Bradford based poet and showman Glyn Watkins presents a show celebrating the birthday of the Bradford born writer J.B.Priestley, his work, a meat, and potato pie that defied Hitler that he made famous, and a city that defies the odds.

It is being presented at the Gumption Centre, on 13th September at 7.30 pm.

Tickets for the show are £4 in advance from the Gumption Centre, Bradford BD5 0BQ – 01274 241111, or £5 on the door.

Pie and peas will be available, including meat and potato and vegetarian pies. 

The show features readings from Priestley favourites such as: When We Are Married, and The Good Companions as well as stories about his life and home town of Bradford, accompanied by pictures.

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Priestley was born in 1894, on Mannheim Road in Manningham, Bradford. He became one of the 20th Century’s most successful authors and playwrights, and during the early years of World War II his broadcasts to the nation did much to help morale. 

One of the most famous broadcasts was about Robert’s, a Bradford meat and potato pie and peas shop, famous for having an enormous pie in the window that steamed every hour the shop was open: ‘…a perpetual volcano of a meat and potato pie.’ 

Priestley had been told the shop had been destroyed in an air raid. He  came home to see for himself in September 1940, intending to write an elegy to the lost pie, but to his delight he found it had survived to steam again:

 ‘Every puff and jet of steam defied Hitler, Goering and the whole gang of them. It was glorious.’

Glyn had the idea to celebrate Priestley’s birthday with readings and a meat and potato pie supper in the early 90’s, both because he is a fan of Priestley, and because he has the same birthday. As he has said: 

I get to perform the work of my favourite writer: tell stories; show pictures; celebrate the great British pie; eat pie; and get people to pay to come to my birthday as well!

Since then he has celebrated this great occasion in Bradford, London and last year in Lewes, Sussex. At each place he walks around the town with a big pie to advertise the event, claiming that there is nothing like a pie to get people talking.

This year Glyn is linking the show to the Positive Bradford day on 28th September, and including more stories and pictures about Bradford’s history, especially the area around the bottom of Little Horton Lane, the site of Gumption Centre, at Glyde House. 

Priestley would have known the area very well, as he was a regular at the 4 theatres that once stood close by, especially the Prince’s Theatre, which stood almost opposite the Sunday School that became Glyde House. Priestley later premiered 4 of his plays at the Palace.

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