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Gilbert Heron 1872 – 1951

Birth: 1872, in Belgium

Death: March 1951, at 25 Winsdale Road, Brixton, London, United Kingdom

Gilbert Heron was born with the name Leopold Sinsheimer in 1872.  His mother Francis was Dutch and his father Adolphus was from Germany.  After arriving in England he lived in Hackney, London. Leopold took the name Gilbert Heron and became a radio engineer in the very early years of this technology.

Gilbert Heron wrote stories for publication in London magazines from around 1898 to 1902, with the content often being about communication across the ocean.  Some of these would also be published in magazines overseas.  Later he wrote about the theatre as he became an actor himself, and met and married the actress Jessie Danvers in 1899, when Gilbert was 27.

Jessie Danvers

Jessie Danvers

Between his writing, radio engineering, family connections and acting skills, and his involvement at the time with the pioneering Marconi radio company, Gilbert Heron put all of these together and wrote, produced and performed in a stage play with several other family members called ‘Saved by Wireless’, which used real Marconi electronic instruments as dramatic props.  This performance was repeated in many venues around England. ‘Saved by Wireless’ was adapted by Gilbert Heron to become a radio drama when his career led him to write and act in the early transmissions of 2LO in London.

Marconi

Short Stories.

At the turn of the century, and overlapping with his early theatre work, Gilbert Heron wrote stories for serialised publication in magazines.

The Harmsworth Magazine cover

1898

  • The Despatches for Gibraltar: A Victoria Cross Affair

Gilbert Heron Despatches for Gibraltar  Gilbert Heron Despatches for Gibraltar  Gilbert Heron Despatches for Gibraltar

Published in Harmsworth London Magazine

  • Schooling with Charts and Diagrams: The Admiral’s Misadventure

Published in Strand – The Strand Magazine

1899

  • The Theft of the Secret Signal Log

Published in Harmsworth London Magazine

1901

  • Stolen Laurels: A Story of the Stage

Gilbert Heron Stolen Laurels

Published in Harmsworth London Magazine

1902

  • A Tale of Two Marines- Volume 11 of Seaside Library of Penny Fiction

Published by Sherron and Sons

Gilbert married Jessie Danvers, an actress who had recently become the widow of George Belmore, in September 1899.  They were working together in theatre productions as early as 1895. Gilbert became the stepfather of five children that Jessie had with George.  They had two more children together; Leo Danvers Heron and Francis Andrew Heron.

Francis Andrew Heron

Francis Andrew Heron

Francis Andrew Heron

Leo Danvers Heron

Leo Danvers Heron

Leo Danvers Heron

Theatre, and the Heron and Danvers’ Sketch Company.

Gilbert Heron was an actor in theatre and performed all over the UK.  He was also a writer, producer and stage manager, creating his sketches with his own company.

This included Saved by Wireless, a play with the setting of a wireless telegraph station on the coast of Ireland, which also stared Jessie Danvers as an agent of the German Secret Services, and other actors from the Belmore family.  The play made use of real Marconi wireless instruments as props for dramatic effect. However, when World War I has started, government officials visited the theatre where Saved by Wireless was being performed to shut down the electrical effects from the radio transmitter, worried that they might be used to send information to Germany. A highly unlikely and amusing possibility.

wireless

1898, the grounds of Alexandra Palace

  • As You Like It
Alexandra Palace

Alexandra Palace

The Bijou Theatre Notting Hill Gate, and Royal Theatre Bayswater

  • Until the Daybreak

Lyric Theatre, Grand Theatre Derby, Opera House, Standard Theatre Barnet, The Aquarium, Theatre Royal Bath,  Theatre Royal Birmingham, and Theatre Royal Leeds

  • The Daughters of Babylon

the daughters of babylon

Queen’s Opera House Crouch End

  • Lord & Lady Algy

Hastings Gaiety Theatre

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream

1899, Theatre Royal Colchester, Queen’s Opera House Crouch End, and Royal Victoria Rooms Bridlington

  • Lord & Lady Algy, with Jessie Danvers, who was to become Gilbert’s future wife.

A Midsummer Nights Dream 1900

1900

  • The Traitor’s Doom, or, The Admiral’s Daughter

Duchess Theatre Balham, and Opera House Cheltenham

  • Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Kit’s Atonement

The Crown Peckham, and The Dalston Theatre

  • The Scarlett Sin

1906, Cheltenham Opera House, and Gaiety Theatre Hastings

  • The Superior Miss Pellender

1908, Grand Theatre and Opera House Leeds

  • Leah Kleschna

Gilbert Heron Leah Kleschna 1908

1910, Variety at Hastings

  • Saved by Wireless

1913, Varieties Leeds

  • Saved by Wireless

Gilbert Heron Saved by Wireless 1913

1915, New Pavillion

  • Variety Show

Lyceum

  • In Time of War
  • Her Forbidden Marriage, produced and written with the Melville Brothers.

Alice Belmore and Gilbert Heron in Her Forbidden Marriage at The Lyceum   Alice Belmore and Gilbert Heron at the Lycium in 'Her Forbidden Marriage'

His Majesty’s

  • Henry VIII

1917

  • Gulliver
  • Saved by Wireless

1918, Chelsea Palace

  • Blindman’s Buff

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

  • By Pigeon Post

Old Vic, Camden

  • Taming of the Shrew

1930, New Theatre, and Prince of Wales

  • Richard III

1933, Fortune

  • Heritage

Heritage   Heritage

In 1915, during World War I, Gilbert Heron was naturalised as a British citizen.  His Naturalisation Certificate A708 was issued on the 15th of May by the Home Office and states that he was previously of no nationality, and still named as Leopold Sinsheimer, yet known as Gilbert Heron.  Name changes during the 1800s and early 1900s were rarely made by registering a legal contract though a national body, as there weren’t so many circumstances when proof of a person’s name was required.

Gilbert Heron

The Early Years of Radio Dramatic Plays.

As well as the stage, Gilbert was a star of the radio. With the early teams of radio broadcasting, he worked with what was at the time ground breaking technology.

During his career as a radio playwright and show producer, he gained recognition for The Blind Detective, in which Gilbert Heron was the detective Max Carrados, and he also played the music used in the broadcast. Max Carrados was a fictional detective series written by Ernest Bramah from 1914, which in its day was published alongside Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and often outsold it.

Another work of his was Saved by Wireless, which was adapted from the Gilbert Heron Company’s stage play.

eyes of max carrados

In May 1922, during the very early days of radio broadcasting, the Radio Society of Great Britain persuaded the Post Office to grant a broadcast for an hour a day in London from the roof of Marconi House, using the call-sign ‘2LO’. The station was directed by Arthur Burrows of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company. Marconi was anxious to obtain British Government permission to establish broadcasting stations in the UK as in America. The Government however were cautious. An experimental service containing no music was eventually agreed.

Arthur Burrows

Arthur Burrows

However in June 1922, 2LO was permitted to radiate its first concert. Stanton Jefferies was given control of musical programmes and Gilbert Heron charge of Melodramas. Occasional broadcasts took place from Marconi House with an initial range of 30 to 40 miles. Later the range was increased, and the broadcasts reached an audience of 30.000.

2LO would eventually become one of the ‘big six’ consortium that was the British Broadcasting Company Ltd., the world’s first national broadcasting organisation.

bbc stamp radio

1927, 2LO and Daventry

  • The Taming of the Shrew

Cardiff

  • The Ghost Ship
  • Crowd Law

1928, 2LO London and Daventry

  • Lord Jim
  • King Henry V
  • The Mist of Morning
  • Good Breeding

Daventry

  • Our Peg

Cardiff

  • 13, Simon Street
  • In the Dark, a Max Carrados story adapted from ‘The Game Played in The Dark’ by Ernest Bramah

1930, 2LO Daventry

  • In the Dark

In 1933, Gilbert and his wife Jessie adopted Reginald Gilbert Heron, natural son of Ralph Stevenson and Jessie Belmore. Jessie Belmore was a daughter of Jessie Danvers, from her previous marriage to George Belmore, making Reginald her grandson by blood.

Gilbert Heron also played the flute, and competed in Bridge at an international level, using the Culbertson ‘contact bridge’ method. He was also a very good friend of the Jenner family, who were responsible for a brewery where Gilbert worked after he had retired from acting.  And he was a friend of Christina Foyle, the owner of the famous Foyles bookstore in London which had been founded by her father and uncle.

Jenners Golden Ale

Foyles

Foyles book shop

Gilbert Heron and Jessie Danvers

Gilbert Heron and Jessie Danvers

Gilbet Heron and Jessie Danvers

Gilbet Heron and Jessie Danvers

Gilbert Heron passed away in March 1951, a year after Jessie Danvers, in Brixton, London at the age of 79.