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John Tattersall

John was born on 15th November, 1924, the eldest of four children; he had a sister and two brothers.

His birthplace was the Lancashire mill town of Bacup, famed among other things for the '80s television police drama Juliet Bravo. It wasn't long before the family moved to the dizzy heights of Rawtenstall, termed by John as 'the posher mill town down't road'.  Then came the big move, as the Tattersalls slipped a further ten miles towards the big smoke of Manchester and ended up in Bury; famous for its outstanding local beers and black puddings.

No doubt inspired by this, John served his time as a butcher's apprentice and subsequently met his future wife, Audrey Bell.

When war broke out John downed his butcher's apron in favour of a pair of bell-bottoms and enlisted in the Royal Navy.  It was through this that he first became acquainted with Scotland, where he was stationed in order to test mini, two-man submarines.  

Thankfully, when hostilities ended John returned to his native county unharmed, but retained his love of the Highlands.  According to his family, although he was at the cutting edge of marine technology he never mastered setting the clock on his video recorder.

John married Audrey in 1948 and their one child (a daughter, Marilyn) was born the following year. He decided to leave the relative security of the House of Fraser meat counter and establish his own shop - Tattersalls of Burnley.  Through hard work, high quality produce, impeccable hygiene and devoted customer service (allegedly slipping his favourite female customers an extra sausage) the business grew.

The couple's love affair with the Scottish Highlands developed during long holidays there, and when John retired he finally fulfilled his desire to move to Sutherland.

Beneath his serious façade John had a sense of humour and had a deep interest in magic, from large-scale illusions to close-up items.  Marilyn was often persuaded to assist with the former, reporting that for 99% of the time she emerged unscathed.  The other 1% her dad didn't mention very often.

Nov 1924 - June 2016

 John had witnessed the 'oriental' magic of See-Mee as a schoolboy in the early 1930s, and that was when the bug had bitten.

Although latterly more of a theorist than a performer, John joined the MML on 10th November 1946, and served as our President in 1961 and 1985, also becoming President of the Northern Magic Circle in 1976. Jesse Demaline once commented that, once he had done his initiation show, John was content to sit back and delight in the performances of others, and Roger only recalls him performing the 'eggsposure' trick on a couple of occasions.  He came into his own by providing monthly raffle prizes, however, (usually a pound of sausages or a cut of meat) and he could always be relied upon to act as an 'inside caterer' to produce pies and sausage rolls for refreshments at our open days.

John, of course, was the last of the trio of Honorary Vice Presidents to leave us this year. Although a little younger than Mo, he was proud of the fact that he had served the League for a slightly longer period.  He was last seen by us all on the occasion of our centenary banquet, wearing a kilt and in the company of Paul Daniels.


Brian Lead (with many thanks to Ron Baron and John's grandson Alexei)