A SHORT HISTORY OF MEMS
By Len Wilkinson - President
The year was 1967. The venue~ he Marconi Club in Chelmsford. The event was a stage of the British pre snooker Championship. During the interval, cabaret was provided by a young (ish) magician operating under the name of Marco the Mystic. In the audience was another magician named Ray Cooper. He introduced himself and found out that Marco’s real name was Len Wilkinson. Ray said that he was thinking of forming a magical society in Chelmsford and they agreed to keep in touch.
Jump ten years to 1977. A friend of Ray’s wife said that there was a magician in her office and it turned out to be Marco! The spark had been rekindled!
Ray rang Len to see if he was still interested in forming a society and by an amazing coincidence, Len had taken a call that very week from a Mr Keith Charley in Witham suggesting the self same thing! They all agreed to meet at Len’s house on 6th April 1977.
The seven who attended that first meeting were:
Jimmy Williamson – Chairman
Jack Strong – Public Relations Office
Keith Charnley – Secretary
Kevin Law (junior member)
These gentlemen were installed as Found Members and were called ‘The Committee’. Provisional rules were agreed upon and the committee also decided upon a title – hereinafter called
‘The Mid Essex Magical Society’ (M.E.M.S.)
So, after a ten year gestation period MEMS was born. At Len’s house each performed a couple of tricks and formulated the constitution of the Society.
At the second meeting in May, subs were introduced. Two pounds a year and one pound to join. They continued to meet at member’s homes until September that year when they moved to Spring Lodge at Witham. Also in September two new members joined, Colin Wade and Gareth Massey. They worked at St. John’s Hospital and asked us if the club could do a show at the hospital.
It was decided to present a full evenings magic show which was to be the first ever MEMS show. Members who performed were Colin Wade (who with Wendy became Colinski & Flame), Keith Charnley (later known as Keith the Thief), Ray Cooper, Len Wilkinson, Jim Sinclair, Kevin Law and a new member Simon Lovell. Gareth Massey acted as compere.
Gareth later arranged lectures by some of the top names in the business and organised our first MEMS diner. The MEMS magazine was also Gareth’s brainchild.
Steve Kliskey & Lenny Blease joined soon after. Of the original seven Jimmy Williamson and Jack Strong have died, the whereabouts of Des Thirkettle and Kevin Law are unknown. Sadly Gareth Massey and Lenny Blease are no longer with us.
After Gareth, Ken Pumphrey took over as Secretary, Treasurer and also edited the MEMS magazine. After Ken moved to Scotland, George Key took over as Secretary and our weekly get togethers started at the pub!
Over the years membership of MEMS has fluctuated but with Michael Alderman at the helm, it looks good for the future of MEMS.