Wallace Edge the 1930s and 1940s

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Wallace Edge died aged 87 in 2003. He was a teacher, poet and artist. He was a member of Quest, the group for gay Catholics. He was interviewed in 2000 as part of the local lesbian and gay history project produced for Nottinghamshire Living History Archives. Click on the buttons to hear the recordings.

Wallace was also interviewed for an early edition of QB. Below you can read part of the interview.

What places were there for people to meet in Nottingham?

There was the George Hotel, the Black Boy opposite the Council House (where Primark is now), the Peach Tree (now Langtrys) with its theatrical crowd and the County Hotel. All had what were called "gentlemen's bars", where "gentlemen used to meet.

If you didn't go to the pubs, how did you get to meet people?

Through friends and invites to private parties in people's homes - you could have up to 40 other people there. I do remember going to a huge party held in Derby at the home of a well-known furniture manufacturer, which turned out to be outrageous.

How would you describe that period - looking back from 1999?

It used to be called the "twilight world", especially in the papers and blackmail was rife. I could never get used to the idea that you could have a permanent relationship - it was all one night stands. During the blackouts in World War 2, there were some compensations; I once met a Canadian commander in the English forces and we had an enjoyable time on the steps of what was the Prudential building between King Street and Queen Street - it was pitch black.

Do you remember meeting anyone famous from that time?

The only really famous person was the Duke of Kent. I think it was about 1940 and he was visiting the Black Boy. I suppose I can boast that I stood next to the Duke in the loo.

Are there any special characters you remember?

"Nelly Wallace" was a musical hall comedian from Nottingham, who got caught in a club in London when it was raided by the police - he used to be the talk of the pubs. I remeber drag balls at the Palais when all the queens turned up: "Tallulah", who was a barman at the Gleaners in Calverton and sang in basso profundo; "Brenda the Bread-Hag" who drove Co-op bread carts; "Bumface" and "Handbag Annie".

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