House and the British Magical Close-up Championships takes place on the Friday evening, making the convention an exciting weekend, instead of just one day.
Despite having only around 45 members the Blackpool Magicians’ Club manage to host the world’s largest Magic festival every February when nearly 3,500 magicians from all over the world are thoroughly entertained for 3 days by international magic stars in the Opera House and Winter Gardens. A remarkable achievement and long may it continue.
In July 2012 Blackpool Magicians’ Club hosted the FISM World Championships of Magic.