One time London Palladium manager to the stars celebrates 102nd birthday

As birthdays go, it was one of the quieter ones Phyllis Knapmann has had in her 102 years, but after an eventful life few would begrudge her the serenity.

Spring Lane Residential Home in Fortis Green, Muswell Hill, was packed out with well-wishers as Ms Knapmann celebrated her birthday with cake and a gathering of close friends and family on Friday, May 11.

Supported by her nephew Granville Richards, 68, and best friend Marilyn Catterill, 61, Ms Knapmann blew out the candles on her cake and then chatted with party-goers.

Ms Catterill said: “It was a lovely day and she had a wonderful time. Her only regret was that she hadn’t moved to the home earlier as she stayed independent until one week before her 101st birthday.”

Born in Wood Green in 1920, Ms Knapmann said one of her earliest memories was her and older sister Ruby being put on the handlebars of her father’s bicycle and riding from their home all the way to Hendon to watch the aeroplanes.

A former manager at the London Palladium in the 1940s, Ms Knapmann spent much of her earlier years working hard to ensure stars stayed happy.

“She had to manage a lot of the stars and had some wonderful stories,” said Ms Catterill. “I think she found Margaret Lockwood (film star of Gainsborough melodramas in the 1940s) a bit of a handful at the time.”

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Ms Knapmann joined the gas board in 1949 and worked tirelessly pouring through Hansard – printed transcripts of Parliamentary debates – every day to find references to her employer.

She retired in 1973 and turned her hand to gardening and her church – where she met Ms Catterill and the pair were confirmed into the Church of England in 1986.

“I used to joke with her that her secret to long life was never getting married,” said Ms Catterill. “She is a wonderful person and it showed with all the people wanting to wish her the best.”