Groundlings Theatre hosts festival in tribute of umbrella inventor

John Morgan (as 'Algernon Entwhistle Sm)ythe') salutes Jonas Hanway 
Picture:  Mick Young 
(1161070-01

John Morgan (as 'Algernon Entwhistle Sm)ythe') salutes Jonas Hanway Picture: Mick Young (1161070-01

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  • Groundlings theatre host sixth annual festival in tribute of Jonas Hanway
  • He invented the umbrella in the 18th century
  • Actors, artists and singers all performed
  • Numbers who attended were believed to be almost 2000 people
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HUNDREDS flocked through the doors of a theatre to celebrate the life of the man who invented the umbrella.

Groundlings Theatre, in Portsea, hosted their annual festival in tribute of Jonas Hanway, the man who created the umbrella and was born on the site of the theatre.

Little Princesses Isla Kelley, eight, and Tayla-Mai Bouche-Carter, seven, enjoying the day

Little Princesses Isla Kelley, eight, and Tayla-Mai Bouche-Carter, seven, enjoying the day

Musicians, dancers, actors and artists were on hand to entertain those who attended, as well as craft stalls selling hand made items, and organisers estimated between 1,500 and 2,000 people went through the doors.

Richard Stride, artist director at Groundlings, said: ‘This is a way to celebrate the life of Jonas Hanway who was born on this site.

‘As he invented the umbrella, we thought we would celebrate by putting everything under one roof and have a festival and this is our sixth year doing so.

‘Jonas Hanway brought back the idea of an umbrella from Persia where they used them as parasols to keep the sun off them.

‘This is a way to celebrate the life of Jonas Hanway who was born on this very site.

Richard Stride

‘He created the mechanism to open them and originally it was about six foot wide, as well inventing the hooks for sweeps to climb down chimneys.

‘People used to mock him at first when using an umbrella. It was when Queen Victoria starting using one that it started to click on and that’s why she opened up our event today.

‘It’s a wonderful event that has grown over the years. We’ve got over 200 performers this year and it’s a place where they can showcase their skills.

‘It also gives them an opportunity to speak with others, which can lead to future collaborations between them.’

Musicians entertain the visitors (161070-04)

Musicians entertain the visitors (161070-04)

Elizabeth Rands dressed up as Queen Victoria to kick off the event.

She said: ‘This festival has got bigger over the years since we started it and it is good that people from around the area are getting involved.’

Singer Dudley Merdith, who goes by the stage name Pedro R, said: ‘It’s great to see the kids here enjoying themselves.

‘This is now my HQ so I like to support everyone who also is involved in projects at Groundlings and it’s surprising just how many new people you get to know.

‘I have quiet a stressful job so this is my way of winding down and relaxing.

‘Everyone here is a volunteer today and it is great that the event is being put on as a lot of work gets put in.’

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