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THM/293 - Tom Kirby Walls and Tom Kenneth Walls Collection
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Tom Kirby Walls and Tom Kenneth Walls Collection

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This material is held at V&A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293
Dates of Creation 1922-1985
Name of Creator Walls Family - Tom Kirby Walls and Tom Kenneth Walls
Language of Material English
Physical Description 2 boxes, 28 files

Scope and Content

This collection contains items regarding the theatre and film career of Tom Kirby Walls. It contains scripts, photographs, musical manuscripts, personal letteres and press cuttings of his performances.

The Collection also contains some details of Tom Kenneth Walls, his son, in particular personal letters from Walls Jnr. to Ralph "Bob" Lynn, a co-star of Walls Snr.

Administrative / Biographical History

TOM KIRBY WALLS (1883 - 1949)

The actor, producer and director was born in Northampton. After a few false starts to his working life, he began a career in the Metropolitan Police. However, shortly after joining he left as he felt drawn to life on the stage. He began his performing career when he joined a seafront pierrot troupe in Brighton. After touring Britain and North America as an actor, he made his first appearance on the London stage at the Empire, Leicester Square in 1907. Between 1912 and 1921 Walls cemented his position in the West End with fourteen musical comedies at eight major theatres.

In 1922, in partnership with Leslie Henson, Walls entered management of the Shaftesbury Theatre. Here they produced the farce Tons of Money, by Will Evans and Valentine (A. T. Pechey). It was a huge success and ran for two years. With the profits Walls and Henson took over the Aldwych. Here, their partnership with the writer, Ben Travers, made him and the 'Aldwych gang' extremely popular in London theatre. Walls acted in all of the Aldwych productions of Travers plays alongside Ralph Lynn, with Mary Brough and Robertson Hare in support.

With his mounting prosperity Walls assumed the management of the Fortune Theatre in 1927, where he staged a number of Frederick Lonsdale's plays.

Many of Walls' successful shows proved profitable subjects to satisfy the great demand for British screen comedy across the empire, and Walls was now lost to the stage for seven years (1931-8). He made his film début with Rookery Nook. After the success of Rookery Nook, Walls went on to make twenty-two films between 1930 and 1938. Seventeen of these were of Travers' plays; nineteen of them Walls directed himself. He made nine films for the British and Dominion studio and ten for Gaumont-British, but for the last in this period, Old Iron, he formed his own company, T.W. Productions.

Late in 1938 Walls returned to the stage, touring variety theatres in The Van Dyke. In 1939 he took over the Alexandra in Stoke Newington, which he ran as a repertory theatre. His last stage appearance was in 1948, in a revival of The Barretts of Wimpole Street, but it was not well received. Deafness hampered his acting in his final years. He returned to the screen in 1943, now often in more serious character roles. His last film was The Interrupted Journey in 1949.

Walls' success on stage and screen allowed him to induldge in his love of horse racing and dog breeding. He maintained a racing stable at his home in Ewell in Surrey, where he set up as a trainer in 1927. He trained a few winners, most notably the Epsom Derby winner in 1932, April the Fifth.

Lack of finance from a mix of high-living and ill fortune caused him to give up training horses in 1948, and he died insolvent 27 November 1949. Many of his effects and his house and stables had to be sold off by his executors.

On 2 February 1910 Walls married Alice Hilda Edwards, also an actress on the musical comedy stage. They had one son, Tom Kenneth Walls.

TOM KENNETH WALLS (1914 - 1992)

Tom Walls Jnr. Served time in the Royal Airforce Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War and continued until he retired having attained the rank of Squadren Leader.

Walls Jnr. rode as a National Hunt jockey on horses trained by his father and for other owners, and rode his own mare Crafty Alice to victory in the Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown Park in 1934.

He was also involved in the threatre and films, though to a far lesser extent than his father. He spent his later life living in Banstead.

Arrangement

The Collection arranged in to two subfonds relating to Tom Kirby Walls and his son Tom Kenneth Walls.

  • THM/293/1 Tom Kirby Walls.
  • THM/293/2 Tom Kenneth Walls.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for consultation in the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance's Reading Room, which is located at Blythe House, 23 Blythe Rd, Olympia, London, W14 0QX. The Reading Room is open Tuesday to Friday between 10.15 am and 4.30 pm. Access to it is by appointment only. To request an appointment please email tmenquiries@vam.ac.uk or telephone 020 7942 2698.

Access to some of these files may be restricted. These are identified at file level.

Conditions Governing Use

Archival material may not be photocopied. Arrangements can be made to photograph material in the reading room using non-flash photography.

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Copley, Clark and Bennett, Solicitors of Sutton per The Old Vic Theatre, London in January 1993, following the death of Tom Kenneth Walls in November 1992.

Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to Tom Kirby Walls, as well as the Aldwych Theatre in general may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.

Cataloguing Info

Title Tom Kirby Walls and Tom Kenneth Walls Collection
Creation Created by intern using the cheshire for archives ead creation tool 2012-02-03

Tom Kirby Walls

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1
Dates of Creation 1922 - 1985
Physical Description 9 folders, 13 loose items, 6 scripts and 1 album

Scope and Content

This collection contains items regarding the theatre and film career of Tom Kirby Walls. It contains scripts, photographs, musical manuscripts, personal letters and press cuttings of his personal and professional life.

Arrangement

This sub-fonds has been divided in to the following series:

  • THM/293/1/1 - Publicity and Marketing Material.
  • THM/293/1/2 - Scripts and Plot summaries.
  • THM/293/1/3 - Music Manuscripts.
  • THM/293/1/4 - Correspondence and other personal papers.
  • THM/293/1/5 - A Cuckoo in the Nest memento.
  • THM/293/1/6 - Photographs of Tom Kirby Walls.

Publicity and marketing material concerning the professional and personal life of Tom Kirby Walls.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1
Dates of Creation 1922 - 1954
Physical Description 16 files

Scope and Content

Files containing press cuttings, reviews, magazine articles and programmes relating to the personal and professional life of Tom Kirby Walls.

Arrangement

This series has been arranged chronologically.


Menu for Tons of Money with autographs.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/1
Dates of Creation 1922
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Decorative card "Menu" from, Tons of Money with a list of various meals and courses from "New Villa-Villa restaurant." Hand written autographs, including Tom Walls and Leslie Henson (partial) who starred in the play. Also the autorgraphs of Will Evans and Arthur Valentine, the writers, and J. Ba[ramins]-Howard and Reginald Highley.

Some autographs are partial as the top of the card has been damaged.


Theatre and Film Illustrated article by Tom Walls

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/2
Dates of Creation February 1930
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

A double sided article entitled "Those who should not be actors. Described by Tom Walls During an Exclusive Interview with Rita Red", in which he gives his opinion on those who try to have a career on the stage. Two black and white photographs included in the article, one presumably Walls, and the other Ralph Lynn "who has been associated with Tom Walls for many years."


Rockery Nook programme

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/3
Dates of Creation 1930s
Physical Description 2 items, Duplicates

Scope and Content

Large, six paged programme for the film version of Ben Travers celebrated "Aldwych farce", Rockery Nook, starring Tom Walls and Ralph Lynn, with two female actors; Mary Brough and Winifred Shotter. Note in front with cast photographs states Tom Walls starred and directed the film. Book contains black and white photographed stills of scenes in the film, reverse contains information on the offices and branches of "W. & F. Film Service LTD."

Cover shows a coloured print of three of the cast members with enlarged faces. Black and white text and images inside


"Six ages of Tom Walls" magazine article.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/4
Dates of Creation ca. 1933
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Article showing black and white photographs of Tom Walls at six stages of his life (18 months, 2 1/2 years, 15 years, 17 years and the main picture which has no information of his age.) Description beneath states Walls as "a member of the famous Aldwych 'gang'… an actor, manager, and producer of plays ; a film actor and director at the same time." Also notes him as a race-horse owner and trainer, including the 1932 Derby winner, April the Fifth.


"Three Walls make a Family Circle" Magazine article from The Sketch

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/5
Dates of Creation April 17 1935
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Page from The Sketch containing four black and white photographs of Tom Walls and/or his family. Including Tom Walls Jr. and Mrs. Tom Walls.


Press cuttings related to T.W. Production LTD. of Old Iron.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/6
Dates of Creation ca. 1938
Physical Description 1 bolted folder

Scope and Content

Bolted folder labelled "T. W. Productions LTD., Old Iron". Contains stuck down newspaper cuttings concerning the film Old Iron and the cast members.


Album of press cuttings relating to Tom Kirby Walls' personal and professional life.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/7
Dates of Creation ca. 1938
Physical Description 1 Album

Scope and Content

Red Leather bound, unlabelled album with stuck down press cuttings relating to Tom Kirby Walls' personal and professional life. Includes reviews of Strange Boarders, Old Iron, Crackerjack, The Van Dyck, His Majesty's Guest and the productions staged by, "Tom Walls' Players".

On inside cover, a label reads - "WOOLGAR & ROBERTS | Press and Cutting Agency | 1, Dorset Buildings, Fleet St., London, E. C. 4".


"General releases for : Second Best Bed : Rookery Nook : Thark etc: Crackerjack."

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/8
Dates of Creation 1938-1939
Physical Description 198 items

Scope and Content

Various sized press cuttings. No dates except on the cutting slip attached to the articles. Most of these date 1938/1939. Also no informtation on which publication the articles came from. Some black and white photographs included on the cuttings


General Newspaper cuttings relating to Tom Kirby Walls

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/9
Dates of Creation 1938-1939
Physical Description 98 items

Scope and Content

Various cuttings with general information on Tom Walls Snr. Mainly concerning his horse racing career. No dates except on the cutting slip attached to the articles. Most of these date 1938/1939. Also no informtation on which publication the articles came from. Some black and white photographs included on the cuttings.


His Majesty's Guest caricature and review

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/10
Dates of Creation Nov 22 1939
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Caricatures from The Tatler depicting Tom Walls in His Majesty's Guest "At the Shaftsbury". Review underneath claims the production "is pleasant and amusing thanks to good character-playing" but also claims "Tom Walls - genial, fruity and bland - changes with neither the years nor his roles." Text by "A.B." and sketch by [Tomitt]


The Bystander review of His Majesty's Guest.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/11
Dates of Creation Nov 22 1939
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Review and sketches of His Majesty's Guest. Slightly scathing review of Mr. Walls; "our expectations are sadly dashed", but it is said that "Mr. Walls is far and away the best actor in this on the whole rather uninspiring cast." Written by Herbert Farjeon, sketches by "Rouson".


Stange Boarders press cuttings

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/12
Dates of Creation ca. 1939
Physical Description 112 items

Scope and Content

Various sized newspaper cuttings of reviews of Strange Boarders, a film starring Tom Kirby Walls and directed by Herbert Mason. No date to the articles except on the cutting slip attached to the article. Also no information on which publication the cuttings came from. Black and white photographs also appear in some cuttings.


Loose cuttings relating to Tom Kirby Walls

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/13
Dates of Creation ca. 1939
Physical Description 6 items

Scope and Content

Various clippings reporting on Tom Kirby Walls, regarding some of the productions that Walls directed, produced and acted in. Also some clippings containing photographs of Tom Kirby Walls and his son at the races and a picture of Walls' Derby winning horse, April the Fifth.

No date on the articles except what is noted on the attached cutting slip. Also no information on which publication the cuttings come from. Black and white photographs also appear in some cuttings.


Press cutting: Tom Walls by Tom Walls

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/14
Dates of Creation Nov 20 1946
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

3 paged self-profile of Tom Kirby Walls from The Tatler and Bystander. With black and white photographs of him as a child, at the racecourse and as a policeman and a black and white reproduction of a character sketch labelled "As 'Simeon Crowther' - His favourite part".


"The Stage Golfing Society 23rd Annual Dinner Programme and Menu."

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/15
Dates of Creation Nov 21 1948
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Decorative paper programme and menu for the 23rd annual dinner of "The Stage Golfing Society. Cover shows caricatures with gold clubs. Held at Savoy Hotel. Inside contains "TOASTS" and "MENU"


Press cuttings regarding the death of Tom Kirby Walls

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/1/16
Dates of Creation ca. 1949
Physical Description 11 items

Scope and Content

Small enevelope with various newspaper cuttings reporting the death of Tom Kirby Walls on 27 November 1949. Some black and white photographs included.


Scripts and plot summaries of productions given to Tom Kirby Walls

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/2
Dates of Creation 1922-1985
Physical Description 6 files

Scope and Content

Scripts and plot structures of plays that were proposed to or taken on by Tom Kirby Walls.


Plot of Dickory Dock by P. Tussaud-Brit.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/293/1/2/1
Dates of Creation Aug 17 1936
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Handwritten exercise book with: "Private and Confidential. Plot of Dickory Dock devised especially for Mr. Tom Walls with the compliments of P. Tussaud-Brit." Includes a black and white photograph, reviews of his achivements and a personal letter from Tussaud-Brit to Tom Kirby Walls.