POPULAR Pendle magician Mr Raymond Smith - better known as Mr Magic - has died aged 86.
He was born in Barrowford but brought up in Colne and lived in Burnley Road most of his life. Nearby Bethel Independent Methodist Church was very much his second home. He attended there for more than 80 years and for several decades was a Sunday school teacher, superintendent and church president.
Mr Smith followed in his trumpet player father Cyril’s footsteps and began to play in dance bands. He went to Park and Primet schools, and then Colne Grammar School. However, family finances were limited and at the time of the Depression he left school at 14 to work as a messenger boy at Coulton’s Printers, Nelson, which produced this newspaper. He became an apprentice printer.
When the Second World War broke out, Mr Smith became a Bevin Boy, working at Bank Hall pit, Burnley, until the end of the war when he returned to Coulton’s. In 1949, he married Edna - his wife for nearly 55 years. They leave two daughters Hilary and Christine and four grandchildren.
Mr Smith began to develop his interest in magic into skilled performances, enjoyed by adults and families. His signature tune was “Magic Moments”.
In the Sixties, he became highly-skilled and a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Paul Daniels and Ken Dodd.
He performed his magic many times on stage at Bethel – his magical interludes were a popular part of many Bethel pantomimes.
When Leader Times Newspapers production moved to Burnley in 1963, he worked there and loved it. The team spirit was strong and he made many friends. Mr Smith became Father of the Chapel for his union and a trained first aider.
In the late 60s and early 70s he began to develop the role for which most people remember him - “Mr Magic”. As he rode his bike through Colne, children and parents would call out: “There’s Mr Magic!”
During his lifetime he was a member of the Labour Party, Colne Cricket Club, Colne Camera Club, Colne History Society, the Dockray Fellowship and, of course, Bethel Church.
His health began to deteriorate after the sudden death of his wife in 2004, and despite being invited to travel to America last year to receive an international magician’s award, he did not feel able to go. He was still honoured by the International Brotherhood, however.
His funeral takes place tomorrow at Bethel Church at 1 p.m., followed by burial at Colne Cemetery at 1-45 p.m.