The Middle Years
1930 - 1969
Birmingham Icknield Male Voice
The history of the oldest choir in Birmingham. 1900 - 2007
The 1930s brought about a "golden age" for the choir with stabilisation and
wins at Festivals as the following examples show;
1931: MASU Festival 9th
1933: MASU Festival 6th
1933: MASU Festival 6th
May Icknield Quartet comprised of Alf
Dawson, Grocott, Mason, Raban, gained 2nd place and a
The choir carried on giving
concerts and singing in competitions, with most times getting a good placing
1934: MASU Festival 12th
May Icknield gained 2nd place.
1934: MASU Festival 12th
May Icknield Quartet gained 1st place.
Albert Lancaster the Conductor having reached age of 65 years, he had to retire
in accordance with compulsory education rules.
The choir had anticipated
this, and one of the choir, namely Harold Winters was being groomed to replace
him. This was subject to Education approval which was granted.
At this time Harold was
about 28yrs with no previous experience, except 2 certificates from the Adult
School Festival, one for Solo
one Duet in May 9th 1931 with
Now Harold Winters was inclined to be a bit
stubborn, with his own ideas, but he realized that he would need to improve his
musical knowledge to survive. He immediately went to the Midland Institute to
have lessons on Rudiment of Music plus Conductorship, he already had got a good
singing voice, so for his teacher he chose a well known musician, a Mr W. E.
Robinson. Harold as with most things he tackled, he was prepared to give his
all, and worked hard to achieve his ambition. In his first year as Conductor, in
1935 he accomplished what had eluded Mr Lancaster namely, to win Adult School
Shield not won since 1910.
PICTURE OF CHOIR. He repeated this again
on 2nd May 1936.
PICTURE OF CHOIR, and
PICTURE WITH NAMES. The choir were still
enjoying the social side of the choir and embarking on trips.
PICTURE 2. (KEY FOR NAMES)
NAME FILE (MS WORD)
this of course the choir felt that now we were moving forward, as indeed they
did, because they were building up a reputation for being a choir to taken note
Progress was continued with
regular concerts etc, and many members singing solos etc, during this spell and
many won or obtained certificates from festivals, and the Quartet’s were still
in good voice. “A” Quartets were first winners of Victoriana Quartet’s Cup a
success repeated 2 or 3 times, Quartet’s consisted of Messer’s A. Dawson, P.
Root, H. Mason, W. Nolan, while 13 Quartet’s Messer’s Norton, Evetts, Sewell,
Jones, won the Quartets Prize at the Bournville Festival, this was the only class apart
from choirs open to outsiders, other classes were being closed.
1937: MASU Festival 8th
Bournville Festival. 2nd
1938: MASU Festival 1st.
The choir was really getting
known when another disaster hit, namely World War 2 1939 – 1945, but entered in
1940 the MASU Festival and won 1st prize. The choir
was virtually closed, but even then during latter period requests for music by
Adult Schools and other interested churches, these were fulfilled by scratch
Quartet’s provide by members including Alf Dawson who were still at home and
At the end of hostilities,
it took some time for the choir to get reassembled, but is was a real pleasure
for members to be back on song, and this shown in performances at concerts, and
festivals, one disappointment now was that before hostilities the choir had been
accepted for Midland Radio 5, but of course as it had been 5 or 6 years it was
not now accepted. As for many years members of the choir provided soloists for
Icknield Adult School for each Sunday Morning, thus we really had some fine
talent. After the war
entries to Festivals &
competitions were resumed and the following is an example of the results gained.
1947: MASU Festival
date unknown. 2nd place
1948: Sat June 12th,
At Grove Lane School, Icknield
Social “wedding” gifts to Harold Winters, Lew
parting gift to Joe Boraston.
Festival: 3rd Place
Icknield St. School had been taken off the list of Evening Classes, the
building being old and now not suitable for requirements in the 1940s the Choir
moved to Grove Lane Junior School, and as the choir held cupboards, full of
music, this was a major exercise and some arrangements had to be made at Grove
Lane to receive us. But we settled in well, and spent several happy years there
with socials as well as rehearsals.
Kirby was the Chairman at a meeting on Tues 20th August at Grove Lane School. On
Sun October 20th noted "9:30 Tiptaft Icknield Street"
(Could this relate to the
Tiptaft Cup competed
for in the 1920s?)
1948: July 22nd
Choir General Meeting at Grove
Recording in 1949 St. Peter's Church Grove Lane.
On a recording undertaken in
1949 the following is recited;
Announcement: “In the late
summer of 1949 the Icknield Choir made a record in St. Peter’s Church Grove
Lane, (Handsworth) Birmingham. One side was “In St. Pauls” by Arthur
Worrall, on the other side was “The Wanderer” by Edward Elgar. Both this pieces
were sometimes set as test pieces at competition Festivals. The record was at
78rpm and this recording was taken off Mr Albert Dawson’s cabinet type wind up
gramophone, on 28th 1992 (sic). The record was supplied by Mr
& Mrs Alan Sewell. The record belonged to Mrs Price who is Mrs Sewell’s mother.
Mrs Price was the accompanist and is Albert Lancaster’s daughter. This recording
is conducted by Mr Harold Winters”.
1. “In St. Pauls”
by Arthur Worrall
2. “The Wanderer” by
the choir getting stronger and may I add more musical with new members, some
early 1950s until mid 1960s this was the best period of
achievements of the choir, and the Adult School Shield which had eluded them
previously, was made almost their property as they won so often.
To become their property in Dec 2003
the 1950s a Black & White Troupe was formed by some members of choir plus one or
two Ladies from the Ladies Choir, and they made a very entertaining and
Festival Wins of the 50s and Social Activities.
1950: MASU Festival
date unknown. First place, Unopposed
between 17th June to
the 1st of July the choir gained 1st place.
1951: MASU Festival
date unknown. First place in 12 classes.
PIC OF CHOIR
Festival: Joint 4th place for Icknield Quartet
Festival: 7th place for Icknield Choir. Choirs came from far afield
1953: MASU Festival
date unknown. First place, Unopposed
Festival: 1st Place
1953: 25th September, a
CARTOON was produced of the choir
1954: At a dinner
October 24th the The Adult School Ladies were mentioned as providing
Festival: 1st Place
All was well until the late 1950s when about 1958, the
Education Committee, having built a modern school at Church Lane, Handsworth
Wood, felt that it should be used fully so the choir moved there. As we
had now moved, from Icknield Early Morning Adult School, and only a percentage
of choir members still attended, it was decided to change the name to “Icknield
Male Voice Choir”.
1958: A signed card was
presented to Harold Winters to celebrate his 25yrs in the choir,(SHOWING
THE CHOIR WINS)
although it is on record that he was in the choir at least from 1931 having won
a prize for a duet with Alf Dawson.
1959: Spring Concert at
Church Lane Schools. April 25th.
A letter dated of this year, September 15th
addressed to the choir, mentioned that Cardinal Godfrey was to visit Birmingham
on November 22nd and a request for the choir to attend a concert at
Birmingham Town Hall was made. It is not known whether they attended.
1959 Recording details from
Music items and commentary.
to Wilf Aston in America. (Presumably by Harold
“Sent to Wilf Aston in America
returned to Great Britain. This tape is taken off it”
“Our greetings to you Wilf and
your wife Beatty, to your daughter Joyce and her husband. We have set aside this
evening to sing and record the songs you especially asked for before you said
goodbye to us and shortly before you and your daughter and her husband. We have
set aside this evening to sing and record the songs you especially asked for
before you said goodbye to us and shortly before you and your dear wife left
these shores to join your daughter and her husband across the seas about which
we have so often sung. A man’s inventive mind has brought about this means
whereby we are able in effect to join you in your home and sing to you., play to
you, and speak to you. Well old friend the boys and I are gathered in our
rehearsal room in much the same way as we have done over the years, and it won’t
need much effort on your part to imagine you are sitting amongst us again taking
part with us. It is symbolic the regard they have for you that your old comrades
elected to sing all of the items you had set down instead of just a few which
you and I discussed when you were here. So now if you have made yourselves
comfortable in your chairs we are going to sing two love songs first. “Drink To
Me Only With Thine Eyes” by James Robert Colman and “Passing By” the Purcell
setting which you liked best.”
Tape Music Items
Drink to me only
All in the April Evening
Announcement: Titles of last two items. (Not clear)
The Jolly Roger
Announcement: “The Crusaders” and “Thanks Be To God”
Thanks Be To God
Announcement: "Les Beach on the piano, Ernie Tuckey as soloist
The Holy City"
The Holy City
Tape Music Items
Announcement: “To Wilf Aston to accept this recording," (and
then the choir members say their names).
Announcement: “Transfer from Reel to Reel to cassette was
done from a machine owned by Alf Dawson’s Daughter.
Repeat of side 1 items.
Announcement: “This is Wilf speaking. Good wishes to all the
choir by Beatty and Joyce.
Announcement: “This is your recording engineer Norman
(gives an announcement about the Reel to Reel recording) “sent to
America and then sent back to us on a cassette to Mr Ernest Tuckey after a lot
of sorting out of the old record made in 1949 and the reel to reel tape of 1959
recording and after a lot of correspondence to and from America has produced
this tape in 1992 and the rehearsal room referred to in the reel to reel tape
was at the Church Lane Schools Handsworth Wood in 1959.
1960s The choir entered the
Ruardean Festival several times.
Ruardean is a
small village in Gloucestershire, which is situated within a few miles of the
Welsh border so naturally from time to time Icknield met Welsh Choirs, and in the first eight years they
won about 5 times and 3 seconds, not a bad record, unfortunately as with many
other festivals interest was getting less, so eventually several such as this
1961 there were 27
engagements and socials. Ruardean was also entered.
It appears that Les Bailey had
done a recording as he was asked to do the recording again.
It was proposed many times
for choir to have a distinctive uniform but the nearest they got to was in 1961
was to provide a tie,
suggested by choir member Mike Atkins.
1962 a concert at Hall
Green Parish church is noted, and a visit to Bristol. The Bournville festival is
The current pianist William Dixon
was replaced by Mr. L. Yale. The total of members at this time was 39.
concert was 27th April
1963 The choir managed to arrange
20 Concerts at various venues, with an unknown competition entered and
88 Marks awarded. Quartette competitions were still being arranged. It was noted
that the choir had 41 members.
was again mentioned. Bill Dixon who was mentioned in 1962 decided after four and half years in the
choir he would leave Birmingham, and the choir gave him a presentation.
choir dinner this year was at the New Inns Handsworth, and the choir sang “Holy City”,
“Silent Night”, “Martyrs”, “Volga Boat Song”, “Lullaby”, “Drinking Song”, “Mwfanwy”,
finally came at Ruardean against 6 other choirs and we won a trophy.
At the choir Annual
the choir sang; Beleagued, Silver Branch, Awake Aeolian Lyre & Rest, Huntsman
Also in the mid 1960s the
choir had several engagements at many Masonic Lodges. With the choir in this
successful period they won at Tamworth, Bournville, Leamington Festivals, while
being placed in many others. Socials were by this time arranged by Bill Roe
one of our Baritones, and he tried many ideas to create interest, as these socials were up till
then the main source of income.
as time does not stand still, and members were getting older, fashion had changed over the
years and it was necessary to review the socials, and it was realised that choir
members and friends could not now do the light fantastic on dance floor, so they
again concentrated on concerts, and this continued with the Spring and Autumn
once again brought in the bulk of
1966 Ruardean was
In 1866 the Icknield
– Newtown Early Morning Schools were founded,
and the Centenary was celebrated this year.
It was noted that
thanks to L. Bailey for use of recorder so this would indicate a recording was
made in this year. At the Birmingham Town Hall “Creation” was sung in 1965 or
Sid Neal a long standing
member was made Life Vice President
A uniform was discussed for
the choir of Grey Flannels, White Shirts, Dark Jackets
At the Annual
Dinner the sang "Loch Leven", "Comrades in Arms", "Soldiers Charms",
"Carnival", "Lullaby", and "Holy City".
Harry Sammonds (Bass of Richmond Quartette) Died aged 66yrs
It was recorded that there were 37 choir members
Festivals at Ruardean & Coventry were entered, and the choir managed to
attain five new members! Quite an achievment.
Again there was a win at
Les Beach was Deputy Conductor
& Pianist and the Coventry Festival was
of Alf Kirby's diaries he states; "Icknield St. E.M.S. Anniversary, last time at Icknield St."
A concert was held on Saturday
May 4th at Church Lane Schools.
Festivals entered were Coventry 31st May,
Ruardean 28th June, and
Bournville 5th July.
Bill Roe died who was
a member for 40 years.
This brings the choir to the late 1960s.
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