Friday, 4 March 2011

Archibald Graham Petter

Archibald Graham Petter was born in September 1886 Lewisham.
Son of Frederick Charles Petter 
He married Barbara Vlieland Peel in February 1943, as his second wife.
His first wife was Violet E.Howard he married in 1911 in Edmonton.

he died at the age of 79 in Brighton.
 census 1891

census 1901

census 1911

Barbara Vlieland Peel was Frances Maude's Vlieland and Reginalds Peel second surviving child,born in Sirwi in November 1911.
The Petter name is a very old one: known in Europe among the Huguenots (cf. Pierre, Prêtre) and Dutch in the 16th century and in England as far back as the Anglo-Saxons: one legend is that part of the family came to England to escape religious persecution. There are Petters in Scandinavia and America, and a large cluster in North Devon. Archibald was born in 1886 in Lewisham but spent most of his childhood around Edmonton in North London one of thirteen children.His mother Elizabeth(b.1851)
died, aged 91, two weeks before Archie’s marriage to Barbara).Nothing is known of his father except that one of his elder brothers was involved in the foundation of Petter Engines (now Lister-Petter), a major South West England engineering company.
Most of Archie`s siblings were sisters ,but one brother traded furs for the Hudson’s Bay Company; and another was killed on stage when a bomb fell on a London music hall during the First World War. As Archie Graham, he was a child actor in the 1890s and a jeun premier (young leading man) before 1910, in melodramas such as William Gillette’s Sherlock Holmes (London premiere, 1899)
and W.W. Jacobs’ The Monkey’s Paw (London premiere, 1903) – he kept for many years a moth-eaten rabbit’s foot as a prop from that show – and developed a variety act on the music halls before the First World War. Unable to fight in 1914 because of poor eyesight he became a troop entertainer in England and France. After the war he rose in the ranks of variety performers, topping the bill in music halls such as the Argyll Theatre, Birkenhead, writing his own material and playing the piano for his own songs – 6 ft tall and 20 stone in his maturity he was a dominant stage presence, with a fine speaking and singing voice. Even near the top, however, it was a grinding life, especially in the winter: travelling to another northern or north-western English town and into cheap new lodgings every Saturday morning, and if you did not wow the audience (in the depressed 1920s, people trying to get out of the rain or away from a wife and children they could not afford to feed) in the Saturday matinee/Saturday night performance, word would get round the town and you would play to half-empty houses on Monday–Friday with poor takings at the end of the week. The audiences were vocal in disapproval, and would demonstrate physically – the old musical hall saying was: ‘If they throw eggs in Wigan, it may only be tomatoes in Warrington’! Summers were better, at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, the de La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, or the White Rock Theatre, Hastings. The latter town set up a Winkle Club in 1900 to do charitable work and Archie was a leading light – as he was in the Magic Circle (several of his acts, such as ‘The Great Karma’ involved magic and illusionism) and the Variety Club of Great Britain. His stage partner and first wife, Marion Watters, originally a singer/soubrette, was dying of TB by the late 1920s so they went as shipboard entertainers on the White Star line (particularly the ‘Ausonia’) until her death in 1930.
We found her on the shipslist of Ellis Island on the Vaterland in 1914 as a 21 year old and married from Berton Halls Cambridge.
After work with the infant BBC on Station 2LO in Savoy Hill, London, he did childrens’ radio in Australia, South Africa and India until 1939. He was Uncle Archie .

In the Second World War he went back on stage for ENSA (the Entertainment National Services Association: as the acts were often weak, the troops renamed it ‘Every Night Something Awful’) as an entertainer and as a ‘Dispensable’ ...
He was Archie in Archie and Wattie and they toured Australia and New Zealand .

He opened an actors’ lodging house in Hastings Old Town in 1945,

 but the world was changing in the face of competition from cinema and the business failed. Like many actors, he adored Brighton and bought a home there in 1950, although for ten years he partnered Barbara as chef to her matron in a succession of homes for the elderly or girls’ boarding schools. He died of cancer in 1964.
Thanks for all this information to Barbara!
Here all newspaper clippings of Archie and Wattie

departure from Southampton to South Africa 25 June 1920.

and back
About the Petter Engines we found this information.
1865 James Bazeley Petter received the ironmongery firm Harman and Gillett in Yeovil as a wedding present from his father.
He later acquired the Yeovil Foundry and Engineering Works.
Had premises in the Borough, Yeovil.
It was there that two of his children, the twins Ernest and Percival, designed and built a self propelled oil engine in 1892[1].
1895 Percival became manager of the foundry. He developed an interest in the horseless carriage[2].
1897 The twins continued to develop vehicles, the twelfth of which they entered to a competition at Crystal Palace in 1897, without success. Sometime used the name of Yeovil Motor Carriage Co. Failing to achieve the commercial success that they hoped, they adapted the engines for agricultural and industrial use.
The Courier-Mail Saturday 5 March 1949 >
In the newspaper the search for the missing Guy petter.
A 76-year-old inventor, Guy Petter, who lived a quarter of a mile from the house in Kensington where the McSwan's are believed to have been killed.
He has been missing since October.
His son, a Surrey doctor said: "Father's disappearance soon after visiting me.
I do not believe he wandered off 'into the Blue' as was suggested at the time.

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