It’s good to fill in some blanks which exist in the History section of the choirs life. One of our members, Chris Bowley, is interested in the local history of the area and has found the attached picture of the choir in 1957. Having posted this on facebook, it is interesting to see how many people have knowledge of, and relationship to, the choir.
Alfreton Male Voice Choir Picture c1957
Sent in by Choir Member Chris Bowley – CAN WE IDENTIFY ANYONE??
Picture believed taken at Croft Infants School, Alfreton.
Comments/Suggestions from Facebook
Peter Lowe (via info@)
Regarding the history photographs I think the art teacher, at the secondary school ,Mr Tinkler is on several of them in particular the last one where he is the one with his hands clasped in front of himself. Sorry if I’m wrong.
I think my grandads on this. George Mansfield back row 1st left. Both him and my dad Melville (Arthur) Mansfield was in it. We do have some pictures of dad with the choir along with Herbert Gratin and John Bunning.
Was Percy Slater conductor?
I think Percy Thompson is at the end of 2nd row from back right-hand side.
Jim Fairclough. Alf Buckley. Herbert? Was conductor.
I can identify 2 people.
Left of centre at the front my Grandpa, George Roe (local builder), and my Uncle standing left end of centre row – Leslie Roe.
Percy Thompson, 2nd row from back, end right hand side. George Mansfield back row left hand side end my grandad. Not sure if Percy Slater was conductor.
I think the conductor was called Albert Walton.
Sid Bacon is on there 2nd row 3rd from right.
Martyn Taylor – Cockayne
Alfreton Male Voice Choir, along with many others at the time (such as Pye Hill Male Voice Choir) held singing Festivals, which were competitions involving prizes (1st, 2nds and 3rds) Cups and Shields. The 1957 Alfreton Festival was held on the 12th of April and one of the Cups on loan to the Alfreton Choir was the Pye Hill M.V.C. Cup. In February 1971 Alfreton MVC and Pye Hill MVC amalgamated to form the Erewash Valley M.V.C. with the first practise held in Alfreton Hall. This was short lived and Pye Hill MVC re-emerged in 1972. Interesting to note, there was also an Alfreton Female Voice Choir that ran concurrent to the Men and all choirs mentioned here contributed to BBC Radio.
I think this was taken in front of the Croft Infant School. I recognise Herbert Foister (might be Forster) who is sitting at the right-hand corner of the centre square shield in a dark suit wearing glasses. He was caretaker at the school in the 50’s and was also a member of St Martins Church Choir.
On the back row I think is Roy Annable from Stonebroom, next row down on the right looks like John Bunning from Blackwell also on the right could it be Mr Frean from South Wingfield. Could be Roy Annabel, back row far right. John Bunning 4th row 2nd from the right. Mr Fern 2nd row far right. When I sang in the choir, I think Mr Walton was the conductor from South Wingfield.
We have been contacted by Emma Pitchford whose Grandfather, Harold Godfrey was a member of the choir in the 1950’s; apparently in 1952 a BBC radio Home Service recording was released on a 78 rpm disc which Emma’s Nana used to enjoy listening to. Unfortunately the disc was damaged beyond repair and we are trying to locate any information which may help to shed light on the event or locate a copy. We, unfortunately, do not have anyone in the choir who recalls the period in question. Can you help??
This picture from the Derbyshire Advertiser, 2nd May 1947. Harold is in the middle in the pinstripe suit.
Proud achievements in the early years
We are a well established choir, first founded in 1903. Originally formed from two chapel choirs it proved to be very well respected by a wide spectrum of the community. Many choirs were formed in the early years of the 20th Century as a good voice was a natural asset and an inexpensive method of making music when instruments were difficult to afford.
The Great War of 1914 – 1918 took it’s toll on choir activity, as well as many other traditions, and there is little reference to this period. Coming to the 1920’s it is known that the choir won at least one trophy in an important music festival.
During the next 40 years (despite further war) participating in music festivals was an important facet of male voice singing and,between 1931 and 1966, under the direction of Mr. Albert Walton, the choir attended 41 festivals and achieved 29 first, 10 second and 2 third places. In 1971, the choir was amalgamated with Pye Hill and District Male Voice Choir to form the Erewash and District Male Voice Choir. Sadly the Musical Director, Mr Alan Lindley, who sponsored this amalgamation, collapsed and died shortly after on stage at Brownhills Music Festival. Subsequently, some members felt uncomfortable with the new format and reconstituted the Pye Hill Choir, which still exists today.
In 1976 another notable conductor, Mr Frank Smith, took the opportunity to change the name to the Alfreton and District Male Voice Choir, better to reflect its location but to consider a wider catchment area for members. He successfully managed the choir for some years and continued the choir’s festival success.
Unfortunately, in 1988, the deteriorating health of Frank’s wife forced him to relinquish the post of MD, and over the next few years the choir suffered decline due to falling interest and poor support. That was until, in 1997, Mr Louis Spencer became musical director and, with his patience, guidance and understanding the choir was revived and became, again, a successful force at quality concerts and prestigious venues.
It was , therefore a notable milestone in 2003, when a centenary concert was staged at Willersley Castle; (this has turned out to be the first of 50 performances , and rising , since then at this most enjoyable venue). At the 2003 concert, Louis retired as Musical Director and Catherine Haslam carried the baton until 2006. Mr Alan Randle, our Deputy Musical Director held things together until 2007.
In 2007 we came under the watchful eyes of Mr. Terry Clay who, as Musical Director, encourages and leads the choir to achieve and improve our performances. Whilst we no longer perform competitively, we endeavour to maintain the standards we think our audiences deserve. Capably supported by our two accompanists, Lisa and Michael, we continue the Male Voice Choir traditions and strive to follow the course laid down all those years ago.
In 2008 we were awarded a grant from the National Lottery Awards For All Scheme allowing the purchase of new uniforms and new music. It was agreed that the name of the choir would be shortened to the Alfreton Male Voice Choir (it fits on the pocket better).
In 2009 we were granted Charity Status since when we have been delighted to support many charitable organisations.
In 2015 we were invited to perform at the Royal Albert Hall alongside the Cory and Grimethorpe Brass Bands (and 1500 other choristers). Proceeds were to the benefit of Cancer Research UK. And we did it all again in 2018.
It’s a bit like Triggers broom. Had it 20 years and it’s good as new ; only had 4 handles and 6 brush heads.
But after 115 years, the spirit of the choir remains !
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