The History of Paisley Magic Circle
by Jim Cuthbert
Paisley Magic Circle was formed in September 1938. Originally it took the name of the former Paisley magical club, Paisley Magical Society. It kept this name until 1967. The founder members were Tom Ellis, Watson Black and Wyndham Lee.
The first meeting was held in the YMCA building in the High Street, Paisley. This meeting place lasted a very short time as the YMCA was handed over to the War Office for use during the war years. The first meeting saw Harry Fenton, Alex Gillougley and Malcolm McIntyre joining with the founders. During the war years the club took on the role of a transit club. Many magicians both British and American landed at Glasgow, Greenock and Paisley harbour and were soon making their way to Paisley Magical Society meetings. Despite the rationing there was always tea and magic on the menu. Like the London Windmill the society never closed.
The club moved to many meeting places over the years. These included: Miss Balmford’s home in High Street, Paisley, The Masonic Hall, Ralston, Methodist Hall, Coats Memorial Hall, Coats Memorial Church Hall, Paisley Town Hall and the Boys Brigade H.Q. in Paisley.
Like most other clubs PMS started to present magical shows annually from 1943 and after a long run the members decided to stop in 1963. A few have been organised since then but usually along with some other organisation such as Church groups. The entrance fee is shared with the organising group and the club.
It was the Paisley Club which proposed the formation of The Scottish Association of Magical Societies in 1950 and Max Raskin was invited to carry out all the planning on behalf of the club. A record of this intended meeting with all the magical clubs in Scotland is recorded in the minutes of Perth Magic Circle of 16th May 1950. Max was the first President of SAMS and presented the Max Raskin Cup for children’s magic.
The club organised a one day magical convention in 1979. It was held in Johnstone Town Hall and had lectures by Peter Jeffries and Paul Scott and a gala show with Bill McBrinn, Jimmy Fleming, Les McLean, Freddy Lee, Les & Lynn Paul, Cadabras and Paul Scott. This one day convention was so successful it was repeated annually, remaining a main part of the club’s programme for many years.
The Renfrew District Council have supported the club by providing Civic Receptions for the Fifty and Sixty year celebrations. As part of the fifty year celebrations the council also worked with the club to present the first one month Museum exhibition of magic in Scotland.
The club started its own club magazine in 1997 entitled The Pattern (the Paisley Pattern!). The magazine contains reviews on magical effects, suggested reading, personal best books list, coming events and some history of the club and magicians of the past.
Paisley Magic Circle has honoured many magicians over the years.
Honorary Life Presidents
Harry Fenton, Jimmy Flemming, David Haggarty, Val Le Val, Margaret MacLean and Brian Jeffrey.
Honorary Life Vice Presidents
Peter Allan, Les Levant, John Ramsay, John Cranston, Zina Bennett, Tom Ellis, Harry Fenton, George Birrell, William McDonald, Colin Goodburn and Jim Cuthbert.
Honorary Life Members
Harry Willane, Tom Ellis, Charles Wilson, Tommy Frederick, George Willison, Fred Balme, Bill McBrinn, Adrian Harris, Stuart Leith, Cynthia Neptune, Bill McLeod, Roy Scott, Paul Daniels, Brian Jeffrey, Tommy Templeton, Paul Nardini, Peter McLanachan and Doreen Clark.
The club has provided the magicians of Scotland with a number of magical lecturers. These include Val Le Val, Jim Cuthbert, John McCracken, Colin Goodburn, Peter McLanachan and Jimmy Fleming.
Paisley was one of the six founder members of the Scottish Association of Magical Societies and went on to win many of the SAMS competitions.
Cannon Trophy – Best Magical Society of the Year
1985, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2015 (Shared with Kilmarnock Magic Circle)
Ramsay Rose Bowl – Best magic effect in Close Up
Bill Miller 1985, Nigel McCulloch 1988, Ina Cuthbert 1993, Alan Duncan 1995, Paul Nardini 1997, John Kelly 2000, Amanda Gott 2014, George Speirs 2015, Bily Reid 2019
Anne Warlock Cup – Best act in Close Up
Bill Miller 1985, Alan Duncan 1995, John Kelly 1998 and 2000, Peter McLanachan 2017
Stuart Leith Shield – Runner Up in Close Up
Guillermo Amodeo 2014
Harold McMillan Shield – Best act in Stage
Harry Willane 1961, Secret Service (David Ennis, Brian Jeffrey and Karen Kelly) 1997, Pavneesh Gupta 1999, Afzal Aziz 2013, Afzal Aziz 2014
The Fletcher Cup – Runner Up act in Stage
Hugh Gillies 1969, Hugh Gillies 1977, Brian Jeffrey 1988/89/90, Brian Jeffrey 1992, Paul Nardini 1997, Paul Nardini 1999, Brian Jeffrey 2014, George Speirs 2015, Brian Jeffrey 2016, George Spiers 2019
Max Raskin Cup – Best Act in Children’s Magic
Bill Miller 1985, George Speirs 2015
Murray Wand – For the person showing the most showmanship at the convention
Leslie Melville 1993, Margaret McLean 1991, Afzal Aziz 2013, Afzal Aziz 2014
Ian Adair Award – For the person showing most originality in the competitions
Peter McLanachan 2017
Craig Quaich – Presented by the SAMS President who in their opinion has done the most for Scottish Magic
Ina Cuthbert 1992, David Haggarty 1999, Peter McLanachan 2017, Billy Reid 2019
Presidents of SAMS
Jim Cuthbert, Jim Fleming, David Haggarty, Brian Jeffrey, Robert Lees, Max Raskin (3 times), Val LeVal, Margaret Maclean, David Ennis and George Spiers