Today we pay tribute to a man who for many years was ‘centre stage’ in many amateur dramatic shows, here on South Tyneside and further afield.
He was Peter Charlton, who died recently at the age of 89.
As a leading man, he took the starring role in a wide range of lavish productions for the South Shields Gilbert & Sullivan Operatic Society, the South Shields Amateur Operatic Society, and others.
His sister-in-law Sheila Rainbow said Peter was born in 1929 in Singapore, where his father was serving as a sergeant in the Royal Artillery.
The youngest of four children, he and his family moved back to South Shields around 1933-34, when his father left the Army.
“Peter always said he ‘learned to sing at his father’s knee’,” said Sheila.
“When he left school, he got a joinery apprenticeship with Milton Swales (builder). His national service was deferred until he finished that apprenticeship.
“He then joined the Coldstream Guards for five years, serving in Egypt and Germany.
“After leaving the Army, he worked for the railway repair shop at Simonside until he retired.”
Peter was a member of the Territorial Army, serving with them for many years.
He married his wife Shirley in February 1957, and they enjoyed many holidays abroad, and loved fishing and walking in Scotland.
Peter, who was an able sportsman, won trophies for soccer, 10-pin bowling and fishing, and was a particularly keen footballer, during his teens and 20s, playing for TDE, “but a broken leg (during a match) put paid to that”.
“His singing interests centered around the G&S Society, South Shields Amateurs, West End (Newcastle) Operatic and Dramatic Society and the Whitley Bay Operatic society.
“Peter’s shows in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s were Irene, Cabaret, Showboat, Annie Get Your Gun, Calamity Jane, Student Prince, South Pacific, Paint Your Wagon, Camelot, Hans Anderson, Kiss Me Kate, Merry Widow, My Fair Lady, Gi-Gi, Desert Song, Fiddler On the Roof, 7 Brides, Guys and Dolls, also Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, but I’m not sure which ones.”
Peter lived in Harton Grange Care Home for the last 18 months of his life.
Tomorrow we feature more tributes to and photos of this much-missed and talented man.