History of the WMA
The Wessex Magical Association was formed in October 1932 in Gatti's restaurant, Bournemouth, a venue that was to remain its headquarters for some years. Rex Gatti, the restaurant's proprietor, was the WMA's first Treasurer. The Great Nixon, who owned Nixon's Magical Depot, Bournemouth's first shop to deal exclusively in magical equipment, was the first Secretary. For many years Rex Gatti remarkably held the posts of both Secretary and Treasurer.
The original aims of the Association were "to bring together people with an interest in magic and afford them opportunities for discussion and demonstration of their skills", aims that were encouraged by having Jasper Maskelyne, master illusionist and WW2 'War Magician', as the first WMA President.
The society later met in Bournemouth's Grand Hotel, and after that in The Devonshire Hotel. During the war years, meetings took place at the home of one of the members, and many shows were staged to boost Bournemouth's morale. Several members also entertained overseas with ENSA.
The association has always recognised ladies: a magicienne was among the original ten members. During its long history the WMA has had several lady Secretaries and lady Presidents. In recent years, like Rex Gatti, Joan Wright has held the posts of both Secretary and President.
Past and present membership lists are a Who's Who of magic. They include such names as:-
- Jasper Maskelyne
- Purported to have been involved with WW2 camouflaging (link to video);
- Douglas Craggs
- Royal ventriloquist and a past secretary of The Magic Circle;
- Geoffrey Groves
- Chris Woodward
- Jon Brett and Michelle
- The first to present a magic act on television's New Faces;
- Jack Blake
- Who performed before the Royal Family and is the inventor of the Six Silk Repeat trick;
- Percy Bee
- John Liautard
- Who was also one of the longest serving members of The Magic Circle, from 1920 until his death at the age of 90 in 1986;
- Jim Breedon
- Author of Rub The Lamp;
- Fred Castle
- Whose picture hangs in Hollywood's Magic Castle;
- Marc Paul
- Voted the World's Great Mind-Reader by his peers at the World Magic Awards in Los Angeles.
The present membership of about 60 consists of full-time and part-time professionals and devoted amateurs for whom magic is a hobby. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30pm. Visiting magicians are very welcome and should contact the Secretary for details.