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K. Scott-Barrie’s The Upper Ten, an English concert party, circa 1912

February 28, 2014

The Upper Ten, an English concert party organized and headed by the actor and entertainer Kemsley Scott-Barrie (seated, right, on piano); other members of the group included Leslie Barker (back, left) and Mamie Watson (back, right)
(photo: Donald Massey, Bognor, Sussex, probably 1912)

‘The Upper Ten, who describe themselves as the ”merry and bright” concert party, are living up to this description at the Alexandra Palace Summer Pavilion this week, where their two shows a day are being well supported. Mr. K. Scott-Barrie, who heads the combination, is, of course, well-known to our readers, and his effervescent humour permeates the programme. Indeed, if we may criticise, we would suggest thet he need not interfere quite so much during other turns, but give the artists a chance to show their own merits. Miss Peggy Rae [i.e. Peg Ray, mother of Peter Sellers], Miss Mamie Watson, Miss Lillian Collard, Miss Madge Carr, and Miss Louie Milne [mother of Jimmy Campbell] all display ability in their respective lines, the last-named being a clever pianist, whiles the male members of the company are Mr. Charlie Carr, Mr. Reg Leslie, and Mr. Leslie Barker [(1895-1965) who later worked with Gabrielle Ray]. Some of the actions in the concerted items might be varied more, but, taken as a whole, the entertainment is certainly pleasant and amusing.’
(The Stage, London, Thursday, 6 June 1912, p. 19d)

Kemsley Scott-Barrie, whose real name was Edward Woolhouse, was born in 1883 in Leeds, Yorkshire, one of the children of Arthur Woolhouse, a joiner, and his second wife Sarah Ann (née Cousins), and baptised at the church of St. John the Baptist in that city on 13 April 1884. Originally an apprentice bricklayer, he became a professional entertainer in his early 20s. His relatively short career lasted from 1906 until enlisting during the First World War, attaining the rank of Corporal in the Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment). He appeared in pantomime and on the music hall stage but became particularly identified with his concert party work. He died on 6 October 1918 of wounds received in action, a little over a month before the end of hostilities. He is buried at Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, near Dieppe, northern France. (For further information, see The Stage, London, Thursday, 12 November 1998, p. 10)

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