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Factory workers discover old boss John Weaver-Smith was secretly popular magician and blade swallower Marvo

'Gobsmacked' ex-factory workers have discovered an old boss was secretly a well-known magician and blade swallower.

Bob Kemp, 71, a retired engineer at Ashford's Batchelors food factory made the discovery following an Express report last month.

It detailed how a mysterious box of 1930s magic tricks belonging to Marvo the Master of Modern Magic recently surfaced at auction for £18.

Fire - an old picture of John Weaver-Smith fire-breathing (2591122)
Fire - an old picture of John Weaver-Smith fire-breathing (2591122)

The box contained a trove of 50 tricks, a handwritten instruction manual and intricate scrapbook detailing the magician’s career from 1940-1980.

Included were letters from the Magic Circle, newspaper cuttings from across the UK and numerous thankyou letters and pay cheques for his performances.

Real name John Weaver-Smith, Marvo appears was most well-known for his blade swallowing and fire-breathing antics.

After reading the article Mr Kemp, who was an engineer at the factory, said: "At the factory we knew he was in the magic circle, but he would never performed any magic for us, he was certainly not one to show boat.

"I'm just gobsmacked that he was such a well-known magician, none of us knew at all.

"At work he was a strict manager but his bark was worse than his bite, he was a fair man and very popular.

"You just wouldn't have thought he was that far involved (in magic)."

Marvo the Magician (2793732)
Marvo the Magician (2793732)

Mr Kemp, from Kennington, who worked with Mr Weaver-Smith at the Willesborough Road plant around the 70s, wasn't sure if he was still practising magic at the time.

Mr Weaver-Smith, lived in Chequers Park in Wye and Ball Lane in Kennington, near Ashford, between 1967 and 1980, his scrapbook documents show.

The magic box remains in the hands of auction winner and entertainer Ashley White, 36, of Risborough Way in Cheriton.

The Grand Burstin singer said: "It's great we know more about his life at the factory but what about his life as the magician?

"It seems it has been whitewashed from history. Why did his whole life of work end up at the auction?

"There must be people out there who performed with him, in the scrap book it shows he had an assistant."

Ashley White, 36, of Cheriton (2591369)
Ashley White, 36, of Cheriton (2591369)

Mr White welcomed Mr Weaver's old factory colleagues to view the items at a later date.

Letters from the Magic Circle, the London Society of Magicians and Wirral Society of Magicians show he was widely travelled.

The scrapbook also shows Mr Weaver-Smith performing as a young boy and carries evidence he played his first professional gig in Birkenhead in 1945 aged 15.

Internet searches for Mr Weaver-Smith’s name or stage-name draw blanks and there appears to be no information on the magic society’s websites.

If you have any information about Mr Weaver-Smith, email folkestoneexpress@thekmgroup.co.uk

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