Meeting Room, The Packet Steamer, Northern Perimeter Rd, Netherton, Merseyside L30 7PT
Members Please check your email for invitations link.
President: Matteo Borrini
President Elect: Matteo Borrini
Immediate Past President: Michael Diamond
Secretary: Rick Tynan
Treasurer: Orpheus Stefanakis
Council: Gary Butler, Matt Gill, Carol Tynan, Matthew Redmond, John Parry
Orbit Editor: Greg Howard
Archivist: Jemma Tynan
Auditor: David Batty & Greg Howard
Website Admin: Mark Roberts, Carol Tynan
Early in 1915, when the First World War was gaining momentum in Europe, the Northern Magical Society staged an evening’s performance in the Hardman Hall in Liverpool. In the audience was someone who was destined to become one of our founder members, LORIEN GRAY. Coincidentally, the top performer, CHRIS VAN BERN, was appearing twice nightly at the Liverpool Empire, and the secretary of the Northern, Professor J Meadows, brought him along to the Hall between houses. After the show, whilst waiting to see Professor Meadows, Lorien heard raised voices and it became apparent that the Council of the Northern Society had taken exception to the Professor incurring taxi expenses to get Chris from and back to the Empire theatre, without their collective permission. This resulted in the Professor’s immediate resignation from the Society.
Very shortly afterwards, Professor Meadows organised a meeting with the intention of forming a new society. Lorien Grey was invited, as were Carl Du Verne, Will Melvey, Van Dyke, Victor Mayville and several others. They agreed to form the Mahatma Circle of Magicians and the inaugural meeting was held on the 3rd March, 1915, in Bootle, one of the outskirts of Liverpool. Chris van Bern was elected the first President and the Society was soon meeting on a regular basis at venues in the centre of the city.
We do not have many details of what went on until the beginning of the Second World War, because the "Goat" Hotel, the then headquarters, was completely destroyed by bombs in the May blitz of 1941 and all the Society’s records, library, trophies etc., were lost forever. However, we do know that early members included Oscar Paulson, Fred Lowe, Louis Histed, Edward Victor and Jack Potter.
In 1933, Oscar Paulson won the popular "BULLETS" word competition in the "John Bull" magazine and, with his prize money, he bought and presented to the Society the "Oscar Paulson Cup", to be awarded in annual competition for the most entertaining act. We still hold this competition to this day. In the same year, Lorian Gray was elected an Honorary Life Member.
During 1941, Edward Victor was elected an Honorary Vice President and Carl Du Verne died in office was President.
At this time meetings were held twice monthly and in May 1946 the Council agreed, for the first time, to invite outside magicians to give lectures – for a fee! The first to appear was Graham Adams, who refused to accept any money, but was presented with a fountain pen. At about the same time, the Council decided to send reports of meetings to a new magical magazine called "ABRACADABRA". A further innovation during this period was the development of social visits between other Societies, including Southport, Blackburn and the Order of the Magi in Manchester.
New members were required to perform, as part of the requirements for election, for the first time in 1947. In the latter part of the year, the Lord Mayor attended our Annual Show at Crane Hall. Jim Thomas topped the bill. In May 1948, Harry Stanley gave a "UNIQUE" dealer-demonstration. In February 1953, a coach was arranged to transport members to the first ever one-day Convention in Blackpool. This practice continued for many years thereafter.
In many Council meetings there were discussions about the repair and sale of the Society’s piano (at that time we also owned our own stage, curtains and lighting). In the minutes of the meeting held on the 14th January 1956, it is recorded: "The piano is still on the table" – where it remained until the following May – and it has not been mentioned since. A mysterious vanish indeed!
During 1954 there were lectures by Geoffrey Buckingham and Alan Kennaugh. Lapel badges were available for the first time and Cecil Heygate presented a magnificent shield to be awarded annually to the winner of an "Originality" competition. Each month there was a raffle for the "Trick of the Month" to raise funds for the Society; these prizes of course were regular dealers’ items of that era. In this year our first lady member, Miss Margaret Watts, was accepted into the Circle. In August 1954, the Liverpool Magic Circle was formed in direct competition to the Mahatma Circle of Magicians. For thirteen years, like the football teams and the cathedrals, the two flourished side by side, the Mahatma having the older, more experienced complement and the Liverpool MC consisting mostly of the younger generation. Bill Thompson (The House of Secrets) and Ray Dyson donated "The Raybill Trophy" to be awarded annually for the most entertaining act.
In 1966 it was agreed that magic in general would be better served by the amalgamation of the two Societies and this took place on the 1st January 1967, assuming the new name of "MAHATMA MAGIC CIRCLE". For the first year there were joint presidents, Derek Jones (DELVANTE) from Liverpool, and Norman Nava from Mahatma. Membership remained at about sixty, including three ladies.
Over recent years, lecturers and guests have included Aldo Colombini, Jay Scott Berry, Harry Allen, Mark Raffles, Dan Garrett, John Bannon, Bill Goldman, Daryl and Michael Ammar – amongst a host of others. Many events were arranged by Paul Stone, who has been a leading light in our Circle for many years and former winner of the Tom Harris Trophy for Comedy (twice) and the IBM Convention Cup for Originality.
In earlier years, BOB OSTIN won the Micro-magic award, Oscar Paulson was the President of the IBM and more recently TAROT (Brian Farron) won the British Magical Championship for Illusion, all keeping the name of MAHATMA to the forefront.
Our members were involved in the first ever "MAGICTHON", a name coined by Paul Stone. In this, our sixteen hour non-stop magic show, we raised well over £2,000 for the Guide Dogs for the Blind fund; two years later a repeat performance resulted in a similar sum going to the local RNLI funds.
Today we regularly perform on a 50/50 basis for local groups, raising money for various causes and of course adding to our own coffers.
We compete for the PAULSON CUP and RAYBILL TROPHY (first and second award), the HEYGATE SHIELD (close up), the CHALLENGE TROPHY (a different theme each year), and the TEX TROPHY, presented by John and Julie Dixon to the best newcomer. In addition, the AUSTIN WAND is presented each year to the person who has contributed most to the Circle during the year. This is to honour the memory of the late Austin Mitchell, who, as president, secretary and treasurer over a period of thirty-five years, succeeding in keeping the Circle together through the difficult times of the war.
As with our 75th and 85th events, Paul Stone was again instrumental in ensuring our 90th birthday celebrations were really top class - with a gala dinner and one day convention, which was free to members. International stars of magic included Jeff Hobson, Rocco, Gaetan Bloom, and Eugene Burger. Paul continues to organise marvellous, high quality magical happenings such as the Tribute to Siegrfied and Roy at the London Palladium, where Paul's MagiCares charity was founded, and the Innovention 2010 in Las Vegas.
We celebrated our Centenary with a series of excellent meetings, star lectures, special events and good friendship. We look forward to the next 100 years!