International man of mystery?
We left Ian Vogler as manager of the Little Theatre Nottingham in January 1947, he is next found as manager of the newly built Civic Theatre in Chesterfield (now known as the Pomegranate Theatre).
Civic Theatre, Chesterfield
Ian was appointed Manager of the new Civic Theatre, Chesterfield in November 1948 from over 120 applicants. He was widely praised for his energy and enthusiasm in making the first season a success.
The theatre opened on the 19th of February 1949 with “See How They Run”. Ian seems to have enjoyed his time in Chesterfield, with The Stage reporting that:
However, by the beginning of 1950 the situation at the theatre had changed and Ian Vogler resigned following the departure of 9 other members of the company and staff. The circumstances which led to this situation are not clear from the various newspaper reports and Ian himself was stated to have made “No comment”
Festival of Britain, Colchester
In October 1950 Ian was appointed director of the Colchester Festival of Britain celebrations in 1951. He is said in this report to be of South African parentage but this must be a mistake on his part as he later repeats this information in other interviews. His parents were both born in London although his paternal Grandfather Claus Vogler was from Hamburg, Germany.
He used his full name of George Henry Ian Vogler when applying for registration as a theatrical employer in Colchester in January 1951.
He was personally responsible for the week of celebrations in Colchester including sporting events, orchestral productions, art exhibitions and dramatic performances. A play was written especially for the occasion by Dorothy L. Sayers and staged at the Colchester Playhouse. The festival was well received and described as “a second Edinburgh Festival in miniature.”
Fife Ice Arena
Next, in 1952 Ian was appointed Manager of the ice rink in Kirkcaldy – Fife Ice Arena. Articles appeared in the local press (Fifeshire Advertiser and the Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian 19 July 1952). These would seem to have been compiled from information contained in a press release as they are very similar and contain much of the same information.
A summary of his career to date is given along with anecdotes of his time as a theatre manager at a “St Martin’s Lane Theatre” (possibly the New Theatre which is on St Martin’s Lane?) when, on VJ night, he was forced to compel Winston Churchill to extinguish one of his famous cigars. Ian still had the cigar as a souvenir.
Discussion is also made of his experience in producing ice shows and reference is made to his involvement with “Switzerland” at the Finsbury Park Empire in 1939. Ian stated that he was a fan of Ice Hockey and supported the Nottingham Panthers. He was also said to be a 45 year old Englishman, with a South African father and Scottish mother.
It would be remiss not to consider the possibility that this is in fact a different man. This Ian Vogler can be traced back through his career through his adoption of the name Ian and his subsequent dropping of George Henry. The Fife articles confirm that he was the George Henry Vogler who was Manager at Finsbury Park Empire in late 1939. The George H Vogler, Theatre Manager living next door to the Finsbury Park Empire is recorded in the 1939 Register with a date of birth of the 22nd of June 1907 – the same as that of the son of George Henry Frederick Vogler and his wife Martha Diggines (as recorded in George Snr’s military papers). This surely confirms that they are one and the same.
The rink staged its first professional Pantomime that year, devised, produced and under the direction of Ian Vogler. It received favourable reviews and seems to have been well received. Unfortunately, Ian was unwell in January 1953 having had major surgery and later resigned his position at the ice rink.
By July of that year he was once again living in Nottingham. “Claremont” was a large house divided into apartments and Ian lived in one of these (Flat 2) for the remainder of his life. George Henry “Ian” Vogler died on the 10th of March 1982 and was cremated at Wilford Hill Crematorium, Nottingham on the 16th. At the time of his death he was still living at Redcliffe Road (but had moved to number 23 which I have been informed is a bungalow on the opposite side of the road to Claremont). His cremation was paid for by Fred Leatherland of the same address. Fred was the owner of the Little Theatre Nottingham who had appointed Ian as Manager in 1947. Ian’s ashes were scattered in the garden of rest.
I cannot say why Ian altered the truth regarding his ancestry. It’s possible he genuinely thought his father was from South Africa rather than Germany, or perhaps he wanted to create a more “exotic“ background for himself and ally himself with his new Scottish home by saying that his mother was from Scotland. She died when he was 12 so he may have been unaware of her origins. He had seemingly already invented an new name for himself so why not a new family too?