Category Archives: Music

Details of the musical heritage of the people of Netherthong.

Netherthong Brass Band & Netherthong Philharmonic Band Mk.1 & 2

Netherthong Brass Band
Netherthong Brass Band

In all the years I have been reading and researching the history of Netherthong , I have to date ( May 2016 )  only come across a few short  references to a Netherthong Brass Band. The search is  still on-going and  involves me reading through all the local Huddersfield newspapers from 1850 onwards and I have decided to give it and the Philharmonic Band their own chapter which, in all probability, will regrettably remain  short on detail.  The Netherthong Philharmonic Band,  which  appears to have been born in the late 1870s,  went into abeyance in 1902-3 and was then re-born  and re-formed in 1908 to be finally disbanded  in about 1915.

Netherthong Brass Band.

Netherthong Village Band c 1880s
Netherthong Village Band c 1880s

 I have just received ( May 2016 ) the above photograph from Judith Wobst, who has many  ancestors with Netherthong connections. She said that the photograph is a Xerox of a broken picture on the back of which it says Netherthong Village Band in the 1880s. From looking at the instruments, I would guess it is the Brass Band rather than the Philharmonic Band. Because of her family connections she has been able to identify a number of the musicians. Martin Sykes – back row 3rd. from the right – was her grandfather. Joe Hallowell – front row far right – was the husband of Annice Sykes. Tom Sykes (?)- back row far right. Tom Woodhouse – front row far left – grandmother’s older brother ?. Walker Child – back row 4th. from the left – father of cousin Nellie Child. It is the oldest photograph in my history and is the most exciting showing the dress of the musicians with those great instruments. I have now finished reading all the newspapers from that era and my meagre findings are shown below.

  Thanks mainly to back issues of the Huddersfield Examiner & West Riding Reporter, it would appear that the Brass Band could have been formed in 1866 and disbanded in 1887.What has intrigued me about the Band is  that our small village of Netherthong supported not only this Brass Band but, during the same period, also had a Philharmonic Band. Bear in mind that the standard complement for a brass band was 28 musicians. As you read on you will see that the number of reports I found were very few and far between and consisted mainly about the Band leading processions at local feasts. What did they do for the rest of the year, where did they practice etc. ? Did they ever partake in any competitions. ? What was their relationship with other local brass bands, namely Meltham and Honley ? I have reports that in 1873 and 1876 some members of Meltham and Honley brass bands did attend and play at the funerals of two musicians of Netherthong Band. However I have just come across, in a newspaper report from January 1872 ,a report of a funeral of  one of the Band’s musicians.

The  references are.

Huddersfield Chronicle, June 1872 was the earliest reference to the Band that  I   found in that paper.  At the annual Sunday School feast the scholars formed in procession and led by the Netherthong Brass Band proceeded to the residence of Mr.Josiah Mellor.

In the Huddersfield Examiner for January 1872, the remains of Herbert Boocock were assigned to their resting place in the cemetery at the Parish Church. The members of the Band, in addition to several belonging to Meltham Mills, were present when the procession  marched from the deceased’s residence to the church and they played the ‘Death March’. They played ‘Luther’s Hymn ‘ over the grave and the Rev. A. Jones , the curate, read the funeral services.

 Huddersfield Examiner & West Riding Reporter – June 1873. At the Annual Festival of teachers and scholars the procession was headed by the Netherthong Brass Band in ‘their splendid uniforms’. In  November of the same year the paper reported –  ‘On the last Sunday in October the remains of Mr.John Mallinson, musician and a member of the Band, were interred in All Saints burial ground. Members of the Meltham Mills, Honley and Netherthong Brass Bands met at the house of the deceased, the Clothiers Arms Inn, and preceded the coffin playing the ‘Death March.’ Over the grave they performed that solemn piece of music, ‘Luther’s Hymn’ in the presence of a large number of spectators who had assembled to witness the funeral ceremony.’

There were three references in 1874. The first was in May when they assisted at the Hall Sunday School, Austinley, annual school feast. The following month they made their regular appearance  at the annual festival for the All Saint’s Sunday school when they headed the procession through the village. The last report in August was about a cricket match played at Town End between the members of the Netherthong and Town End Brass Bands.  Town End scored 29 runs but lost to Netherthong who amassed 56 runs. It had been intended to hold a gala following the match but the weather turned bad and it had to be postponed.

 Huddersfield Examiner & West Riding Reporter , June 1875.  At the annual festival of the teachers and scholars attending the Parish Church school, a procession of about 160 formed a procession and headed by the Netherthong Brass Band made its way to Thongsbridge.

 Huddersfield Examiner & West Riding Reporter – Saturday February 26 1876. The annual tea party connected to the Brass Band was held in the house of Mrs. Mallinson, the Clothier’s Arms Inn, when nearly 90 people sat down to eat. The evening was spent singing and dancing. In July of the same year there was a rather unusual and intriguing reference in that members of the Band played their annual cricket match with the Deanhouse Cricket Club on the ground of the latter. It would appear from the report in the paper that 18 of the musicians batted and scored 58 runs. 11 members of the Club reached 46 for 7 wickets before time was called resulting in a draw. A gala and sports were held in the evening and lots of young people assembled to dance to the diverting strains of the Band. Several old English sports were introduced during the evening.

 Another interesting report in the same paper in October 1876 included  information that indicated the Band could  have been formed in 1866. A funeral was held at All Saints for Mr. Martin Hoyle, 42 years, who had been connected with the Netherthong Brass Band as a cornet player since its formation about 10 years previously. The members of the Band met at the practice room and, assisted by a few members of the Meltham Mills Brass Band, accompanied the corpse to its burial ground. 100s of spectators congregated to witness the funeral ceremony.

 At the Whitsuntide celebrations in 1877 for the Wesleyan Sunday School, the procession proceded to the Deanhouse Workhouse headed by the Netherthong Brass Band.

The annual school feast for the   Parish Church Sunday School  was held in June 1878 and the procession, which was formed and paraded round the district, was headed by the Netherthong Brass Band.

There were two references in 1879, with the first being on Whit Monday when the band formed part of the procession for the teachers and scholars of the Wesleyan Sunday school. In the evening, when everybody adjourned to a field for games, they played music at intervals. Later in the same month the Parish Church Sunday schools held their annual festival which, as usual, involved a procession round the village led by the Brass Band. During the activities the band played several selections of music.

In March 1880, the Brass Band held its annual party at the Wagon and Horses Inn, Holmfirth when 60 persons sat down to a 1st. class sandwich tea well served by Mrs. Tyas. Afterwards a ball took  place  and members of the band played music for dancing. Songs were given by Messrs.James Mosley and E. Brown during the evening. The room was crowded and, in an unusual turn of events, they decided to have another tea on the following Monday and at that event 40 people sat down for tea. The following year the annual tea party and entertainment was held in the large room at the Clothiers when about 90 people took part. The Band had recently joined the E Company as a volunteer band and was trying to get a new set of instruments. The next report didn’t occur until June 1882 when once again the Band led the procession for the annual Parish Church school feast.  No report appeared in 1883  but in 1884  they were back leading  the Parish Church Annual school feast procession in June.

They organised a concert of vocal and instrumental music in the National schoolroom in February 1885 in aid of funds. The artistes engaged were Mrs. Hardy, soprano; Miss England , contralto ; Mr.F.Haigh , tenor ; Mr. H.Hardy, bass and J.Senior, violinist along with the band.The paper reported that the concert was a great success musically  but financially would only leave a small balance for the Band. Once again the Band was involved in the Annual Sunday School feast and , in addition to leading the procession, they played a choice selection of music in the evening. The Parish Church Sunday and Day schools held their annual procession in June 1886 and once again, as in 1885,  it was headed by the Brass Band.

  Holmfirth Express, December 1886. ” At the Christmas Day treat at Deanhouse Workhouse at 7a.m., the Netherthong Brass Band and the Netherthong Philharmonic Band played in front of the house and in the hospital.”

 Holmfirth Express , June 1887.  On Whit Monday the scholars and teachers made a procession along with scholars of the Methodist Free Church and, headed by the Netherthong Brass Band, marched to the Deanhouse Workhouse. In the same month  Netherthong village joined in the Jubilee Procession in Holmfirth and the Netherthong Brass Band was involved .The last reference I have found about the Band was in September 1887 and it reported the death of George Henry Wood who was a well known musician and had been leader of the Netherthong Brass Band. He was buried in All Saints’ Church. There is a reference in 1881 that he had also been  the conductor of the Philharmonic Band.

There were brass bands in most of the local villages. Meltham & Meltham Mills Band was in existence from 1846 to 1996 and Ron Massey  published an excellent book full of photos and details. titled 150 years of Music. There is a copy in the Archives Library but there is no reference in it to the Netherthong Brass Band. A ‘History of Honley Band’ was written by Peter Marshall of Honley and published in 2010. If you read through my chapter on the various processions held in the village, you will see how many of the local bands were involved. I have recently( 2015 ) spoken to Jeffrey Turner, Holmfirth born and bred, who has written a book titled ” Brass Bands in the Holme Valley “. It is full of stories, information and facts on a collection of local bands. Unfortunately he did not have any specific information about the Netherthong Brass band but did confirm that he had come across odd comments about its existence. The book is available from the author.

Netherthong Philharmonic Band – Mk 1

I have only come across a few references for what I have called Netherthong Philharmonic Band Mk1. The first one was dated November 1878 and the last one 1902. They did appear to be separate from the Brass Band although there could very well have been a cross-over of members from time to time.

 The United Methodists held a tea and public meeting in December 1878.  It was reported that the Philharmonic Band attended and gave music to the satisfaction of the audience. 

In 1879 the three churches in the village held separate  processions for their Sunday Schools. The Wesleyan Methodists and the Free Methodists both held theirs on Whit Monday and, as mentioned above, the Brass Band played at the Wesleyan event and the Philharmonic Band  was involved with the Free Methodists.

At the beginning of 1881 the inmates at Deanhouse Workhouse were treated to a concert by the Philharmonic Band and several vocalists. Several months later in April, the Methodist Free Church held a public tea and, as part of the entertainment, the Philharmonic Band, under their conductor, Mr. G.H.Wood, played selections of music. Members of the Band played at the concert given in December in aid of funds for the Deanhouse Cricket Club.

The Netherthong Co-op Society held its first meeting on January 14  1881 and, from the minute-book, there is an entry that at Easter 1882, they held a tea party and the entertainers included the Philharmonic Band under their conductor, Mr.G.H.Wood.  The Band played selections of music at the United Methodist Sunday School annual tea in November 1882. At the Christmas day celebrations in the Workhouse in December 1885, the Band started playing at 7am and , as reported by the paper, ” the strains of the Philharmonic Band reverberated through the building ” – almost like a reveille call!

 The Philharmonic Band along with the Brass Band played at the Christmas Day treat in December 1886 at the Deanhouse Workhouse .

 The Deanhouse Workhouse celebrated the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. The inhabitants of the village and the children from all three Sunday schools marched in procession headed by a brass band ( not identified ) and the Philharmonic Band. This is the last report I have found.

Philharmonic Band Mk. 2

According to the Holmfirth Express the ‘new’ Philharmonic Band was formed in 1908. The conductor was C.A.Wood and the leader S.W.Bray. The ‘orchestra’ consisted of about 30 instrumentalists and presented a concert each year in the village. The band disbanded  in 1914/1915. 

 In  March 1909 a vocal and instrumental concert was given by members of the Band and, although there was a blizzard raging , the school was crowded with the largest audience for many years.The Band under the direction of S.Bray and conducted by Charles Wood consisted of 36 members . All the vocal artistes as well as the accompanist, Herbert Cousen, were natives of Netherthong and Holmfirth. The newspaper report concluded…” the demeanour of the members of the orchestra, particularly during the rendition of the vocal items, from the leader down to the tympanists was most commendable and yes, and especially yes, the gay drum major.”  In September of that year the Band provided music for dancing at the Football Club garden party.

 The 2nd, annual concert was held in January 1910. The Band had arranged an admirable programme and enlisted the engagement of a Netherthong celebrity, Mr.Frank Dickensen, who regularly appeared round the country. The other artistes were Miss Elsie Stringer, soprano, Mr.Tom Johnson, solo violin cello, and the accompanist Mr.H.Cousen, The members of the Band were : 1st. violins – Mr.W.Bray ( leader ), H.Hinchliffe, Miss F.Hirst, J.Hobson, F.Walker and B.Batley. 2nd. violins – G.Sheard, B.Dyson, R.Thorpe, H.Shore, H.Thorpe, A.Mellor.  Violas – L.Ramsden and A.Hobson. Violoncello – T.Johnson ( principal ), J.Charlesworth, W.Hobson and H.Mallinson.  Bass – L.Braithwaite and W.Buckley.  Flutes – J.Hebbelthwaite and W.Buckley. Clarionets – D.Wood and C.Woodhead.  Oboes – C.Garner and C.Hanson.  Bassoon – W.Lodge.  Horn – H.Clough.  Cornets – V.Kay and A.Green.  Trombones – H.Hellawell, M.Bailey and W.Coldwell. Drums – G.Swindon.

 At the 3rd. annual concert in 1911, C.A.Wood was still the conductor and the two named soloists were D.Wood, clarinet, and L.Green, Cornet.

 January 1912 was the date of the 4th. concert and even though the weather conditions were atrocious  they did not stop a large number of villagers attending. Mr.Couzen was the accompanist

 At the 5th. annual concert in addition to their own share of the programme, they had the following artistes. Soprano – Miss Florence Sanderson. Bass – Mr.George Oxley. Solo violin – Joseph Butterworth. The conductor was C.A.Wood, the accompanist was J.Goddard and J.Butterworth was the leader.

 The 6th. and final Annual Concert was held on March 21 1914. There was a full orchestra of  30 performers along with three guest singers – Miss Florence Sykes, soprano. David Oxley , tenor and Arthur Roberts bass.  The front seats wer 1/6, second seats 1/- and Backs 6d. The programme was Entry of the Gladiators, Raymond , Dans La Forge and Haydyn’s Farewell Symphony. In the second half the programme included God of Thunder, Semiramis and Esmerelda.  The impending  war  and the fact that many of the musicians would be enlisting were the main reasons this concert was to be their last one.

I have two further references to the Band that occur in obituaries. The first was for Private Charles Woodhead who was a member of the Band and played the clarinet. He was 20 years old when he was killed in 1916 fighting for his country in WW1 in Europe. The second was for William Hobson who died in March 1927 aged 77 . He was a member of the band and a familiar figure with his cello.

 I have found one reference to a Netherthong String Band who played at a social in the National School in 1902 under the direction of Mr.C.Wood . He was the conductor of the Philharmonic Band from 1908 onwards. The Band played a varied selection of music and there were refreshments of tea, coffee and confectionery provided by the caterer, Miss Mitchell of Netherthong.

Very old photographs of Netherthong.

I  received the following four photographs from Mr. M.Ellis of Kent in 2014. They were originally postcards and he very kindly reproduced them and sent me these copies. They are .

1. Coronation -Netherthong – June 22nd. 1911. Was this taken outside the Parish Church?

2. Peace Celebration – Nether Thong – July 16th. 1919. Could this have been taken at Deanhouse Workhouse.?

3. A small group of ” Indians ” – “blacked -up” and in costume. Could these be local people appearing in a play or musical.? Probably circa 1910s  and could have been taken inside the Parish Church?

4. A much larger group of actors and actresses including the eleven ” blacked – up” from the above photograph. What sort of play would incorporate such a diverse range of characters?

I have also inserted the photographs in the appropriate chapters in this history.

Coronation June 22 1911
Coronation
June 22 1911

 

Peace Celebration July 26 1919
Peace Celebration
July 26 1919

 

Small group " blacked - up "
Small group
” blacked – up “
Lrge group of villagers in costume for a play?
Lrge group of villagers in costume for a play?

 In 2016 Judith Wobst sent me the photograph below. It shows a group of Old Folks outside the Parish Church and is marked on the back 1898. She says that Emma Wimpenny, 4th. person in 2nd. row, was her great,great grandmother.

Old Folks of Netherthong 1898 outside church.
Old Folks of Netherthong 1898 outside church.

Women’s Institute

  Women’s Institutes are British, community – based organisations for women. They were formed in 1915 with two clear aims : to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during WW1. The aims were then broadened and it is now the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the UK. It celebrated its 95th. aniversary in 2010 and at that time had approximately 208,000 members in 700 Women’s Institutes. Re-reading this chapter in September 2016, I realise that it has just had its 100th. anniversary.

The WI movement originally began in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada in 1897 when Adelaide Hoodless addressed a meeting of the wives of members of the Farmer’s Institute. WIs rapidly spread throughout Canada and the first WI meeting in England & Wales took place on 11 September 1915 at Llanfairpwll on Anglesey.

In August 1962, at a meeting in the Day School, a Women’s Institute for the village was formally inaugurated by two voluntary County Organisers for the Yorkshire Federation of Women’s Institutes. It was in fact the 624th. to be formed in Yorkshire. Miss J.Grainger of Wilshaw was in the chair and 83 members were enrolled and the following officers were elected by ballot. Mrs. A.Stangroom – President. Vice-presidents – Mrs.R.Stephenson and Mrs.E.Mosley. The secretary was Mrs.W.Wood with Mrs.W.Lax as treasurer. Committee members were Mrs.D.Binstead,Miss S.Brook, Miss E.Dickenson, Mrs.A.Fallas, Mrs.A.Swallow and Mrs.R.Whittaker.

The monthly meeting for March 1963 was held in the Day School with Mrs. W. Stangroom in the chair. 65 members were present and they listened to a talk and film on different types of nursing. After light refreshments, Mrs. Hartley of Holmfirth judged a display of bulbs grown by members. At the next meeting 66 members listened to a talk on “The part played by the Secondary Modern School”. Mrs.Turner gave a report of a Tupperware party and supper held in the home of Mrs.Swallow which raised £3.

There was an excellent attendance for the June meeting when final arrangements were made for the trip to York. Mrs.Pike gave an account of her visit to Russia and the subject by the  guest speaker, Mrs.G.Houghton of Holmfirth, was “Yorkshire Humour”.

At the July meeting, Mrs.W.Stangroom said that members of other local WIs had been invited to the meeting in order to hear the  report on the Annual Conference by Mrs.Mosley who spoke very highly of David Attenborough’s address on ” The Preservation of Wild Life “.  The final item was a talk by Mrs.Mason of Ilkley on cheese making and cheese tasting.

Members at the August meeting stood in silence in memory of Mrs.T.Wyke and Mrs.B.Rodgers who had passed away during the year. Knowing that many members were interested in forming a drama group, Mrs.Elsworth of Wilshaw gave a talk titled ” Producing a Play “. After tea and biscuits three members spoke briefly on their holiday experiences – Mrs.N.Swallow on Germany, Mrs.Allan on Scotland and Mrs.E.Turner on Southern Ireland.

At their first AGM in 1963, Mrs. Creig who had helped in the inauguration of the  branch was the guest. There were 67 members present and Mrs. Stangroom, the President, demonstrated the use of a brass bell which Mrs.A.Wood, the secretary, had presented before she left the district. In the Annual Report, membership had risen from 93 to 117 with four on the waiting list and the average monthly attendance was 70. They had formed a choir, were running a Keep Fit Class and there was an active Produce Guild. The following officers were elected : President – Mrs.Stangroom . Vice-presidents – Mrs.N.Swallow and Mrs. A.Fallas. Treasurer – Mrs.N.Lax. Secretary- Mrs.J.Mosley with assistant secretaries Mrs.A.Alan and Mrs. N.Stephenson. Committee members were Mrs.G.Bailey, Mrs. J.Falkingham, Mrs.Whittaker and Miss B.Brook.

The October meeting was held in their new headquarters at the Zion Methodist School. The November meeting focused on demonstrations of Christmas cookery. Mrs.S.Gledhill and Mrs.H.Lockwood agreed to form a social sub-committee to work in conjunction with the elected committee.

The first meeting in January 1964 saw 70 members listen to a talk by several Yorkshire Electricity personnel titled ” Winter warmth the unit way.” The second Annual party was held in February and took the form of a whist drive, a tasty supper and a fancy dress parade and, if that wasn’t enough, they rounded up the evening with party games and competitions.

The “normal” February meeting occured a few weeks later when 69 members listened to an amusing talk on visits to London by Mrs.R.Mason, the president of Brockholes WI. Prior to the talk, there had been a short business meeting at which Mrs.H.Hobson was elected to attend the County meeting in York. After tea and biscuits members voted for the best exhibit in the bulb display which was won by Mrs.B.Whittaker. Mrs.P.Bray won the competition for the oldest English coin with a half-penny dated 1700 and Miss Hirst, with a coin dated 1745, was the winner  for the oldest foreign coin. They held a very successful coffee evening in March which they combined with a “shilling parcel ” store and a cuttings store which realised a profit of £6 15s 6d. Four members, Mesdames. E.Hobson, A.Fallas, D.Horncastle and Maud Turner delighted the rest of the members with a reading of a one-act play ” A Dish of Tea “.

Not suprisingly there was a good attendance at the April meeting when a Mr.Pickard gave a talk on wine-making with particular emphasis on Port, Sherry and Madeira.  His samples were much appreciated!

60 members attended the June meeting and stood in memory of Mrs.Agnes Smith, a member who had died since the last meeting. Details of the fete to be held in July were discussed. Mr.E.Cole, the drama teacher at Holmfirth Secondary School, spoke on the Gondoliers and brought a party of past and present pupils who had taked principal parts in the opera when it had been staged in March and musical numbers from the opera were given. Mrs.E.Fox read her prize winning essay ” My Society ” and the choir sang items that they had given at the Grimethorpe Rally.

They were very unlucky with the appalling weather conditions on the day of their first fete in July and had to  transfer everything to the Zion School classrooms. Mrs.Jan Mackensie of Oldfield opened the fete and various stalls were very quickly sold out. There was also a fortune teller and a “pennies in the bucket” competition. Teas were served to 160 people after which members of the Thongsbridge Keep Fit Class gave a display. The first part of the evening was a film show of the British Isles by Mr.& Mrs. Allan. Hot dogs met with a steady sale and to round off the evening there was miming to “pop music ” and George Preece gained the prize for his miming of ” You were made for me “. The day’s efforts raised £50 towards the funds.

At the July meeting, members stood in memory of Mrs.E.Lockwood and Mrs.K.Gledhill who had died in a road accident since the last meeting. A demonstration was given by Miss Smith, a representative of a margarine company and members were able to sample various sandwiches.

A team of ambulance men from Huddersfield were the main attraction at the August meeting when they gave a lecture on mouth-to-mouth resuscitation more commonly known as the “kiss of life “. Miss Janet Lax judged the entries for the plain and fancy buns made by the members and awarded the prize for the plain buns to Mrs.Susan Turner and for fancy buns to Mrs.J.Mosley and was herself presented with a spray of roses by Mrs. Stangroom.  There was no information available for the whole of 1965 as the issues of the Express were not put on microfilm.

The first meeting in 1966 was a Whist & Beetle Drive which raised £5 for the ‘Meals on Wheels ‘ services. The MC for the whist was Mrs.E.Hobson and the prizewinners were Miss E.Brammall, Miss M.Wimpenny, Mrs.E.Horncastle, Mrs.L.Woodcock and Mrs.M.Parker. For the beetle drive the MC was Miss E.Parker and the prizewinners were Mrs.P.Bray, Miss Sandra Day, Mrs.M.Robinson, Miss B.Trueman, Mrs.J.Hellawell and Mrs.E.Hart. Prizes were presented by the president, Mrs.N.Lax. February was the occasion of the Annual bulb and handicraft show and Mrs. N.Lax welcomed members from neighbouring WIs. Mr.Smith of Huddersfield Parks Department judged the entries in the flora and plant classes and Mr.Eastwood of Thongsbridge judged the cookery and handicrafts. At the March meeting a film show was given by Mr.Stead of a tour of Norway which was followed by the story of the making of Hovis bread and Robertson’s preserves. All the members present received a free sample of marmalade. The following were elected at the Annual meeting in October 1966. President – Mrs.N.Lax.  Vice – presidents – Mrs.Speake and Mrs. Mosley. Seretary – Mrs.A.Allan. Treasurer – Mrs.J.Hoyle. The committee members were mesdames, P.Bray,A.Fallas, S.Gledhill, E.Hobson, D.Horncastle and Miss Robinson.

At the AGM in November 1967 the following members were elected – President – Mrs.J.Mosely. Vice – Presidents – Mrs.H.Stangroom and Mrs.J.Swallow. Secretary – Mrs.M.Speak, Treasurer – Mrs.J.Hoyle. Committee members were Mrs. Bailey,Horncastle,Hobson, Helliwell, Stephenson and Fallas. Their Christmas Fayre in December gave a profit of £167. Not many of  the WI meetings in the late 1960s and 1970s were reported in the Express. At the March 1968 meeting , Mr.G.Grimwood gave a talk on beautiful gardens of Britain and the winners of the ‘miniature gardens on a dinner plate ‘ competition were Mrs.Zatarski, Mrs. Mosley, Mrs. Bailey and Mrs. Mudd.  Mrs. Kenyon of Denby Dale was the speaker at the June meeting and her subject was ‘Playing, Speaking and Acting’ and to demonstrate she was accompanied by four members of her drama group. The president informed the meeting that the subscriptions for 1969 would be raised to 10/- and that during the month members had visited a nursery garden at Highburton and the Group Rally at Emley. 

The 1971 Christmas Party took the form of a whist drive and social evening. 65 members attended and the games were organised by Mrs.Helliwell and Mrs.Hardy.  Mrs.Hobson ran the whist drive and Mr.Jackson was responsible for the quiz. The evening closed with carols led by Miss Dorothy Shaw  accompanied by Mrs.Shaw. A session of crazy whist was arranged by Mrs.J.Allen at the start of their Christmas party in 1978. Winners were Mrs.Caldwell, Mrs.Hobson, Mrs.Hollis and Mrs.Mosley and after a buffet supper the Second Harmony Group for Netherthong entertained with songs and led the carol singing. Mrs.Joan Henderson presided, Mrs.Hardy won the prize for the best cracker and the yearly prize went to Mrs.Sandford.

Short reports of most of the meetings of the W.I. appeared in the Express during the 70s. They gave the topic/talk of the meetings but little more. I have only included those meetings which were a bit more informative. At the 1972 January meeting Miss Nita Valerie told a large group of members about her life in the theatre and thanks were given by Mrs. Allan. The competition for the oldest programme was won by Mrs. Sykes with an entry dated 1902. 31 members visited Hope in Debyshire in July to see the traditional well dressings- there were three dressings all depicting Biblical scenes and they were made of flowers, petals, leaves, lichen and dried material set in clay. The Group’s monthly meeting was in the form of a flower demonstration by Mrs. Thornton of Honley. A competition for an all-green arrangement was won by Mrs. Hardy. The Autumn Show in October was held in the Day School and there were 142 entries spread over 19 classes. These were Handicrafts ( 3 classes ), Knitting ( 2 classes ), Crochet ( 2 classes ), Plants ( 2 classes ), Floral Art ( 4 classes ), Cookery( 4 classes ), and Preserves ( 2 classes ). Over 60 members and friends were served with afternoon tea.  The winners included Mrs.King, Mrs.Wilkinson, Mrs. Sandford, Mrs. Lawton,  Mrs. Kaye, Mrs. Speak, Mrs. Allan, Mrs. Wilson, Miss Wimpenny, Mrs. Hobson, Mrs. Lockwood, Mrs. Sykes, Mrs. Shaw, Mrs. Hardy, Mrs. Lax, Mrs. Parker, Mrs. Mosely and Mrs. Robinson. The last report for 1972 was for the AGM when highlights of the past year were recalled. Mrs. M.Peak was elected President, Mrs. J.Mosely as Secretary and Mrs. M.Sykes as Treasurer. Entertainment was provided by Mr. & Mrs. D.Ball who played zither music.

The guest speaker at the February 1973 meeting was the chief sub-editor of the Huddersfield Examiner who said that 150 staff were employed to produce 50,000 copies of the paper six days a week. In December 1974, 50 members attended their Christmas Party. Nine young music pupils of Alfred Boothroyd brought their instruments and played some carols and old favourite songs. After a traditional supper, card-bingo was played. Mrs. Dearnley won a competition for a Christmas cracker.

At the AGM in October 1975, Mrs.Hardy was elected president for a further year along with the secretary, Mrs.Parker and treasurer,Mrs.Speak. The elected committee members were Mrs.McKenney, Mrs.Stangroom, Mrs.Mosely, Mrs.Sandford, Mrs.Lyle, Mrs.Hobson and Mrs. Dickinson. All the members were given a report of the autumn Council Meeting at York and afterwards Mrs. Hellawell organised games. Mrs. Parker was elected President at the 1977 AGM. Mrs. McKenna was elected secretary and Mrs.Speak the treasurer.  At the 1978 AGM, Mrs.Margaret Parker , the retiring president, was replaced by Mrs. Jean Hemderson and Mrs. Audrey Allan replaced Mrs. Rita McKenna as the secretary. Mrs.Mary Speak was re-elected as treasurer. The committee members were Mesdames Farrell,Gething,McKenna,Mosley,Pitcher, Sandford and Stangroom. 

There was a well attended meeting in March 1979 when members listened to a talk by a Bailiff Bridge Chemist on Pills and Potions. No free samples !! Afterwards there was an exhibition of unusual bottles.  The following week a party of memberstravelled to Barnsley by coach to see the Town’s amateur operatic society’s production of The New Moon.

After the conclusion of normal business at their meeting in March 1980, Mr.Biltcliffe of Pennine Nurseries gave a long and very interesting demonstration on the making of a bottle garden. The competition for the healthiest plant was won by Mrs. R. Jones with Mrs. J.Henderson and Mrs. Pitcher 2nd. and 3rd. In July Mrs. J.Henderson, president, reported that she had attended the funeral of Mrs. Alice Wilkinson, who had been one of the founding members and the meeting stood for one minute’s silence. Mrs. Lyth, cake, and Mrs.Speak, hanging basket, both took their items to display at the WI stand at the Yorkshire Show, In September, in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of the inauguration of the Yorkshire Federation of WIs, the members decided to hold a dinner party on September 18 at the Travellers Rest , Brockholes.

The Women’s Institute held their Spring Show in May 1991 in the J and I School and cooking, flower arranging, handicrafts and photography were all displayed and judged. The photograph shows from left : Audrey Allan, Netherthong WI president, Lynne Clark, secretary Marianne Wilson, Sheila Gledhill and Joyce Rothwell.

WI members at Spring Show May 1991
WI members at Spring Show May 1991

Male Voice Choir

The Netherthong Male Voice Choir was formed by Arthur Sanderson in 1926 when he was only 21. A dozen or so of his friends used to sit on fences and sing when they went on walks and they decided to hold a meeting with a view to forming a male voice choir. News spread and more men joined. The first rehearsals were held in the Zion Sunday school and by the end of the year their numbers had reached 30. The first piece of music they rehearsed was “ Awake aeolian lyre “  and the pieces were generally of a lighter type with an alto lead. They entered musical festivals and one of their earliest successes was at Barnsley Music Festival in 1928.They won  1st. prize and re-gained it several times over the years at this festival up to 1939. In October 1934, the choir broadcast from Leeds in the programme “ Sounding Brass and Voices “.

Their AGM was held in June 1928 with Mr.H.Sanderson in the chair. The following officers were elected. Conductor – A.Sanderson, deputy – R.Buckley, accompanist – E.Risby, deputy – R.Singleton, secretary – G.Wood, treasurer – J.Dixon, librarian – G.Charlesworth. A review of the choir’s work since its commencement a year ago showed that it had been very useful and successful. Three months later they  held a Grand Concert in the National School  and the prices of admission ( incl. tax ) were First seats 2/- and second seats 1/6. Children under 14 were  charged 9d.

In March 1929 they returned to the Barnsley Music Festival and won first prize with their test piece ” Cargoes “.Later that year in July they journeyed  to Stocksbridge to take part in the Male Voice Choir section and the special choral class of the South Yorkshire Musical Festival. The party, consisting of members of the choir and supporters, was conveyed in the new “H.M.S.” all-weather coach, a luxurious vehicle. In the male voice section with two test pieces, the Choir was awarded 80 and 86 points for first place just pipping Chesterfield Male Voice Choir. In the special class where choirs could sing two pieces of their own choice they came second to Chesterfield. For winning the Male Voice Choir section they received the Victory Club Cup and £4 4s ( 4 guineas ).

The second Annual Concert by the choir was held in November at the National School. The concert included special artistes and the conductor was Arthur Sanderson. Admission prices were :First seats ( reserved )  2/- : second seats 1/6 and children under 14  9d. The Express carried a  detailed report and said it was a decided success. A further report said the choir received valuable support from the President and Vice-presidents and listed all the officers. President – J.Charlesworth. Vice-presidents – T.Turner,C.S.Floyd, F.Dickinson, W.Wagstaff,T.Goddard, J.Woodhead, W.Batley, F.Ogden, A.Dixon, S.Butterworth and L.Heywood. Officers – Conductor – Arthur Sanderson : Deputy conductor- Robert Buckley : Accompanist – Robert Singleton : Librarian – Frank Wood: Treasurer – Mr.J.Dixon :  Secretary – G.A.Wood.

T.Turner presided at the AGM in March 1930  but no details were given. The following week  they held their Annual Tea and Dance and an excellent meat tea was supplied by Challenger & Hulme of Netherthong. During the evening a presentation was made to their conductor, Arthur Sanderson, of a framed cabinet photograph of members of the choir recently taken by Bamforth & Co.

They placed a public notice in the Express about their 3rd. Annual Concert which was to be held in the Drill Hall in Holmfirth on January 3rd. 1931. The following month the members of the choir and their friends held their annual party in February 1931 and substantial tea was followed by dancing to the Roses band. At the South Yorkshire Music festival held at Stocksbridge in July the Choir won the Stocksbridge Temperance Cup for special choral competition.

Having held their 3rd. Annual Concert in January, they proceeded to hold their 4th. Annual Concert in October in the National School. The conductor was A.Sanderson and the artistes were Miss Phyllis Young – contralto, Frank Dickinson – bass and Clifford Gamer – entertainer. Tickets were 2/- numbered and reserved, 1/6 reserved and 1/- unreserved. There was a large attendance and numerous encores. The 5th. Annual Concert was held in October 1932 in the National School but the attendance was moderate due to the wet weather. The same month they competed at the 35th. Annual Summerscales Music Festival at Keighley and won the 3rd. prize in the male chorus ( B ) class out of ten entries

The  photograph of the choir below could be from 1934? Arthur Sanderson is seated in the middle of the front row holding his baton and  many of the other members have been identified.

Back row standing from l to r.  ?  , ?, Robert Singleton, Herman Beaumont, Robert Hudson, Raymond Charlesworth, Lewis Charlesworth, Arthur Buckley.

Middle row standing. Raymond Gill, Albert Cartwright, Thomas Dufton, ? , ? , Eric Rusby, Reggie Hirstle.

Front row seated . Topping , Smith, ? , Frank Wood, Philip Dixon, Arthur Sanderson, ? , Eric Porter , ? , Cecil Hoyle

Front . Eddison Taylor ,  shield & cup , Walter Mallinson.

Choir & trophies 1934
Choir & trophies 1934

 

In the following photograph the choir has more trophies and shields than in the one above and they are not dressed in their ” singing costumes “. It could have been taken in 1939 before the choir disbanded for the war.

 

Choir and trophies
Choir and trophies

 By 1931, the choir had 40 singers and achieved their highest standard of performance. It had 10 first tenors, 8 second tenors, 9 first bass and 13 second bass. They held their very first ” sing ” at a field at  Oldfield in July 1933 – they began at 7am with a good attendance. Later that year in November they made their first appearance at the Huddersfield Town Hall Popular Concert alongside other artistes. 

 On Christmas Day 30 members of the Choir went round the district singing carols at various places. On the same day a party from the Working Mens Club followed their annual custom and also went round carol singing.

The choir received a rare honour  in October 1934, when they broadcast from Leeds in the programme “ Sounding Brass and Voices “. The Choir held their annual party in February 1938 which took the form of a tea, a short whist drive, dancing, songs and various competitions under the direction of W.Wood and N.Haigh. A few months later in May the Male Voice Choir promoted an early morning sing at Oldfield Ridge in aid of local charities.

When war broke out in September 1939, the choir broke up and about 12 of them went round singing in a group called “The Pennine Glee Men “. Note however that it is recorded that there was a Netherthong Glee Party who were at the Co-op party in 1882.

They held a general meeting in February 1942 in the Zion Church schoolroom and the president, Walter Wagstaff opened the meeting. J.P.Dixon presented the balance sheet and said a portion of the credit balance had been invested in Defence Bonds, The secretary gave a report of the year’s activities and said that 10 members were in HM Forces and one had been wounded and received a discharge.

After the war, the choir had 26 of the original number left as several members had been killed.  In May 1946 a meeting was held in the Zion Methodist School with a view to restarting the Choir, and between 30-40 old and prospective members were present. Mr.W.Wagstaff presided and he said that the objective was to re-form and he made reference to the boys from the village, including members of the choir, who had made the supreme sacrifice. The finances were in a healthy state. The following were elected . Mr.Wagstaff – president. Conductor- Arthur Sanderson. Deputy conductor – A.Buckley. Secretary – G.Earnshaw. Assistant secretary and treasurer – P.G.Dixon. Libarian – F.Wood.  Auditors – A.Dixon & N.Haigh. Rehearsals would be held on Mondays at 7.45. In September under the conductorship of A.Sanderson they completed in the male voice class at Mexborough Music Festival and were placed 4th. out of the 14 choirs taking part. In May 1947 they organised a concert in the Zion chapel and raised £7 3s 10d  for the Flood Relief Organisation.

Between 1955-1958 membership had reached 40 and during this period they won five festivals in a row. The choir slowly decreased in numbers between 1958-1961 before finally disbanding. This choir and its conductor, Arthur Sanderson, played such an important role in  village life that I have devoted a separate chapter  on the family history of Arthur Sanderson.

They competed in the Mrs. Sunderland musical festival in Huddersfield Town Hall in February 1947 and were placed 5th. out of  11 choirs. It was fund-raising time the following month when they organised  a Whist Drive, supper and dance in the National School. Admission 2/6 and music was by Beaumont’s band. They competed in the Blackpool Music Festival in November . 34 choirs entered but no results were given.

In June 1948 they held a special general meeting in the Zion Methodist Church with Fred Lockwood presiding. The honorary conductor,Arthur Sanderson, unveiled a photograph of L/Corpl. William Heel, a member of the choir, who was killed in Tunisia.

October was fund raising time  and they organised a whist drive, supper and dance in the Council School. Members of the choir served an excellent supper and dancing was to the strains of the Vivian Rawlins Club Swingtet.

 In November they visited  Blackpool and competed in their Musical Festival in the Senior Section for Male Voice Choirs. Previously they had only sung in the B class but their courage in venturing into the higher class was amply justified. Although they did not reach the final round they were placed joint 5th. The conductor, Arthur Sanderson, and the members were well satisfied as they were competing against the pick of male voice choirs in the country.

The Annual party was held in March 1949 in the National School and the guests were welcomed by the president, Fred Lockwood. Tea was followed by a short whist drive before Vivian Rawlin’s Club Swingtet supplied  music for dancing. In October they gave a concert at Wakefield with A.Sanderson conducting and Mrs.E.Mortimer as accompanist.

They returned to Blackpool in November to take part in the annual  Musical Competition. They entered Class A for male voice choirs which had 15 entries but unfortunately they did not reach the final.

In January 1950 they visited Deanhouse County Hospital and sang carols to the patients in various wards. The following month they competed in the Mrs. Sunderland Musical Competition and conducted by Arthur Sanderson they came second in Class A.

The same month they held their AGM at the Zion Methodist Church. The President, Mr.F.Lockwood, presided over a very good attendance. The secretary, Mr.G.Earnshaw, presented his annual report and said that the choir had 47 singing members on the books and he extended thanks to all for the standard the choirhad attained and also referred to the time and patience put in by the conductor, Mr.A.Sanderson. He ended by saying that the club was in a very healthy financial position.  The election results showed no changes with  the following retaining their positions. F.Lockwood – president : Hon. conductor – A.Sanderson. Deputy conductors – A.Walker and S. Whitehead. Secretary – G.Earnshaw. Treasurer – J.Dixon.  Librarian – F.Wood. Accompanist – Mrs. E.Mortimer. Platform steward – A.Charlesworth.  Committee members were – C.Daniel, J.Pell, S.Whitehead, W.Mallinson, S.Wood, A.Bontoft, W.Jones and V.Shaw.

The Choir held a Grand Concert in Holmfirth Civic Hall in April 1950 with Mary Hampshire the  soprano and Keith Swallow as the pianist. The accompanist was D.Lockwood. Tickets were 2/-, 1/6 and 1/- In July the MVC, conducted by A.Sanderson, sang at a special service at All Saints. Mrs. Mortimer accompanied the choir.

The Holmfirth Male Voice Choir which had been formed on July 21 1910 was disbanded in November 1950.

The final event for the choir in 1950 was in December when they took part in a concert in Huddersfield Town Hall.

In March 1951 they placed the following notice in the Express.  ” The Netherthong Male Voice Choir – rehearsals now take place in the Co-op Hall, Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth. Every Monday at 8 pm.”. Presumably they were hoping to attract ex-members from the disbanded Holmfirth Choir.

The same month they held their annual party and elections in the National School. They started with an excellent tea, followed that with a short whist drive and ended with music and singing. F.Lockwood was re-elected as president. The vice-presidents were Rev. S.Black, W.Wood, W.Batley and K.Lockwood. The other positions were Hon. Conductor  Arthur Sanderson with deputy conductors A.Walker and S.Whitehead. G.Earnshaw was the secretary and J.Dixon the treasurer. Mrs. E. Mortimer was the accompanist , Mr.F.Wood the librarian and the platform steward was Mr.E.Fisher. The eight committee members were S.Whitehead, C.Daniel, J.Pell, S.Wood, A. Bontoft, W.Jones, H.Haigh and J.Hirst.

The following month they competed in Class A for Male Voice Choirs at the Cecil Bateson Memorial Festival of Music & Drama at Nelson. They were placed 3rd. in the prize list against two choirs of bigger numerical strength.

Their annual tea, whist drive and social evening was held in February 1953 in the National School and the guests were welcomed by the president, Fred Lockwood. Music for dancing was provided by Mr.F.Beaumont’s Band and during the evening Frank Dickinson entertained with songs and monologues. The following month was the occasion of their AGM which was held in the Zion Methodist School. All the members stood as a mark of respect for the late John Smith, a life member of the choir, and Mrs.W.Batley, a patron. The following officers were elected. F.Lockwood – President. Rev. S.Black, W.Wood, W.Batley & K.Lockwood – vice- presidents. A.Sanderson – conductor. Mr.S.Whitehead – assistant conductor. Mrs.E.Mortimer – accompanist. H.Haigh – secretary. J.P.Dixon – treasurer. F.Wood – librarian. J.H.Brooks – platform steward. S.Whitehead, G.Earnshaw, M.Hamer and J.Brook – committee members.

Later that year in October, they were awarded the 1st. prize, the “Samuel England ” trophy at Holmfirth Music festival for their singing of Elgar’s ” It’s oh! to be a wild wind” which received 89 points out of a 100. They scored 87 points for their second song ” A Wanderer’s Song.” Arthur Sanderson was the conductor and it was the very first time the choir had won 1st.prize.

Their annual tea and social evening was held in the Day School in February in 1954. The President, F.Lockwood,  welcomed all the guests and an excellent tea was provided by Messrs. Beaumont of Meltham. H.Webb officiated at the whist and members of the choir rendered many tunes. The music for dancing was by F.Beaumont’s Band.

The main item of discussion at the AGM held in April which received full support  was to  attempt more enthusiasm for the work of the choir by returning to concert work. The choir should enter the Holmfirth Music Festival and should make a point of holding a concert in the village. It was also agreed to continue to hold rehearsals in the Co-op Hall in Holmfirth. The elections resulted in all the committee and officials being re-elected en bloc.

They continued to compete and at the “Mrs. Sunderland ” Competition at Huddersfield in March 1955 they gained 1st. prize in the Male Voice Choirs “B” class with a total of 263 points. They repeated their success in the same competition in 1958. In the 1955 Holmfirth Musical Competition they won 1st. prize in the Open Class.

A meeting on May 20th. 1964 was a very traumatic affair  as the Choir, which had been in existence for 38 years, was disbanded due to lack of interest which was evidenced as only 12 members were in attendance. Mr.Fred Littlewood, one of the former presidents, was appointed chairman and he said that it was a great pity that the choir should be faced with this situation. A lot of organisations had run down during the past years and it would have been nice if the choir could have carried on but they needed lots of new members to survive.. Mr.Arthur Sanderson, the choirmaster, said that he was not in favourof closing down straightaway. After discussions Mr.Sanderson proposed and Mr.S.Holyroyd seconded ” that the choir be not disbanded and that its members use every endeavour to secure new and younger members and that a further meeting be held at a later date”. A ballot was held and 4 members voted for the proposition and 9 members voted in favour of disbanding. It was decided to allocate £15 to the Zion Church in acknowledgement of the use of the school and £5 to the Village Feast. It was also decided to offer the choir’s music to Honley Male Voice Choir.

 

Arthur Sanderson- Mr.Music

Arthur Sanderson  achieved fame in the village as the founder of the Male Voice Choir and was its conductor throughout its existence as well as being the conductor of the choir at All Saint’s Church. He also composed music and  deserves the title of Mr. Music.

He was born on April 28 1904 at Lower Hagg Farm ( now a private residence ) and was the youngest of 12 children. His father was also called  Arthur and he was born on March 13 1856.  After moving from Hagg ( date uncertain ), the family lived in a house opposite the Zion Chapel and they were definately there in 1907. Arthur went  to  school in Netherthong but there is no record of when he left. He was employed , like so many others in the village, at Deanhouse Mills and at one period worked in the dyeing department. He married Rachel Porter on September 6 1939 at Netherthong either at the Chapel or the Parish Church. He died on July 7 1987 and was buried at the Parish Church.

I have been very fortunate to have given a lot of information and photographs from his son John Sanderson.

As I mentioned above he was the youngest of 12 children – his father was Arthur and his mother was called Jane.  His brothers and sisters were, in order of birth, Herbert born September 14 1878  : Sarah Eliza born December 10 1879  : Brook born September 1881 : Harriet Hannah born June 19 1884 : Clara Jane born April 6 1886 : Harold born October 21 1887 : Emily Ann born September 29 1889 : Herman born October 2 1892  : Edith Annie born November 30 1894 : Ethel Marion born February 15 1896 : Florence Gertrude born December 23 1897.  Apparently it was the custom in those days that daughters were given two christian names at birth whereas the sons were only given one. Arthur Sanderson is seen standing in his garden in the early 1900s.

Arthur Sanderson, born 1856, in his garden in 1900s.
Arthur Sanderson, born 1856, in his garden in 1900s.

The photograph below shows a number of the Sanderson family outside their house which was opposite the Zion Church.They are from l to r  – Herbert, Florence Gertrude, Edith Annie, Arthur ( father ), Emily Ann, Ethel Manon and ? .In the front is a very young ( 3years old ) Arthur.

A family photograph of the Sandersons in 1907 in their house opposite the Zion Church with a very young Arthur in the front.
A family photograph of the Sandersons in 1907 in their house opposite the Zion Church with a very young Arthur in the front.

 

 Like many of his friends he joined the local scout group and the photograph below was taken in 1916 aged 12.

Arthur in his scout's uniform 1916.
Arthur in his scout’s uniform 1916.

He was also a keen sportsman and played football for the Netherthong A.F.C. He started with the Argyles, a youth team, but later progressed to the senior village team. In the first photograph he is seated first left on the bottom row.

Argyle Football Club.
Argyle Football Club.

In the next photograph, note the change of shirt colour, he is seated in the front row , second from the left.

Netherthong A.F.C. in striped shirts
Netherthong A.F.C. in striped shirts

The following photograph of 4 young men on a mission makes one wander exactly what they are up to. The one on the left  has the shears but unfortunately the bottom of the photograph was cropped so  one can only guess that the other three had rakes. They are from l to r : Harold Wimpenny, Arthur Sanderson, George Charlesworth and Arthur Buckley.

4 men on a mission.
4 men on a mission.

 

He formed the Netherthong Male Voice Choir  in 1926 when he was still only 21 but I have given the history of the Choir and all it successes a separate chapter.

In 1927 he appeared in the Netherthong production of H.M.S. Pinafore. The photograph is titled Nether Thong P.C.S.S. H.M.S.Pinafore Easter 1927 and Arthuris the sailor sitting right in the middle of the front row between two ladies.

H.M.S. PinaforeEaster 1927
H.M.S. Pinafore
Easter 1927

He was appointed choirmaster of All Saints Parish Church and took up his duties on Sunday, March 3 1929. At that time he was also a member of the Holmfirth Parish Church Choir, conductor of Netherthong Male Voice Choir, a member of Holme Valley Male Voice Choir and a principal in the Church Operatic Society.

The next photograph is of 10 very smart men all in a row for whatever reason. Difficult to date but would fall between late 1920s/early 1930s. Seven of them have been identified so from the left : Morley Mallinson, George Charlesworth, Bill Buckley, Arthur Sanderson, Gilbert Bailey, ? , Leonard Hilson, ? , ?, Harold Wimpenny.

Line of 10 men - 1920s/1930s
Line of 10 men – 1920s/1930s

His wife to be , Rachel Porter, was a member of the Holmfirth & District Amateur Operatic Society and she starred in their presentation of Our Miss Gibbs which ran from Nov 29 to Dec 3 1927. In the first photograph she is in the front row 3rd. from the left. In the second photograph she is seen in full costume and is the 2nd. from the left of the five girls.

Holmfirth & District Amateur Operatic Society - " Our Miss Gibbs " Dec 1927
Holmfirth & District Amateur Operatic Society – ” Our Miss Gibbs ” Dec 1927
" Our Miss Gibbs " Dec 1927
” Our Miss Gibbs ” Dec 1927

The photograph of Arthur shows him sitting on the steps of the War Memorial in Townsgate with one of the many cups he won with the Male Voice Choir.

Arthur sitting at the village War memorial
Arthur sitting at the village War memorial

I mentioned in the very first paragraph of this chapter that Arthur wrote music and this hymn composed by him  below is titled ” May “.

 

May. A hymn with words and music by Arthur Sanderson.
May. A hymn with words and music by Arthur Sanderson.

 

Music, Entertainment and All That Jazz

 

Music, Entertainment .. and all that jazz.

 

Music is the healing force of the universe – Albert Ayler.

 Singing, dancing , concerts,  fetes, whist drives, often organised to raise funds, were among the wide range of activities that  played an important  part in the social and cultural life and times  of the  village in the 18th. 19th. and early 20th.centuries. The inhabitants would also have travelled by foot or horse to the larger villages such as Holmfirth, Meltham and Honley for special occasions.

However a combination of the railway  at Thongbridge station, the tram terminus at Honley  and  the motor car,  bus and the famous char-a- bancs meant that the villagers were then able to venture further and further afield for their entertainment. This had the knock-on effect that  support for many of the local organisations slowly waned but this was the picture in villages and rural communities across England as people, mainly the young, left for new horizons. Remember the old song – ” How you going to keep them down on the farm after they’ve see Paree ?”

  Let me first amaze and astound you with a not-necessary complete list of the organizations that provided music and entertainment to the villagers. Remember that in those days the word “gay” had a completely different meaning to what it does now and the ” blacking-up ” of entertainers never had any racial undertones.

Netherthong Glee Party  : Netherthong Philharmonic Band ( Mk 1 & Mk2 ) : Netherthong Brass Band : Netherthong Male Voice Choir : Gilbert and Sullivan Operatic Society : The Netherthongsters :The Pennine Glee Men : Honley Hand Bell Ringers : Magic Lantern shows : Mr. Horsfall and Bailey Band : Professor Waldo and his Inimitable Carbonized Minstrels. : Holme Brass Band : Thongsbridge Glee Party : Huddersfield Orpheus Quartette : B.Flitton’s Band : Church organ recitals from all three churches: Church Choirs.

  I also came across a few references for a Netherthong Evening Institute. In April 1947 the Express reported that the 1st. exhibition of work by this Institute had attracted a large attendance. It had 76 students in this first year and there were three teachers. Miss S.Brook taught Instrumental music, Mrs.A.Halstead dressmaking and Miss M.Townsend soft furnishings and leatherwork. In the same month the Netherthong Evening Institute Orchestra under the leadership of Miss Brook gave a concert in the Council School. Solo items were given by Mr.Robert Haig, Mr.A.Charlesworth and Mrs. E.Horncastle and pianoforte duets by Mrs.W.Wood and Miss N.Hale. A collection for Flood Relief Funds raised £4 10s. The next report was in March 1948 and concerned an exhibition, held in the Day School,  of the work  by students. Cllr. G.Holroyd opened the exhibition and complimented the head- master, Mr.W.Hinchliffe, and the teachers and students. It was three years before the following short and sharp  report appeared in the local paper – in March 1951, the Orchestral class under the leadership of Miss Brook  ended their winter session.

   Much of the information for this Chapter was obtained from the local newspaper and a key feature of its reports,  in the early days, was to give very detailed information of events. As an example, if they reported on a concert they would list all the artistes, the full repertoire and who gave thanks etc etc.

One attraction, near Netherthong, which also brought in visitors from the surrounding areas was Wolfstone Gardens, sometimes called Wolfstones Pleasure Ground.  It was shown in the earliest map of 1775 and maps up until 1955 when  the word Gardens was dropped and it reverted to Wolfstones only. Originally Wolfstones and Wolfstones Heights comprised a small community situated between Upperthong and Netherthong. The gardens were established as a place of resort for Holme Valley people who would travel there by wagonette to enjoy picnics and open air dancing and to purchase produce such as grapes from the gardens. Apparently these  gardens boasted of a vine, the roots of which were reputed to be the longest in the UK. I recently came across the following  reference in the September 1865 edition of the Huddersfield Examiner & West Riding Reporter – ” the Celebrated Young Hampton  vine at Wolfstones  contains upwards of 1,400 bunches of fine grapes.”  In the Parish Council minutes of March 12th. 1887 it reported ” John Taylor was given permission to have painted, at his expense, on the Four Lanes End guide post under the directions to Upperthong the words ” and Wolfstone Gardens.” Several months later in July  at Holmfirth Police Court, John Hobson, a farmer at Wolfstones, was summoned by J.Taylor, also of Wolfstones, for 2 offences – assault and damage to a sign-post to the value of 2/6. The complainant was the proprietor of the Pleasure Gardens and the defendant a small farmer adjacent to the Gardens. The case was dismissed.The market gardener in 1901 was Thomas Hardy and later on it was owned by Bamforths who ran it until moving to a chicken factory in Moor Gate. A person called Philip Andrews was the owner from the 1960s and the house was lived in until 2004 until it was reputedly sold for £1.4m.

An even bigger attraction was Hope Bank Pleasure Gardens which covered 30 acres between New Mill Road and Woodhead Road at Honley. It was built by John William Mellor and opened in 1893 or 1895 according to different reports but they all agreed it  closed in 1955. Its normal season was from Good Friday through to the end of the Honley Feast. It had two lakes, the boating lake covered 3 acres and was 3′ deep, the smaller lake was about 1 acre and was very shallow. In addition to tea rooms, a museum, a hall of distorting mirrors, flower beds, ornamental gardens, swing boats, slides, roller skating and the Nil Desperandum pleasure cruiser, it had some exciting activities which included the ” Aerial Flight ” and the Hotchkiss Bicycle railway which had first been tried in Great Yarmouth in 1895 before being transferred to Hope Bank.  There was dancing in the evenings and many artistes, especially comedians, gave performances. Honley Civic Society  produced a superb booklet full of photos and details of the Gardens.

 Prior to Saturday, December 11th.. 1886 , the date of the first edition of a dedicated local newspaper, the Holmfirth Express, the Huddersfield Chronicle reported on a variety of events in the village from 1860 to 1886. This report from January 1871 is interesting  in the style and wording of the report. ‘A grand miscellaneous concert was held in the new school under the distinguished patronage of the elite of the district. The large room was well nigh filled with a highly respectable community. The vocalists included Miss Renshaw- contralto, Messrs. J.R.Mellor, Josiah Mellor and D. Coldwell – tenors. Ben Hirst and B.Eastwood – basses. Mr.W.Sandford was the pianist. ‘ 

 In March 1873 The Mississippi Minstrels of Netherthong made their first appearance of the year in the National School before a crowded and appreciative audience. The programme was replete with all the customary novelties any critical hearer might wish comprising songs, dances, instrumental solos and comic sketches. Among the artistes were D.Coldwell, A.Sykes, R.Eastwood, C.Hobson, J.Eastwood, Carter and Woodcock.  It is very frustrating that this was the first and only reference to the Minstrels.

The  choirs from the three churches, Parish, Wesleyan and Free Methodist,  played  prominent roles in the village along with soloists and accompanists augmenting their music.

 From the minutes of the Netherthong Co-operative Society , which had its first meeting on January 14 1881, there is a note that in Easter  1882 they held a tea party and the entertainers included the Netherthong Glee Party and the Netherthong Philharmonic Band.

 There was obviously a wealth of talent in the  village as, over the years,  it  boasted  of a Brass Band, a Philharmonic Band ( as mentioned above ), a prize winning Male Voice Choir, Church choirs and a Gilbert & Sullivan Operatic Society. I have devoted a separate chapter to the Brass  and Philharmonic Bands.

The Netherthong Male Voice Choir was formed by Arthur Sanderson in 1926 when he was only 21. A dozen or so of his friends used to sit on  fences and sing when they went on walks. They decided to hold a meeting with a view to forming a male voice choir. News spread and more men joined. The first rehearsals were held in the Zion Sunday school and by the end of the year their numbers had reached 30. This choir and its conductor, Arthur Sanderson, played such an important role in  village life that I have devoted a separate chapter on the family history of Arthur Sanderson and also on the choir  with lots of superb photographs ( thanks to his son John ). When war broke out in September 1939, the choir disbanded pro-tempore and about 12 of them went round singing in a group called “The Pennine Glee Men “. Note however that it is recorded that there was a Netherthong Glee Party who were at a Co-op party in 1882.

The National School was filled to capacity for the final performance of ” Billie Taylor” by the Operatic Society which received many encores. It was the general opinion that the opera was the best that had been ever given in the school. The following week the members had a social evening with refreshments,games and dancing to celebrate.

Three performances of ” The Black Swan ” a comic opera were performed in April 1923 in the Parish Church and all attracted large audiences. The Express enthused on the performances and listed the whole cast, headed by Mr.T.Wood as the Black Squire. They  were Mr.C.R.Wood, Mr.H.Horncastle, Mr.W.Horncastle, Mr.Evelyn Barron, Mr.G.A.Wood, Mr.D.Hughes, Mr.B.Lockwood, Mr.E.Rusby, Mr.G.H.Charlesworth, Miss A.Mallinson, Miss E.Beaumont, Miss Edith Beaumont, Miss M.Wimpenny, Miss E.Dickinson and Miss M.Woodhead. The members of the orchestra were P.Dixon, L.Ramsden, J.Hebblethwaite, T.Carter, F.Walker, Miss Beatrice Buckley and Miss S.A.Brook.  Mr.Smith was responsible for the scenery.

The Gilbert and Sullivan Operatic Society of the Parish Church Sunday School had their first public performance in 1927 when they performed HMS Pinafore. The Gondoliers, a two act comedy opera, followed in 1928 and the members were augmented by a number of friends. Four performances were held in the National school and the Express gave a detailed report with a list of all the performers which I have given below. W.Horncastle, E.Booth, G.A.Wood, A.Sanderson, J.P.Dixon, B.Lockwood, W.Leake, R.Dixon, Miss A. Mallinson, Miss W.Brook, Miss Edith Beaumont, Miss Emma Beaumont, Miss Mildred Wimpenny, Miss E. Dickinson, Miss Alice Charlesworth and Miss W.Woodhead. The members of the Ladies’ chorus were – Misses E.Brook, H.M.Buckley, E.Chambers, Annie Charlesworth, C.Charlesworth, E.Charlesworth, W.Gee, A.Ricketts, H.Ricketts,M. Ricketts, A.Wilde, M.Wimpenny and D.Woodhead. The Gents. chorus were C.Bray, A.Dyson, R.Fox, R.Hirstle, R.Hudson, H.Lee and P.Wood. The heralds were L.Mallinson, G.Woodhead, A.P. Cartwright and J.Hobson and the two pages were M.Batley and E.Preston. The members of the orchestra were Mr.A.Buckley ( bass ), J.W.England ( cello ), Miss S.Brook , Mr.S.Whitehead and H.Broadbent, all violins. H.Wimpenny ( clarionette ), F.Chantry and L.Hellawell cornets. R.Whiteley ( drums ) and C.Kaye ( trombone ). T.Wood was the musical director and Miss E.Hallas was the pianoforte accompanist.

 There was a very good attendance at the general meeting of the Society in September with Mr.H.Mellor in the chair. It was decided to continue with G and S and the choice for 1929 would be between The Mikado or The Yeoman of the Guard. The following  officers were elected. Hon.Sec. – G.A.Wood, Hon. acting manager – H.Wimpenny. Hon. musical director – T.Wood. Accompanist – Miss E.Hallas. Stage manager – J.Wilde. A musical committee and a general committee were also appointed. Later that month The Yeoman of the Guard won the vote and by then many of the positions had already been filled. It was produced in 1929 and the principals were Harry Walker, A.Sanderson, B.Lockwood, E.Booth, J.Dixon, C.Bray, A.Cartwright, J.Hobson, G.A.Wood, F.Wood, R.Dixon,  Miss Edith Beaumont, Mrs.H.Senior, Miss A.Mallinson and Miss W.Brook. The Ladies chorus were E.Chambers, Alice Charlesworth, Annie Charlesworth, C.Charlesworth, E.Charlesworth, E.Denton, E.Dickinson, E.Ricketts, H.Ricketts, M.Ricketts, A.Wilde, Marion Wimpenny, Mildred Wimpenny and D.Woodhead. The Gents. were F.Dufton, R.Fox, R.Hirstle, R.Hodson, W.Leake, R.Ricketts, H.Shaw and G.Woodhead. J.E.Goddard was the musical director and the members of the orchestra were- Miss A.Brook and Messrs.S.Whitehead, H.Knutton and M.Milnes – violins. J.W.England – cello. A.Buckley – bass. F.Chantry and L.Hellawell cornerts. H.Downes – clarionette. S.Brook – oboe. R.Whiteley – drums. C.Kaye – trombone. The accompanist was Miss E.Hallas.

Earlier in that year the Society had held a Carnival Dance with hats, caps, balloons and streamers in great demand. The programme of dance music was by the Arcadian Dance Orchestra with Mr.C.Bray as MC.  A gramophone recital for the benefit of the Operatic Society was given by Mr. J. Wilde to a large assembly.

The Mikado in 1930 featured the appearance of Frank Dickinson who was well know nationally and the Society were very fortunate to acquire his services. There  were extremely good reports and good attendances at all four concerts. They continued to perform C&G operas and ,from time to time, repeated certain favourites. They did not reform after the war.

Cast members of HMS Pinafore
Cast members of HMS Pinafore

The Netherthong Philharmonic Band was formed in 1908.  There were  earlier reports of a Philharmonic Band at the Co-op party in 1882  which also played  at the Christmas party for the inmates of Deanhouse Workhouse in 1886.  I have called this earlier version Mk1 and the new Band in 1908 Mk. 2 and information on both are now detailed in a separate chapter devoted to the Brass & Philharmonic Bands. The conductor was Mr.C.A.Wood and the leader, S.W.Bray.

The Netherthongsters were formed in 1950 and ,with one exception they presented an annual entertainment which delighted the audiences. In their 9th. and last show in October 1959, they gave their normal first-class entertainment and their signature tune ” Here we are again ” was sung by the whole company and opened the programme. The performers were Mrs. Fallas, Frank Mellor, Miss Dickinson, W.R.Wood, Mrs.Wood, Mr.Kemp, Mr.Gledhill, Mrs.Horncastle and Miss Parkman. At the end of this final performance, Mr. Horncastle, one of the original members, told the audience that age had finally caught up with them.

One  way to report the variety and divergence is to  meander the way through the issues of the Express and highlight any items that have an entertainment theme. Some of the reports will also appear in other chapters.

 1886.  At the Parish church annual parochial tea party (150 present ), the choir under the leadership of Mr.Jonathan Hirst rendered “ a choice selection of music”

… and over at the Free Church Sunday School, the chapel choir , accompanied by Mr.B.Fitton, sung Christmas anthems to 120 people…

 ….at 7a.m. on Christmas day at Deanhouse Workhouse, the Netherthong Brass Band  and the Philharmonic Band played in front of the house to about 215 people. After an action- packed day they sat down at 6 p.m. to sing hymns, accompanied on harmonium and violin by Allan Roesbottom.

 1887

At the Deanhouse New Year party, 170 were entertained by the Honley Hand Bell Ringers   …. Later in the month Mr. Pigott, a chemist from Huddersfield, entertained inmates with an exhibition of his magic lantern by lime light…..

…in February there was a Grand Concert under the auspices of the Working Mens Club and artists included : Miss Stephenson, soprano ; Miss Cooke, contralto ; Mr.Haigh, tenor ; Mr.Bartin, bass ; Miss Thomas, solo violinist..

…on June 4, scholars and teachers of the Wesleyan school had a procession ,along with scholars of the Free Church, and, headed by the Netherthong Brass Band, marched to the Workhouse, Oldfield, Deanhouse, Hagg, Thongsbridge and back to Netherthong….

….June 25 was the Jubilee Procession and Netherthong and its Brass Band joined in with Holmfirth…

In September, George Henry Wood died. He was a well known musician and had been leader of the Netherthong Brass Band. He was buried in All Saint’s church/

 1888

The Netherthong football team had supper at the Queens Arms and Joe Sykes brought the house down with his rendition of the Netherthong Football song which was his own composition…

… a Grand Bazaar was held to raise funds for two new classrooms for the school. Entertainment was by Mr. Horsfall & Baileys Band. There was also a conjuror – Professor Waldo and his Inimitable Carbonized Minstrels.

 … in January a Juvenile concert was held in the Town Hall, Holmfirth. It was given by the Netherthong National school with over 200 performers whose ages ranged from 3 to 19.  Rev. J.Prowde was in the chair. There was a large appreciative audience and the programme finished with a performance by the Carbonised Minstrels. All proceeds went to the fund for new class rooms.

 1889

On March 30 , the first of a series of services for men took place in the Wesleyan chapel – there was a large audience and the address was given by Mr.Harris with B.Fitton on organ….

…. On November 9 a procession, headed by Holme Brass Band in their new uniforms, marched round the village to the United Methodist Free School for a public meeting. In the evening there was a concert in the church, which was filled to excess, with the Holme Brass band, the Thongsbridge Glee party and recitations by Fred Hobson.

1890

In February the cricket club held a concert in the National School . It was filled to capacity – 600 and the artists included Miss Marshall, Miss Helena Sykes, Huddersfield Orpheus Quartette, Miss G.Craven ( solo violin ) and Harold Sykes ( solo cornet ).

… also in February Thomas Dyson & Sons, Deanhouse Mill, treated 150 of their employees to the annual treat and B.Fitton’s band played for dancing….

…. The Cricket Club ran a very successful concert in the Church schoolroom which included a mirth- provoking and grotesque ventriloquial entertainment by J.Whelen of Halifax. He caused quite a furore with his two dolls, Joseph and Sarah, who sang songs, duets and comical dialogue.

1891  The Cricket Club held a tea party and concert for 340 at the National School 

1892  In January a children’s concert was given at the Workhouse by members of the various Bands of Hope.

1893  In July the inmates of the Deanhouse Workhouse were allowed to honour the royal marriage of the Duke of York with a dinner and concert.

1895. There was a Grand Concert in the National School in aid of the church restoration fund – attendance was only moderate due to the bad weather. 

1896 . In February at the Wesleyan Sunday School, an American organ ( given by Mrs. Jagger ) was opened….

… in November there was a dramatic performance . A large audience at the National School saw a one act farce entitled “ Wanted a thousand milliners “ followed by a melodrama , in two acts entitled “The dumb man of Manchester “

1897. The Diamond Jubilee of the Queen was honoured and all three church schools and the day school marched to Town Gate and joined in patriotic songs with accompaniment by Mr.J.Hoyle on an iron-framed piano.

1898 In February , Deanhouse Workhouse patients were entertained by St.George’s Troupe of Minstrels with plantation songs and sketches.

1902. The Netherthong String Band promoted a social evening in the National schoolroom. The band, under the direction of Mr.C.Wood, played a choice and varied selection of music. Refreshments were tea, coffee and confectionery – the caterer was Miss Mitchell.

…. In May, the Co-op had its coming of age celebrations – 21 years. There was a public tea and grand concert in the National school and 470 attended. Cllr.A.Alsop presided and he read out the history of the society. The Huddersfield Co-op Prize Choir were the artistes and the audience was afforded a rare musical treat.

March 1909 was a red letter month in the musical annals of the village when a vocal and instrumental concert was given by members of the Netherthong Philharmonic Band plus guest vocalists. Although there was a blizzard raging, the school was crowded with the largest audience for many years.The Band under the direction of S.W.Bray and conducted by Charles A.Wood consisted of 36 members. All the vocal artistes, as well as the accompanist Herbert Cousen ,were natives of Netherthong and Holmfirth. The newspaper report concluded …. ” the demeanour of the members of the orchestra, particularly during the rendition of the vocal items, from the leader down to the tympanists was most commendable  and yes,and especially yes, the gay drum major.”

And now for something completely different  .. The Express carried an advert in October 1909 for the Holmfirth Skating Rink in Ribbleden Road. It had three sessions, morning, afternoon and evening and admission was 6d which included the hire of skates.

1910. The Netherthong Philharmonic Band held its 2nd. annual concert in January in the National School. The Band had arranged an admirable programme which included the engagement of a Netherthong celebrity, Mr. Frank Dickensen, who had acquired a national reputation. Other artistes were Miss Elsie Stringer, soprano : Mr.Tom Johnson, solo violoncello and the accompanist was Mr. H.Cousen.

The band members were :

1st. violins : Mr.W.Bray ( leader ), H.Hinchliffe, Miss F.Hirst, J.Hobson,F.Walker and B.Batley.

2nd. violins : G.Sheard, B.Dyson , R.Thorpe, H.Shore, H.Thorpe and A.Mellor.

Violas : L.Ramsde and A.Hobson.

Violoncello : J.Johnson ( principal ), J.Charlesworth, H. Hobson and H.Mallinson.

Bass : L.Braithwaite and W.Buckley.

Clarionets : D.Wood and C.Woodhead.

Oboe : C.Garner and C.Hanson.

Bassoon : W.Lodge

Horn : H.Clough

Cornets : V.Kay and A.Green.

Trombones : H.Hellawell, M.Bailey and W.Coldwell.

Drums : G.Swindon

1911. In January the Netherthong Philharmonic Band held its 3rd. annual concert in the National School. Mr.C.A.Wood was the conductor, Mr.D.Wood clarinet soloist and Mr.L.Green cornet

   In January 1912 the Netherthong Philharmonic band  held its 4th. annual concert in the National School with Mr.C.A.Wood conducting and Mr. Couzen, accompanist. In spite of atrocious weather conditions there was a large attendance.

1913 saw the 5th. Annual Concert by the Netherthong Philharmonic Band. Once again Mr.C.A.Wood was the conductor with J.Goddard as accompanist. In addition to their own share of the programme they also had the following artistes. Soprano – Miss Florence Sanderson.   Bass – Mr.George Oxley.  Solo violin – Joseph Butterworth who was also the leader.

The Holmfirth Electric Picturedrome in Dunford Road had on its programme for November 1913 the following entertainers. Buckingham’s Performing Dogs, Happy Harry Hollis a comedian and Alice Vernon, Queen of the Brass Instruments, who played solos on cornet and saxophone horn.

 1914.  The Express carried a large advertisement for the 6th. Annual Concert of Netherthong  Philharmonic Band at the National School. The following details were given.

Soprano – Miss Florence Sykes . Tenor – David Oxley . Bass – Arthur Roberts . Conductor – C.A.Wood. Leader – S.W.Bray. Accompanist – J.Goddard. There was also a full orchestra of 30 performers.

Front seats were 1/6; second seats 1/- and the backs 6d.

A report  several weeks later said the concert was good and well attended.

 In April, the Netherthong Church Sunday school  held a public tea for 200. After the tea, the room was cleared for the entertainment and it was filled by one of the largest, if not the largest, audience that had gathered for many years. The amateur operatic society gave a fine performance of Edmond’s and West’s historical comic opera “ Columbus “. The roles were played by : H.McQue ; William Horncastle;Florence Hirst ; Harry Horncastle; Albert Denton; Stanley Gill ;Tom Wood; George Marsden ; Alice Wood ; Charles Hudson ; Edith Beaumont ; Alice Mallinson ; Emma Beaumomt ; Laura Boothroyd and Beatrice Hobson.

In December there was public tea and concert in the National School to raise funds for the lads serving their King. Over 800 sat down to tea. The first part of the concert was given by the infant children. The second part was full of songs, many patriotic and the concert lasted three hours. Proceeds were £18.

 1917  .January. If the residents wanted a night out they could go to the Picturedrome in Dunford road – the film was Just Kitty and The Passing of Pete. They were shown continuously from 7 to 10.30am. Prices with tax were 2 ½ d, 4d, 5d and 7d. The Valley Theatre also showed films.

Mr. Frank Dickenson, the well-known Yorkshire basso profundo, who has been mentioned several times in this chapter, visited his birthplace, Netherthong, after being demobilised from the Durham Light Infantry. He was in the army for three and a half years, seven months of which was spent in the Ypres section before being drafted into a concert party and visiting  camps in France and Belgium. Pre-war he had scored many successes in competitions and in 1908 he had made a very successful first appearance at Queen’s Hall Promenade Concert and was well received by the newspaper critics who described his voice as a full, round,rich basso.

The very first Netherthong Music Festival was held in June 1921 but surprisingly I could find no report in the Express. The  report for  1922 simply said it had been held in aid of funds for the Holme Valley Memorial Hospital. The 3rd.  one on June 24 1923 had been  held in a field and had  been very popular. C.A.Wood was the conductor and the Orchestral Band was under the leadership of Jack Butterworth.  £15 was given to the local hospital. The 4th. Annual Music festival was held on June 29  in a field near the National school but the weather was not the best. A collection was taken at the gate with the proceeds being shared between the Holme Valley Memorial Hospital and the Netherthong Memorial for the fallen and a donation was also given to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. Mr. Lancaster, a well known figure in the Holme Valley who occupied the position as chairman of the Festival, said he would clear the debt still outstanding on the village War memorial.

There was considerable individual talent in the village and, in March 1924, Miss Olive Smith, soprano, passed the advanced grade of rudiments of music with 94 points out of 99 at the recent local examinations of the Royal College and Royal Academy of Music.

 1925. In a change of editorial policy, the front pages of the Express were full of details of the entertainments available. Huddersfield had more than 25 cinemas and theatres among them being the Picture House, Victoria Hall, Theatre Royal, Palace Theatre, Empire Picture House, Hippodrome etc….

…the Fifth Annual Netherthong Musical Festival was held on Sunday, June 21 in a field near the National School. Special Hymns and Choruses from Messiah and other works. The Conductor was Mr.Tom Wood and the Leader of the Band was Mr. Jack Butterworth. The following  is a copy of the programme ( sorry about the quality ).

Programme for the 5th. annual Musical Festival . June 22 1925
Programme for the 5th. annual Musical Festival . June 22 1925

The 6th. Annual Music Festival in 1926 was held in a field near the National School and the conductor was Mr.Herbert Fisher. As usual it was in aid of the Holme Valley Memorial Festival but for the first time some of the proceeds were given  to the Huddersfield Deaf and Dumb Institute.

The Express carried a large advert at the beginning of April 1927 for the forthcoming production of H.M.S.Pinafore which would be held in the National School on Easter Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, April 19,21,23. Doors would be open at 7pm and the concert would start at 7.30pm. Admission for numbered and reserved seats would be 2/-, second seats 1/6 and back seats 1/-. The whole production would be under the personal direction of Mr.L.Fuller, Mr.T.Wood as Hon. Musical Director and Mr.J.Goddard as Hon. Accompanist. The Express carried a full report on the performances and gave a  list of all the people taking part.  The principal characters were played by : W.Horncastle, H.Horncastle, A.Sanderson, G.A.Wood, B.Lockwood, J.Dixon, Miss E.Denton, Miss Edith Beaumont, Miss A. Mallinson and Miss Emma Beaumont. They were supported by a well balanced chorus consisting of : G.Bailey, J.Brook, G.Charlesworth, R.Dixon, R.Hirstle, J.Illingworth, R.Knutton, R.Mayho, F.Rusby, V.Sykes, T.Wood and misses A.Bailey, Alice Charlesworth, Annie Charlesworth, C.Charlesworth, F.Charlesworth, E.Dickenson, A.Hay, L.Hay, Emma Knutton, Ellen Knutton, D.Mallinson, K.Mallinson, L.Scholfield, M.Smith, A.Ricketts, H.Ricketts, A.Wilde, Marion Wimpenny, Mildred Wimpenny, D.Woodhead and M.Woodhead.

The members of the orchestra were : Violins – Miss S.Brook and Mr.S.Whitehead. Cello- Mr.J.England. Bass- Mr.A.Buckley. Clarionette- Mr.H.Wimpenny. Cornet – Mr.P.Chantry. Drums – Mr.R.Whitley. Credit was also given to : Mr.F.Smith from Manchester who supplied the costumes. H.Smith from Holmfirth for the scenery and F.Porter from Deanhouse who was in charge of the lighting.

 1927. The 7th. Annual Sing ( name changed in the news report? ) was held in the National School in July instead of the open air due to the weather. President – J.Woodhead JP : Treasurer – Arthur Dixon : Secretary – Thomas Dyson : Conductor – J.W.Charlesworth.

The 9th. Annual Musical Festival in 1929 had a large and varied programme and the proceeds were in aid of the Holme Valley Memorial Hospital, the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and the Huddersfield Deaf and Dumb Institution. The Tenth Annual Netherthong Musical Festival was held on Sunday, June 22. The music was the same selection as for the 5th. festival. The conductor was Mr.J.W.Charlesworth and Miss S.A.Brook the leader of the band. See photo below.

Programme for the 10th.Annual Musical Festival . June 22 1930
Programme for the 10th.Annual Musical Festival . June 22 1930

 The Express didn’t always report on the Annual Music festivals but the number sequence confirmed that they had been  held and all that was mentioned about the 13th. festival in July 1933 was that the attendance was down due to the threatening weather.The 17th. Music festival (1937 ) was also affected by bad weather and was held in the parish Church.  The 18th. Annual Music Festival for May 1938 was originally intended to be held in a public field but due to the weather had to be held in the Parish Church. The 19th. Annual Festival was also affected by bad weather and moved to the Church and was enjoyed by a large attendance and the collection amounted to £8 19s 1d. The report on the 20th. Annual Festival said simply that it had been held in the Church.

…. In July, the Netherthong Male Voice Choir won 1st. prize at the South Yorkshire Music Festival at Stocksbridge.

1931. For four days in April the Netherthong Church Amateur Operatic Society presented The Mikado.

Musical success. Brenda Joyce Billington of the County Institution , Deanhouse, passed the First Steps Division in pianoforte playing at the exams at Trinity College of Music, London in January 1938. She was a pupil of Winifred Sanderson, LTCL, Chapel House. Two further successes occured the following month at examinations held at Bradford when both Ellen Winifred Hobson and Audrey Doreen Billington passed at pianoforte.

The Express reported on an Early Morning Sing in June 1934 which apparently was an annual event held at Oldfield Ridge. The Netherthong Male Voice Choir led the singing and the proceeds for the Holme Valley Memorial Hospital amounted to 22s.

 1939. The General meeting of the Male Voice Choir was held in March at the Zion Methodist school.There was a strong balance sheet and Walter Wagstaff was re-elected as President, Arthur Sanderson as conductor, Edison Taylor, treasurer and George Earnshaw secretary. The annual tea and social had taken place the previous week in the national school.

 In June, at the Cleethorpes Music Festival, the Netherthong Choir won the Choir Trophy Class. At the same Festival the Honley Male Voice Choir also won a 1st. prize in the male voice class ( alto lead ).

 The names of the choir were : E.Taylor ; J.Topping : J.Smith : F.Kensworthy ; M.Daniel ; G. Charlesworth : W. Leaks : W.Shaw : D. Birch : A.Shaw : J.Dixon : J.Hobson : A.Sykes : G.Shaw : L.Brook : J.Beaumont : C.Daniel : W.Mallinson : O.Hirst : H.Sanderson : W.Jones : A.Buckley : J.Mettrick :C.Smith : F.Wood : V.Shaw : W.Heale ; H.Hollingworth: E.Mortimer : C.Hobson : R.Dixon : B.Mellor : W.Rye . A. Sanderson was the conductor.

   Formed 15 years ago, about 40 members from Holmfirth, Honley and Meltham Districts formed a choir. It broadcast in 1937 when it was the first to perform in the series “ Music for the People “. It had competed at musical festivals at Lytham, Harrogate , Huddersfield , Bingley, Keighley , Stocksbridge , Leicester, Barnsley and Cleethorpes.

 In October Mr.Arthur Sanderson, formerly of Netherthong, and Miss Rachel Porter of Deanhouse were married in the Parish Church. Besides being the conductor of the Male Voice Choir, Arthur was also the choirmaster at the church. Mr. Frank Wood of Netherthong was the best man.

Winifred Sanderson, Chapel House, made the news three times in 1937. The first one was in January when she  successfully obtained the Licentiate Diploma, LTCL,  for Pianoforte Teachers in examinations held in  Trinity College of Music, London.  The next occasion was in July at the Trinity College of Music  examinations held in Bradford when  two of her pupils, Ellen Hobson  ( Outlane ) honour and Peter Davis ( ( Home Leigh ) pass were successful  in the Initial Division. The final report was in December when once again , one of her pupils, Ellen Hobson was awarded the prize for excellence in Pianoforte by gaining honour in the Initial Division with 90 marks.

1940. In January to aid the War Service Comfort’s Fund, a Supper and dance was held at the Church School. Tickets were 1/6 and dancing was to Ken Bailey’s Band…

…. A Smoking Concert  in aid of the Red Cross and Comforts Fund was arranged by Arthur Fieldhouse and held at the Clothier’s Arms.  The special artists were not named in the advertisement. 21/- was raised .

 The Express carried a report headed “ Britain’s Oldest Woman Organist “. It said that Mrs. Sarah W. Jackson of St.Annes Square who was 89 years old was perhaps the oldest woman organist in Britain and possibly in the world. Since the age of 17 she has been the “ voluntary “ organist at Netherthong Parish Church. She refuses to admit she is old, eats what she likes, dresses carefully and enjoys company. Up until a few years ago she was a regular on the Choir’s annual trips.

 In October 1942 the Netherthong Light Orchestra , which had been in existence since before the war, suspended its activities and forwarded the balance of £1 15s to the Dunstan’s Institute for Blind People. The Annual Music festival had been a feature in the village for many years,  but a report in the paper for May 1947 said that a meeting had been held in the day school with the object of making arrangements for the annual festival. Unfortunately the only people who attended were the secretary and treasurer who decided that owing to the lack of interest the festival would not be held.

 1951. In March the Netherthong Male Voice Choir held its Annual Party in the National School with a whist drive and concert. The Hon. Conductor was A.Sanderson…

…. Also in March the Netherthong evening school orchestral class, under the leadership of Miss.S.Brook, held a musical evening. To illustrate the variety of entertainment available in the village, the Nether Thongsters Concert Party  presented a new show in the Day School in November with two performances both with large audiences. The cast were Mrs.R.Fallas, Mr. & Mrs. W. Horncastle, Miss E. Dickenson, Miss M.Parkman, Mr. & Mrs. W.Wood, Mr.W.Gledhill, Mr.David Birch and Mr.W.Jones.  Mrs. Fallas compered the show, Mrs. Wood was the accompanist and the make-up was by Mr.Wylbert Kemp. £20 was raised for funds.

The 1950s and 1960s were one of the most exciting periods of popular music with the explosion of of Rock’n’ Roll  in all shapes and sizes . Anyone reading this who was born in the 40s and 50s would have grown up with this musical adventure and would have heard of and listened to legends such as Elvis, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, Little Richard and many more. This era gave rise to many local groups and I’ve listed below some of them who appeared at  venues in Holmfirth and would have entertained  teenagers from the village. Denny and the Witchdoctors. Shane Fenton and the Fentones. Ray Hunter and the Downbeats who later became Ray Hunter and the Phantoms. Sam Brown and the Escorts. The Tuxedos. Rod Steven and the Phantoms. Mick and the Tornados. Sammy King and the Voltaires and last but not least Garry Stevens and the Overlanders. If you are in your 60s/70s some of these local names names may ring a bell. Long live Rock ‘n’ Roll.

 Some of you may remember the popularity of Wrestling in the 1960s. It had its own TV programme at peak viewing times  and many of the wrestlers became household names. Holmfirth Civic Hall ran professional Wrestling Tournaments once a month on a Saturday night. The contestants on March 2nd. 1968 were;

The world’s heaviest boxer – Klondyke James ( from Alaska ) v Tom Hansen ( Huddersfield newcomer ). Chinese Chang ( from the Orient ) v The Zulu ( from Africa ).  3rd. bout was Buddy Ward ( Liverpool ) v the Undertaker ( who sleeps in his coffin and carries it into the ring ). And finally a ladies bout between Naughty Nancy Barton ( London ) against Virginia Keyhole ( USA).

And now to the other entertainments and attractions available to the inhabitants  

In the late 1600s, foot –racing was extremely popular and normally took place on the highways. Its growth continued and in 1859 Honley converted its cricket field into one of the finest tracks for foot-racing. Athletes came from all parts of the country to compete and champions were objects of hero-worship. It attracted great crowds  and large sums were wagered. In 1864 the race-track was closed and another one was opened in Oldfield but it didn’t stay in existence very long. 

  In the 1700s and 1800s  the inhabitants of Netherthong, although fairly self contained,  would have travelled to the  surrounding villages, Holmfirth, Honley and Meltham to attend their festive activities. The yearly Honley Feast would have been high on their list as it included  attractions such as  Pablo’s Circus, Wombell’s menagerie, Wild’s Theatre and Taylor’s Bazaar plus Waxworks, Swings, Roundabouts, Flying- boxes, Shooting-tents, Pea Saloons and more. There were many stalls with brandy snaps, nuts, fruits and casks of home-made beer.

 Bull- baiting was a popular sport and was patronized by Royalty ( Queen Elizabeth , King James 1 and Queen Ann ) . It featured at the Honley Feasts and attracted large crowds. In 1802 a Bill was introduced to suppress it but it was not made illegal by law until 1835. Cock-fighting was  a national sport until it too was declared illegal by law.

 The Meltham Shows would have had a similar format and walking the 4 miles from Netherthong along Moor Road would not have been a deterrent.  

 Although  further to walk the Sheep Dog Trials at Harden would have been visited by hardy enthusiasts from the village.

 The motor car was still a curiosity in the village in 1905 and one of the frustrations of writing this history was my inability to find who, in the village, owned the first car. In that same year the Huddersfield Branch of the Yorkshire Automobile Club organized a hill-climbing contest which started from Honley Station and proceeded to the top of Shale Hill

 In the early 20th. Century with the birth of “ moving pictures” the short walk down New Road into Holmfirth gave the inhabitants the choice of two theatres. The Holmfirth Electric Picturedrome in Dunford Road and the  one in Victoria Street, had live entertainment as well as the latest movies.

In 1910, the Holmfirth Skating rink in Dunford Road was regularly advertised in the local paper.

The turn of the century saw many new activities and clubs start up and it is not unreasonable to assume that  inhabitants of Netherthong would have become members. One such club could have been the Victoria Homing Bird Society.

In May 1973 the Huddersfield School of Music Chamber Choir gave a recital in the Parish Church. Although it was scheduled to start ay 7.30 pm it was delayed for the late arrival of the Holmfirth bus.

The Holmfirth Folk Club which used to hold its sessions at the Victoria Inn moved to the Royal Oak at Upperthong in May 1976 and one of the singers at that first evening was Sherry Earnshaw from Netherthong.

At the 33rd. Holmfirth Musical Festival there were special prizes for a boy and girl living in the Holmfirth parish who gained the most marks in piano solo classes. The one for the boy was called the Netherthong Zion Trophy and it was won by Paul Hollingworth of Holmfirth.