Whitecroft and District Male Voice Choir in 1931.
Back row (standing) left to right: Messrs. J Dufty, R F James, S Wilding, G Vedmore, R Watkins, K Morgan, J Hook, O Davies, T Davies, R Humphries, F Jones, B Vedmore, W Morgan, C Walker, W H James, J Evans, W Addis, J Harris, G Pritchard, S Hyde.
Row 3: Messrs. L Miles, T Elsmore, F Morgan, A Humphries, W Preest, S Dawe, L Dufty, H Hampton,
W J Hook, H Preest, W Rudge, W Dawe, H Vedmore, C Wintle, P Wildin, W Miles, J Williams, W Jeffrey.
Row 2: Messrs L Nelmes, H Jenkins, H Smith, C Bowdler, W Phipps, R Vedmore, J Clements, C Aldridge, A R Phipps, A T James, F R Phipps, T James, C Phipps, S Phipps, H Craddock, R Ford, A Phipps, F L Wintle.
Front row: Messrs. A Harris, S Wilding, A Hale, H Harris, D Rickards, C Morse, W Harris, R Phipps, H Luker.
Jaquie wrote: "... It is about the Whitecroft and District Male Voice Choir, of which my Great Grandfather, George Pritchard was a member" .
The article that Jaquie sent was published in the Lydney Observer of Friday February 25th, 1966:
It was about 1928 when a group of singers in Whitecroft decided to form a double quartet party for the joy of singing together.
They were Mr Jacob Hook, and his son Jacob, Mr Fred Phipps and his brother Charlie, Mr Harry Harris and his brother Will, Mr Graham Vedmore and his cousin Rowe.
They were practicing in the Memorial Hall when Mr Edgar Adams asked them about bringing in more men from Pillowell and Yorkley, interested in forming a male voice choir which became well known, not only in the Forest, but in many parts of the country, as the Whitecroft and District Male Voice Choir.
In the early days they conducted by Mr Edgar Adams, starting with 20 voices which grew and developed with Mr A M Johnson and Mr Ellis (a tenor soloist at Llandaff Cathedral who for a period worked at Watts Factors, Lydney) assisting. Then Mr Albert R Phipps took the conductorship and Mr A T James became the accompanist and assistant conductor (former accompanists were Mr G Harris and Mr H Smith).
The photograph was taken in 1931, the day after the choir had won the "Lady Bledisloe Male Voice Choir Challenge Cup"at Lydney contest.
They had entered eight contests and won three firsts and four second prizes.
Over the years that followed they won prizes at Cheltenham, Bournemouth, Oxford, Kingswood as well as local competitions at the Forest of Dean Eisteddfod, Ruardean, Walford etc.
They were singing at Ruardean with the massed male voice choirs when the stage collapsed.
They broadcast six or seven times and on certain occasions the programmes were recorded at Whitecroft and Coleford. On other occasions they traveled to Bristol. In the early war years when the B.B.C. used Bristol for their national broadcasting studios, a bomb hit the studio and damage was done. Plans had to be remade and Whitecroft Male Voice Choir were asked to broadcast, at three days notice, from an improvised studio in a stable.
On several occasions Mr F W Harvey, the poet traveled to the studios and broadcast with the choir.
They had bookings to sing at Cheltenham Palm Court, to travel to Weston-Super-Mare and give concerts on the pier. They also sang in the Colston Hall, Bristol. They gave many concerts locally for many worthy causes, helping with various Hospital Sunday efforts held annually in the open air after Sunday evening service.
They themselves developed an August Sunday sacred concert in the Devil's Chapel, Bream, which was well supported in the impressive surroundings.
When the pageant of Tintern Abbey was produced by Mrs Dobson wife of the then vicar of Coleford, about 1933, they acted the part of the monks of the Abbey, chanting psalms in Latin.
They visited hospitals in the area and gave concerts to the patients.
When Miss Machen of English Bicknor, was married in 1939 they were the choir for the occasion singing music specially composed for the wedding.
Through their music making they entertained known people at their dinners, including Rutland Broughton, the composer of "The Immortal Hour", Mr M Phillips Price, then M.P. for the Forest, Peter Horder (now Lord Horder), Reginald Redman (head of B.B.C. music in the West), Bernard Fishwick and Mr Hollins of the Arts Council, Mary McDougal and Anne Wood. Henry Cummings and Lawrence Holmes sang at concerts with them.
It was at one of their fetes to raise money for funds in about 1934 that Mr and Mrs E J Ruck were elected to be Lord Mayor and Mayoress of Whitecroft, an election which proved a blessing to charities over the years in Whitecroft because Mr and Mrs Ruck carried on the good work as unofficial Mayor and Mayoress by leading many local efforts.
The choir itself could give a complete concert providing solos, duets and quartets as well as choral works.
The war and the demands on the member's time reduced the members and made the attendances and practices a problem; members were engaged on A.R.P., Home Guard and Civil Defence activities. Before the war ended practices ceased.
There were efforts to re-start the choir when things returned more to normal. Small choirs were tried by Mr A. R. Phipps and following his death by Mrs Grace Knowles and Mr A T James. Unfortunately these efforts did not meet with success and the glories of the past were never regained.
Throughout the years the president was Mr Clifton Aldridge; there were three chairmen - Mr Jim B A Clements, Mr Harold S Craddock and after his death Mr S H Yeatman.
Soloists who gave yeoman service at concerts included F L Wintle, Jacob and Arnold Hook' Wilf Miles, Graham and Rowe Vedmore. EJP
G Cooksley added (May 2011) "... Row 3 - W.Hook should read J.Hook. He is the father of J.Hook in the back row. I am the daughter and granddaughte"r.
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