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    The Recent Years      1991 - 2007

                   Birmingham Icknield Male Voice Choir   

                                The history of the oldest choir in Birmingham. 1900 - 2007

1991 The committee were asked to draft an advert for a new Musical Director, after the absence of Steve Roche who had left to go to Dunlop Music Society. On the 27th April a concert was held at St. Mary’s Church Hall, Hamstead Rd, Handsworth. Icknield were invited to perform in the “Opening Ceremony at the International Olympics Committee’s Annual Meeting on 13th June, attended by the Queen. It is recorded that the Secretary put in a claim for £510 expenses for the I.C.C. concert. Not known if he received it! Brownhills Festival was mentioned this year, and we gained third place.  Icknield Choir attended at Newtown Anniversary Oct 27th


1992 This year was an “Annus Horribilis” for the choir with a “probable loss of £500 on year’s trading". It was reported we had lost many choristers, now 33, (31 singers). Dave Ward mentioned Cardiff concert and the past ICC appearance. The World Choir at Cardiff was in May with Tom Jones as the artiste and we shared a coach with WMPVC(Police) to Cardiff. We decided to purchase a new choir uniform. Steve Roche returned to the choir and  recommenced in April as MD. The choir in the past were very proactive in forming groups within the choir and Steve conducted the Royles. His ambition was to see Icknield as a 50 strong choir. One of his first concerts since returning was the Elmwood concert on Tuesday 19th May with Don Beach as Assistant MD. Also a deputy pianist was sought, and the choir had  33 members (but only 31 singers). A new photo was to be obtained of choir. The choir also decided we should change our image and purchase new choir jackets with Bow Ties. The choir attended a President's Party at the MASU in Cregoe Street. The President Les Bailey being a past member of the choir.


1993 To reinforce our strong ties with our friends the West Midlands Police MVC we shared their coach as we did in 1992 for the World Choir at Cardiff with Shirley Bassey appearing on the 20th May. On a press cutting it was noted Icknield had 40 members, although only 25 travelled to Cardiff. A concert with the Warley MVC was taken part in, their 50th Anniversary, “Men in Concert” with other massed choirs, and with guest singer Willard White. Also proposed was a tour by ourselves in Atlanta USA in April 2nd 1994. Interest in the history of the choir is not new, a member “Ernie Tuckey spoke about the formation of the choir and said it could be 1896 as he had found references to a choir from Hamstead giving a concert at the Town Hall in that year”. The death of our President Alf Dawson aged 87, was on July 2nd. He had sung with the choir for 69yrs and and even rejoined the choir after having a serious illness and a leg amputated. Such commitment is rarely seen but through the fellowship of music it is encouraged. See "Choir Personalities" Also Tom Daffon died from Cancer this year. The new uniform, with green blazers and black trousers was mentioned. Previously the choir colours were blue.  The Autumn Concert featured “No Strings” with our ex conductor Mike Adams.


1994 We undertook a tour by ourselves in Atlanta USA on April 2nd 1994. Some choirs have various ways of governance, and Icknield is one of these. The role of the MD and pianist come to mind. These had always been members of the committee but a change was brought about to remove them from the constraints of the committee, but of course Icknield having a Music Sub Committee this was possibly a better avenue for their talents. In May the choir were 40 strong (38 singing).  A concert was held at the Blackheath Methodist Church on the 5th November. A letter was received from the Midland Adult School Union at Cregoe Street offering to loan the Cadbury Shield to us. We regrettably declined, not realising that it would become our property in 2003 due to the MASU donating it to us. Shield Web Site: Les Beach was elected as Choir President. The Annual Concert was at Church Hall, Elmwood, on 24th September. Icknield Choir attended at Newtown Anniversary Oct 23rd


1995 The Choir finances this year were stated to be very healthy with over £5000 in the bank. One of the reasons for this was sponsorship from companies. One member, Dave Barson raised £600 in this way. We went to a concert at Much Wenlock, and a visit to Dublin in  Ireland was planned for September. One of the youngest members Steve O’Reilly was proposed as Assistant Pianist. It was noted that we had 36 singers at present. The West Midlands Police MVC asked us to join them at their 40th Anniv concert at Symphony Hall, 8th October 1995. On the 14th October we performed in Cannock at a mass MVC Concert with Cannock Chase Orpheus . Our Annual Concert on the 28th Oct. was the first with our new green uniforms which was held at the Church Hall, Elmwood, this included the Royles.



1996 It was mentioned that in April we had 24 - 26 members. A future influence in the choir, pianist David Rosser was mentioned, and played at his first Annual Concert at  Church Hall, Elmwood, on 12th October, because Les Beach was unwell. We attended a concert at Longbridge Methodist Church. In May we travelled to Malta with Northampton MVC.


1997 Still at Elmwood Church House. It was noted that this year there was an “increase in membership” But only a small amount of concerts were undertaken. The Annual Concert was at Church Hall, Elmwood, on 20th September. David Rosser was asked to look at an electric piano.



1998 An  Electric Piano was purchased for £890, this gave the choir more flexibility in accepting concerts. The number of venues that have a quality piano and also tuned to concert pitch were decreasing. The choir now had 39 singing members. 34 regularly attended. The piano was reported to be in a bad state now being ten years old. We made enquiries with other choirs for the disposal of our previous blue blazers. We did a concert for “Cruse” Bereavement care,  at Carrs Lane Church on 21st March.


1999 Even though the choir’s financial state was in good order it was disturbing that concerts were lacking. The ones this year that were mentioned were St. Andrews (Handsworth Wood) in 10th July, Church of the Holy Name (Great Barr) 31st July, Dorrington Rd School (Perry Barr) 9th September, and taking part in a show on May 16th at the New Repertory Theatre with Dr Carl Chinn (now Professor) the Birmingham Historian to raise money for the Birmingham Town Hall restoration. We now had a Choir Website, due to the efforts of one of our members Stuart Edwards.


2000  Icknield Choir supported a joint rally in Cannon Hill Park to help the Rover Car workers keep their jobs. The choir also decided to “cast the bread on the waters” and apply for Lottery funding. Unfortunately the application was refused. It was now decided that the Elmwood Church rehearsal facilities were not very satisfactory and other venues would be considered. One of which was hiring a room at St. Chads Cathedral because of Steve Roche’s connections with the Catholic Church. The choir recently travelled down to Ilfracombe to appear with them. Don Beach who had been with the choir for 49 years, and  emigrated to Australia at the end of next year and due to this Steve O’Reilly was asked to be deputy pianist/conductor. We attended the WMPMVC 40th Anniversary concert on 17th June. Ernest Albert Tuckey died this year 22nd August.  Icknield commemorated their 100th anniversary by staging a concert at the Birmingham Symphony Hall in aid of charity on Saturday 4th October, with massed Male Voice Choirs (304 Choristers) and Aldridge School, and soprano Lesley Delo. The compere was Dr Carl Chinn, (now Professor).


2001 The choir it was reported were in “Urgent need for new members”. The Annual Concert was as usual at the Adrian Boult Hall the date October 20th, and the Artiste Katy Bingham Best. Steve O’Reilly agreed to be Assistant Conductor in June. It was reported that Wilf Gregory (former member) may return to the choir. Don Beach the Assistant Conductor was now emigrating to Australia. His last concert at was at St. Andrews Church Handsworth Wood, on 8th September. Icknield have always had a keen interest in supporting Remembrance day and in partnership with WMPMVC will supported this in Birmingham.



Concerts LIST

A need for concert promoter was identified and a new member Stewart Bissell agreed to this as Concert Secretary.  At the 25/4/02 AGM on 25th April an important change for the choir was suggested by the Chairman Dave Ward who proposed that we change the choir name to incorporate “Birmingham” This was agreed and we moved forward into our second century with a new name. He also proposed that the Chairman’s post should only be for three years with a break of one year. Steve O’Reilly is decided would not continue as Assistant Conductor. Also concerts would be the second Saturday in each month apart from exceptional circumstances. Coloured Business Cards were designed by Stewart Bissell and a quantity of 1000 obtained at no cost to the choir. There were 36 members this year, excepting MD & pianist.   Special concerts were  Ilfracombe on the 5th October followed by the Adrian Boult Concert held on the 12th.  In October a meeting was arranged with community representatives and choir reps from Icknield and the West Midlands Police Male Voice Choir, with Professor Carl Chinn to decide on an appropriate celebration for St. Georges Day in Birmingham. The group formed a committee and a concert at the Symphony Hall was organised for 2003.


 2003 40 members this year, excepting MD & pianist.

Concerts LIST .

On 14th Jan there was a distribution of about 30 choir sweaters. In February we tried to find another supplier of blazers as the previous supplier Sharps Freeman cannot deliver! In March the Welsh National Opera used our rehearsal rooms for two half days. We got a FOC tuning of our piano! On Saturday March 8th a concert at Ounsdale School provided a photo opportunity. Choir Picture  An inaugural concert for St. George's Day April 23rd was performed at Birmingham Symphony Hall which was a sell out and an outstanding success. The MD for this concert was Steve Roche, the MD of Icknield, and Stewart Bissell was the Concert Secretary. A CD of the performance was done. The group formed was the Birmingham St. George's Day Association, and it finally obtained charitable status.  A proposed concert on Sunday 13th July at the Millenium Stadium Cardiff was cancelled. Not sufficient tickets had been sold, but the price of tickets, nearly £30 was considered to be the reason! This year there was a fear that Churches would be charge for entertainment under a proposed bill would call for the licencing of all premises where public performances take place. This would include churches and it is feared that this could lead to a reduction in the number of concerts staged at such venues.Fortunately common sense prevailed. Choir Letterheads were designed by Stewart Bissell and a quantity of 500 obtained. Neville Hughes a choir member died in April.




2004 44 members this year. excepting MD & pianist.

Concerts & Activities LIST .

On September 13th we supported the Friends of Key Hill Cemetery open Day. The Friends are raising money to refurbish the cemetery where a number of important Birmingham personages are buried. See Friends Web Site:

Using monies kindly donated for that purpose by Stan Phillips who was suffering from a serious illness, it was proposed on 6th January that we purchase a second hand Yamaha UX piano in ebony black approximately 20 years old from Broughton Pianos, near Belbroughton.  In addition a robust, high quality made to measure cover is to be purchased and special castors are to be fitted to the instrument in view of the amount of movement the instrument will be subjected to.  In addition a high quality piano stool is put forward for consideration. It was finally purchased with extras for £3,791.97. The choir arranged a fixing of a small commemorative plaque to the underside of the keyboard cover which acknowledged this gift. The balance with Stan Phillips agreement was spent on an upgrade to our sound system.

Stan Phillips died later this year and missed by all those that knew him.

On the 10th November   an order for Fleece Jackets with the choir logo was ordered by Stewart Bissell from Scottish Woollen Mills, who were eventually unable to supply. Choir badges were arranged by Stewart  and 100 were ordered  on November  12th from Fattorini in the Hockley Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.   He also applied on behalf of the choir to Birmingham City Council to be allowed to adopt the Forward Coat of Arms on letter heads but we were  turned down by Birmingham City Council Business Management Committee 14/12/04. No reason was given, but we were granted the use of same on a once only basis for the American Choir (Purdue) from Indiana for the concert souvenir programmes at Sutton Town Hall in  May 2005. On 6th December an application was made by the choir  to Birmingham City Council with respect to funding available for Art projects and organisations. No reply was received.  On the 7th December an idea was mooted of  launching a “Friends of Birmingham Icknield MVC” and ex. Councillor Ron Whitehouse a lifelong supporter of the choir and Mac Joseph a local historian was sent a choir badge. In September we joined the English Association of Male Voice Choirs (info from Cotswold site), which comprise; Warley, Kidderminster, Gentlemen Songsters, Cotswolds, Worcester, Churchdown (Gloucester). and Cradley Heath, ,who performed at Tewkesbury Abbey, and will again next year. Each year, by rotation, one of the choirs "hosts" the event, supported by the host choir for the following year.



2005 45 members this year. excepting MD & pianist.

Concerts & Activities LIST .

In January it was suggested by the Choir committee that the choir visited 3-4 working men’s clubs on a Saturday night to perform 3-4 numbers in an attempt to recruit more members.It was felt that 2, would be an ideal number.Also suggested were church choirs. It was felt that uniforms would be appropriate. The main stumbling block was the provision of a piano. We have to take our own keyboard which meant at least 30 mins. ‘set up’ & the same to remove ready for transport to next venue. One of the reasons why this has not been attempted to date. At a rehearsal at Elmwood Church on the 15th February which we hired as the Grimshaw Room was not available we had as our guest, Khalid Mahmood Member of Parliament for Perry Barr.  Choir members & Shield, and Choir members group. On Mon February 21st at a rehearsal at St. Pauls in the Jewellery Quarter, for the St. George's Day a choir member from Solihull Mr Fred Gibbs passed on to Stewart Bissell, Reel to Reel tape recordings of the choir of some years ago. These were transcribed by him onto CD. On the next night a new CD of the choir was recorded at the same venue. Choir Picture. On  Friday May 20th we hosted a Concert with the Purdue Varsity Choir from Indiana who were on a golfing and singing tour (not at the same time!). Our guests were also the Second City Ladies Barber Shop Sounds. We presented Purdue with a Plaque  as a gesture of friendship between the two choirs, and in turn they presented us with gifts. Monies from the concert were donated later in the year to  the Leonard Cheshire  care home, and to the Bishop Vesey School, for the music facilities



2006 48 members this year. excepting MD & pianist

Concerts & Activities. LIST

In March another 19 choir jumpers were ordered at £14.50 to accommodate the new members. For the same reason we needed more Blazers. On March 23rd this web site created by Stewart was launched. At a Birmingham Council meeting on the 5th May, the choir was granted the use of the Birmingham Coat of arms. With his researches on finding that a recording was done of the choir on 19th June 1982 at Hatherton Church in Walsall, Stewart Bissell contacted them for more details. It appeared that they then had celebrated their 100th Anniversary and by strange coincidence they were considering contacting a MVC to perform at their 125th Anniversary this year.  We were happy to accept for the 8th July! A DVD recording of this concert was produced by the organiser who had also produced the sound recordings in 1981/2/3. 

On December 12th the choir minute book 1961 - 2002 was lodged with the Archive Department of Birmingham Central for future research by those in the future.

Because of Icknield's membership in the English Association of Male Voice Choirs it was agreed that they would be the host choir at a Mass Male Voice Choir Festival at the Birmingham Town Hall in June 2008. The Town Hall is due to be opened in October 2007 after being closed for 10 years for major refurbishment.





            2007 50 members this year. excepting MD & pianist.

Concerts & Activities. LIST

On January Sunday 21st, choir members travelled to Worcester to attend an EAMVC committee meeting. On Monday 12th Feb Stewart Bissell presented a talk with slides to the Atherstone Womens Club on the choir history. Stan Moulsdale also attended. On Feb Sat 24th a social night was held at the Hollyfields Centre Club Erdington. On Feb Weds 28th choir members attended the Lord Mayors Suite, and the Lord Mayor Councillor Mike Sharpe, presented the members with a plaque showing the coat of arms of Birmingham. We also were granted the right to display same on our correspondance. Fri March 23rd there was a choir meal at the Fairlawns in Aldridge. On Saturday April 21st the choir took part in the St. George's Day concert at the Birmingham Symphony Hall. Among the concerts this year we did two weddings, one at St. Stephens Church Edbaston, and the other with the West Midlands Police MVC at St. Peters Church Hall Green. Other details on concert list. We appeared with the White Russian Band at Walsall Town Hall on Mon November 12th.

A bound minute book was obtained by Stewart Bissell in November 2007. This was an old format book, but unused offered by a Mr Tom Bishop who had offered it on FreeCycle a web service giving things free. On the back of this however a choir member, Gordon Lawton who had offered to buy one for a £100, still gave a donation to the choir.


 2008  52 members this year. excepting MD & pianist

Concerts & Activities. LIST

The English Association of Male Voice Choirs held a Mass Male Voice Choir Festival at the Birmingham Town Hall on June 28th 2008. This was the first MVC concert for 10 years because of the Town Hall being closed for 10 years for major refurbishment.



Concerts Items & Artiste List 1989 - 2002

 Music kept by the choir as at 2004. Excel File.


    Messer’s W. Hall,

    W. Boraston,

    L. Mathews (2 periods),

    E. Tuckey,

    L. Bailey (2 Periods)

    S Banning,

    M. Atkins,

    L Daffon,






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