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. Below are four photographs of the various attractions.

Hope Bank 1
Hope Bank 2
Hope Bank 3
Hope Bank 4

 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.


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/


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.


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.


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.

The village also boasted its own rock ‘n’ roll group called Midnight and the express of November 23 , 1984 printed the photograph below. Unfortunately it did not list the members of the band but, if any of you read this, let me know.

Midnight rock group 1984



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