Historical notes on

(with further notes on some local musical festivals)


This page is still under construction and much of the necessary research remains as work in progress.
Please send any corrections or additional information to the


Including Aeolian Ladies' Choir;  Barrow Bach Choir; Barrow Catholic Choral Society; Barrow Choral Society; Barrow Choral Union; Barrow Community Choir; Barrow Co-operative Choir; Barrow Glee & Madrigal Union; Barrow Ladies Choir; Barrow LMS  Male Voice Choir; Barrow Madrigal Society; Barrow Male Voice Choir; Barrow Working Men's Club and Institute Male Voice Choir; Barrow NALGO Male Voice Choir; Beethoven (Barrow) Male Voice Choir; Broughton-in-Furness Choral Society; Cartmel Choral Society; Cartmel Male Voice Choir; Centenary Choir; Churches on Walney Choir; Crystal Spring Choir; Cumbria Mass Male Voice Choir; Dalton Bass Clef Choir; Dalton Choral Society; Dalton Ladies Choir; Dalton Temperance Guild Choir; Egton Choral Society; Fairfield Ladies Choir; Furness Bach Choir; Furness Chorale; Furness Ladies Choral Society; Ghyll Singers; Grange Choral Society; Gun Draughtsmen's Choir; Haverigg & Millom Madrigal Society; Haverigg Male Voice Choir; Hindpool Road Wesleyan Choir; Independent Labour Party Choir; Kinsley Choir; Kirkby & Broughton Choral Group; Lily Choir; Lonsdale Ladies Choir; Millom Choral Society; Millom Male Voice Choir; Millom Mixed Choir; Millom Queen Street Methodist Male Voice Choir; Mrs Brown's Choir; Orpheans Choir (Barrow); Orpheus Choir (Walney); Railway Club Male Voice Choir; Rampside Women's Institute Choir; Salthouse & Roose Musical Union; St James's Ladies Choir; Ulverston Choral Society; Ulverston (Mr Constantine's pupils); Ulverston Ladies ChoirUlverston Male Voice Choir; Ulverston Mixed Choir; Ulverston Musical Society (1820s); Vickers Male Voice Choirs; Vickerstown Male Voice Choir; Vickerstown Institute Male Voice Choir; Vickerstown Juvenile Choral Society; Walney Choral Society; Walney Male Voice Choir.


Historical notes on Furness area brass bands [Homepage]
Barrow Male Voice Choir [Homepage ]


Most of the local churches seem to have had choirs at different stages in their existence.  A complete list of choirs would be difficult to achieve, since some choirs probably only operated for short periods and such a list might also run into problems of definition.  However this is an attempt to list the more prominent local secular choirs - i.e. mainly operating outside any church control.  The disappearance of any archives from many of the now-defunct choirs probably often means that little can now be discovered except from isolated press reports, or possibly from the records of other organisations with which they were affiliated.


From the list it would seem that the Ulverston Choral Society (1843) and the original Barrow Choral Society (c1857) were the two earliest such choirs to become relatively settled and to be distinctly recorded within the Furness area.  However this excludes organisations with more extensive interests, such as the Ulverston Musical Society (active by the 1820s), and it also excludes the activities of travelling music teachers (such as Mr Constantine in the 1840s). 



Aeolian Ladies' Choir:

  • The newly formed Aeolian Ladies' Choir, together with the junior choir, under the conductorship of Mrs Marie Dixon, LRAM, journeyed to Workington to compete at the musical festival ... There were six entries in the ladies' choir class, and the Aeolian Choir were successful in securing third prize and certificate of merit. Dr Markham Lee, the adjudicator, spoke very highly of the rendering of both pieces, making special reference to the blend and excellent details.  Unfortunately the junior choir were called upon to sing immediately on arrival, after a rush from the station, and were not able to do themselves justice ... they were placed fourth.  As these choirs have only been existence for nine months they have every reason to feel encouraged by their progress thus far.  Barrow News, 11 Nov. 1933

Barrow Bach Choir:

Seemingly established during the year 1923/24, its founders including several prominent members of the existing Barrow Choral Society who were seeking greater opportunities to participate in church music and competitive choral singing. Remained active until at least the late 1940s.

  • Barrow Choral and Orchestral Society's annual meeting was held in the Trinity Presbyterian Hall on Tuesday [29 Apr 1924] ... A discussion took place on the position of the Society in relation to the Bach Choir. Mr Smith said there was no doubt in his mind that the formation of the Bach Choir was a misfortune. The Bach Choir was generally built up from members of the Society, and a large number of those members had now severed their connection in the Society, as they could not afford to keep in the two choirs. The unkindest cut of all was that the Bach Choir had put itself in opposition to the Society. He had come to the conclusion that there was not room for two choral societies in the town, especially when members of the one belonged to the other ... Mr Dawson said he thought they were facing a bogey. The Bach Choir was not formed in any spirit of opposition the Society, but for the furtherance of church music. Now it had started competitive work. ... Mr Broome said that the Bach Choir was formed to sing in the choir, but the Choir desired to go in for competitive work as a side-line – and it was still a side-line. The Bach Choir is a separate organisation and its business should not be discussed here. But in the long run he did not think that the Bach Choir had injured the Society. Although some members did leave the Society, not being able to pay two subscriptions, there were members who joined the Bach Society in the first instance, but were now in the Society only (Barrow News, 3 May 1924).

  • The Bach Choir competed in the Cumberland Music Festival, Millom, Nov 1924 (The Times, 1 Dec 1924) under Mr W Broome.

  • Choir was "currently rehearsing" for Blackpool Music Festival where they will "also take part in the sight-singing contest, which they won six years ago and in which they were third last year". (Barrow News, 27 Sep 1930)

  • When the Barrow Bach Choir, conducted by Mr W Broome, with Miss G Phillips as accompanist, gave its invitation concert in the King's Hall, Barrow, on Saturday evening, it was twice called upon by the audience to repeat items it had rendered. No ordinary encore was sufficient after its magnificent rendering of Bach's 'Sanctus' (B Minor Mass), with which it won the third prize at Blackpool Festival last October and it had to sing again this great chorus; and when the male members of the choir had delighted everybody with their rousing singing in Candish's 'Buccaneers', they were also called upon for an encore … [programme later included] three part songs by the full choir, one of them Elgar's 'Serenade' with which it gained first prize at the Millom Festival in December. Barrow News, 1 Feb 1930.





BARROW NEWS, 1 Feb 1930

  • Conductor William Broome (1880-1957) of Storey Square, Barrow, was organist at St George's Church from 1911 until his death. Previously he had become a chapel organist in Wolverhampton at the age of twelve and he had also served for a term as assistant organist at Ripon Cathedral (Barrow News, 11 Oct 1957).

  • Joint performance of 'Hymn of Praise' by Mendelssohn, performed by Barrow Bach Choir and Cartmel Choral Society, September 1932 (owing to postponement of Kendal Music Festival): Barrow News, 1 Oct 1932.

  • "Disappointing attendance" at Bach Choir Concert in King's Hall, Barrow, last Saturday evening, when chorus included 'Blest Are They That Mourn' and 'All Flesh Doth Perish'.  Piano recital by Ernest Cross; bass/baritone solo George Draper; soprano Molly Gibbons; conductor W Broome, FRCO. (Barrow News, 14 Oct 1933).

  • At Blackpool Music Festival conducted by Mr F Broome: Barrow News 27 Sep 1936.

  • The following week's issue mentioned a joint concert in the King's Hall alongside the Barrow Madrigal Society, in connection with the ?Blackpool Music Festival.  

  • Together with Barrow Madrigal Society and Barrow & District Male Voice Choir, the Bach Choir were invited by the local Markets & Parks Committee to participate in a programme of concerts in Barrow Park, Barrow News, 27 Feb 1937. 

  • The members of the Barrow Bach Choir and Orchestra, under their conductor Mr W Broome, FRCO, visited the Grammar School for Boys, Barrow, on Saturday and gave a concert version of 'Carmen'. These concerts have become almost an annual feature (NW Evening Mail, 8 Mar 1947).

  • Still active at least to the late 1940s [recollections from former members' families]

Barrow Catholic Choral Society: News item mentions that local baritone Mr Patrick McIvor, "at present Chairman of the Barrow Catholic Choral Society" has received an offer from the Carl Rosa Opera Company. Barrow News, 5 Jul 1919.


Barrow Choral Society:


(Not to be confused with the Barrow Choral Society, Barrow-on-Humber, North Lincolnshire, which is mentioned in various provincial newspapers dating back at least to the 1840s)


Organisations bearing the name Barrow Choral Society appear to have been founded or re-established on at least four separate occasions (c1856, 1864, 1873 and 1919). In 1944 there was a further proposal for a Barrow Choral Union, intended to fill the gap which had been left "when the Choral Society ceased to function".


(1)  A Barrow Choral Society was in existence by 1857, when they gave "their concluding concert of the season" in the [St George's] school hall, including several soloists Soulby's Ulverston Advertiser, 23 April 1857.  The report provoked a critical response in the subsequent issue, which led to further correspondence in the next two weekly issues. Advert for performance in the Free Trade Hall, Barrow, 19 March 1860 "in aid of the Rifle Corps Equipment Fund" indicates conductor Mr Gallop [the organist at St George's Church], Soulby's Ulverston Advertiser, 8 March 1860.  Seemingly no continuous existence over the subsequent decade.  (Choral societies were also being formed in many other northern towns round about the mid 19th century, e.g. Blackburn, Ulverston)

(2) 1864 society: A notice appeared in the Barrow Herald re Barrow Choral Society: "All persons desirous of joining the society are requested to attend at the National Schools, on Monday evening next at 7.30pm, when the rules will be proposed, and the constitution of the society arranged.  Tufnell S Barrett, MA [Rector of St George's], September 30th."  Barrow Herald, 1 October 1864.

(3) The 1870s society: Furness Year Book 1913 shows 1873 as the foundation date of the currently-operating Barrow Choral Society, which again appears to confirm that its existence had not been continuous.  Handel's Messiah in Town Hall (conducted by Edwin Brown) reported in Barrow Herald, 24 Jan 1874. Gave further performances of Messiah in the Town Hall, Feb/March 1878 conducted by , although the Barrow Herald expressed regret that the town could provide only four local instrumentalists (the remainder coming from outside); this was also reported in Lancaster Gazette, 6 March 1878.

  • The President's Soiree: On Thursday the President of the Barrow and Ulverston Choral Society gave an invitation soiree to members of their society and their friends at the close of the season 1883-4.  As this was to be in place of the usual choral concert, the members of the society, through their conductor Dr Brown, Mus. Bac., Oxon – placed their services at the disposal of Sir James, for the purpose of contributing to the enjoyment of the evening and to render approval of his genial hospitality.  To add further variety, the president invited Miss Wakefield – who is perhaps the most enthusiastically popular vocalist that could visit Barrow … the guests continued to arrive at the Town Hall, most of the members of the Choral Society and many of the invited friends being received by Sir James and Lady Ramsden … their number included: - The Mayor, Mayoress, and family, Lord and Lady E Cavendish, [etc.] … at 8.30 the members of the Society opened the concert with a Madrigal, which was very well executed … A trio "Light and laughing summer sky" by Miss Bigg, Miss Fillingham and Miss Guilfoyle was very tastefully sung … Mr A Pass, in selecting Handel's "How Vain Is the Man" for his debut … proved his confidence in his powers to be rightly placed.  He has a good tenor voice … Most of the guests stayed to the close of the  dances, which were bought to a conclusion soon after one o'clock, by the company joining in 'Sir Roger', with Sir James Ramsden and the Mayor leading off with partners at each end of the line.  Barrow Herald, 19 Apr 1884.

  • On Wednesday evening a grand concert consisting of Mendelssohn's 'Hymn of Praise' and the first and second parts of Haydn's sublime oratorio 'The Creation' was given in the Drill Hall by the members of the choral societies of Barrow, Dalton and Ulverston, together with a full orchestral band, the total number of performers being about 300.  The solo pieces were sung by Mrs. Lenthal Swift (soprano), Mr Seymour Jackson (tenor) and Mr Fred Gordon (bass); Dr Brown of course occupying the post of conductor.  The band consisted mainly of members of the Barrow Orchestra Union and other local amateurs, most of the principals however being members of Mr Charles Hall's band, specially engaged for the occasion. Barrow Herald, 14 Feb 1885.

  • Barrow Choral Society concert: On Thursday evening the Town Hall was filled in every part with an attentive and appreciative audience on the occasion of the visit to Barrow of Mdlle. Olga de Mohl, the Russian vocalist, and Mr Frederick Dawson, the noted pianist.  The audience was an essentially musical one, and most of he gentry of the town and immediate neighbourhood were present, including the president of the society, Sir James Ramsden, Lady Ramsden, the mayor, &c. The opening number was 'The Spinning Chorus' from the Flying Dutchman (Wagner) … We do not desire to say that  Mdlle. Olga de Mohl was unsuccessful in pleasing her large audience, but think she would have been even more pleasing had the songs been thoroughly understood … Classical music has been sadly denounced in general by the vox populi, but as a rule the inappreciation of the more difficult and florid works is due to the weak interpretation of the performer … The audience were charmed with the four pieces, however and the general idea was, we think, summed up in the remark we heard from the lips of one of the back-seat audience as we left the hall, "Well, I didn't think we had singing chaps like them in Barrow". Barrow Herald, 7 Apr 1894.




  •  The Choral Society's conductor Dr Edward Brown (c1852-1941) was organist at St James's Church, Barrow from 1871-1930. He was originally from Marlow, Buckinghamshire and he gained his D. Mus. degree from Oxford University in 1883. An appreciation of his work by Mr J Whitehouse MBE, JP, appeared in the Barrow News, 8 Mar 1941. In 1947 the restored organ at St James's was dedicated to his memory. His son E Godfrey Brown (shown above as leader of the band) was subsequently conductor of the Belfast Philharmonic Society. 


from a St James's Church

History (Built by Men of Steel)

by V Bradley

  • Dr Brown subsequently wrote a few reminiscences for the St James's Church magazine and these were extensively quoted by the Barrow News.  "I still remember arriving at Carnforth Station in the late November of 1871 ... I was welcomed by [and lodged in Barrow with] Mr & Mrs Deighton of Anson Street ... Of course I saw a great deal of the Vicar of St James's [Rev. R P Manclarke] ... He was a weird figure to look at, played two pretty pieces on the piano and had a great reputation as a musician.  His taste was all towards sugary music and he hated my fugues and other 'fine things' ... His temper was bad too ... but in the course of time ... we became the best of friends ... One night returning late from a visit to a sick bed he had trouble with a latch key when a policeman came up behind and said 'You are drunk, come with me to the police station' ... this he did and it was at once seen that the boot was on the other foot ... the constable was given a very long holiday ... I was dying to try my hand a conductor , so in the autumn of 1872 I got a few people together and the Barrow Choral Society was formed. The 'Messiah' was taken in hand ... but a man who had a music shop ... thought it was time my activities were checked ... and put on a performance of the whole work a week before mine. Barrow News, 7 Feb 1931.

  • Dr Brown 'the doyen of Barrow musicians', continuing his memoirs in the St James's Church magazine, writes: "My last contribution ended with the birth and early youth of the Barrow Choral Society ... Sir James Ramsden was the first president and always a staunch supporter ... Very speedily similar societies were formed at Ulverston, Grange, Dalton and Millom, all of which I conducted and in course of time we combined for grand annual performances at Barrow with an orchestra and chorus of 300.  These were held in the Drill Hall, the only one large enough for the purpose ... We did a succession of great works - 'Messiah' .. 'Elijah', Berlioz's 'Faust', 'Israel in Egypt', 'Judas Maccabaeus' and 'Golden Legend' ... Then came the war and the curtain dropped so far as I was concerned ... I was the first adjudicator at the Westmorland Music Festival". Barrow News, 9 May 1931.

  • Dr Brown had founded the St James's Ladies Choir, a forerunner of the Barrow Madrigal Society, in 1899.



(son of Dr Edward Brown)

organist at Grange and Penrith.

Appointed to conduct Belfast

Philharmonic Society

(from 'Musical Times', Aug 1912)


(4)  Formation of a new organisation, 1919: "On Tuesday evening in the Presbyterian Lecture Hall a meeting was held with a view to the formation of a Choral Society for Barrow ... the first work to be taken is 'Hiawatha's Wedding Feast ... It may be mentioned that the original Barrow Choral Society was formed in 1873, and for many years under the baton of Dr E Brown produced some of the finest works known.  For some years now however the choir has had no activity, Barrow Guardian, 11 Jan 1919. "On Tuesday night the Barrow Choral Society visited Ulverston with a chorus and orchestra of  180 performers and gave a performance in the Coronation Hall, the proceeds from which are to be divided between the Ulverston branch of the Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Association and their own funds": Barrow Guardian, 5 Apr 1919. The initial year was not financially successful (report of Annual Meeting, Barrow News, 1 May 1920) but the revived choir survived at least into the later 1930s (AGM reported in Barrow News, 5 September 1931).  However by 1944 a the Barrow Choral Union was being proposed to fill the gap in the town's musical life "when the Barrow Choral Society ceased to function" North West Daily Mail, 6 Jan 1944.

  • The [Barrow Choral and Orchestral Society] will commence their third season on Tuesday next, when rehearsals will be resumed at the Presbyterian Hall, School Street.  For the ensuing year the Mayor of Barrow is President, and the vice-presidents are Messrs. F J Ramsden, J Barr, A F Mason and L Speakman. The committee are looking forward confidently to a successful season, and old and new members will be welcomed at the first rehearsal on Tuesday evening. Barrow News, 11 Sep 1920.

  • Barrow Choral and Orchestral Society's annual meeting [1922] was held in the Trinity Presbyterian Hall on Tuesday, Mr W Smith presiding over a good attendance ... the year's working had been very satisfactory... During the year the Society gavetwo concerts and three church performances. The membership now stands at 168, a considerable increase from last year.  Barrow News, 29 Apr 1922.  

  • Barrow Choral and Orchestral Society's annual meeting [1924] was held in the Trinity Presbyterian Hall on Tuesday, the Mayor (Ald. Walker Fairbairn, JP) presiding over a fair attendance of members ... In presenting the sixth annual report, Mr Webb said that he did so with very varied feelings. If they looked at the balance sheet they would say it had been a bad season, but even bad as the financial finish appeared. they had a great deal to be thankful for … although they had wiped out the bank balance. He thought they had had the value in education, experience, and pleasure. Besides the big concert in March, they had given one performance in that hall, one in St George's Church, and one in the Emmanuel Congregational Church, which were free of charge. But for real stimulus the choir must have big concert work. People were still taking of their concert in the Old Town Hall … it was a matter for sincere regret that the concert was not better supported … They had again lost a large number of members through emigration … The balance sheet showed a loss on the year's working of £15 10s, the year being opened with a balance of £14 6s 1d, and ending with a deficit of 13s 11d … The election of officers resulted as follows: - Chairman Mr W H Smith, secretary Mr S Goodall … conductor Mr W Broome, FRCO, pianist Miss E F Lawton, LRAM … A discussion took place on the position of the Society in relation to the Bach Choir (qv) ...  Mr Smith said that Mr Webb had tendered his resignation as secretary, for business reasons, and the committee had accepted it with very great regret … The Mayor then presented Mr Webb, on behalf of the society, with a case of cutlery. Mr Webb, returning thanks, said that during his five years as secretary he had tried to do his best. Barrow News, 3 May 1924.


  • Pessimism at the Annual Meeting – Decreased Membership. "Most people can sing well enough to join a choral society." This interesting statement by Mr W Broome, FRCO – one of the principal figures in the local musical world – was the one and only cheerful gleaning from the depressing two-hour discussion at the annual meeting of the Barrow Choral and Orchestral Society on Tuesday night … Mr Tootall submitted the balance-sheet which showed a profit on the season's working of £1 15s 3d, and in his secretarial report somewhat chilled the satisfaction it gave by saying the society, while it came through the season creditably, had not done all that had been hoped, and that the membership was not all that had been expected. The Chairman, in moving both reports, was candidly pessimistic. They had passed through the worst season they had experienced since the society was re-formed some six or seven years ago, and personally he could not see how the society would be in a flourishing condition next year. Two years ago the society boasted a membership of 160 – today they had only 60 voices, with an average attendance of 40. He knew, of course, they had suffered by members emigrating, and the bad times were also partly responsible. "We cannot call ourselves a choral society" he added, "we are very little stronger than an ordinary church choir" … Mr Broome pointed out that if they looked around they would find that the position was no novel one. The same apathy was felt acutely elsewhere, also. It was well-known that a picture-house could take in a night as much as they could realise at one of the concerts. And they were not giving an entertainment every night; they only gave their concerts, after careful preparation, once a term. If the members wanted very badly to make the society go, they could and should do it. The trouble was they did not want enough, or badly enough. … Mr Smith intimated he wanted to resign from the chairmanship and his resignation was accepted with real regret. Mr Tootall also tended his resignation … Mr Webb was unanimously elected to the chairmanship of the committee, and Mr Leslie Holiday was appointed hon. secretary and treasurer … [It was decided] to revert to the old nomenclature "The Barrow Choral Society" (Barrow News, 2 May 1925).

  • AGM; increasing membership; loss of Miss Evans to America (Barrow News, 1 May 1926)

Barrow Choral & Orchestral Society: The title used by the revived Barrow Choral Society between c1919-25, before reverting to their original name.


Barrow Choral Union: a mixed choir established on a permanent basis January 1944 "as a result of a suggestion made by the Mayor (Coun. G T Hastwell)" and following an initial production of 'The Messiah'. Intended to replace the moribund Barrow Choral Society. Barrow News, 6 and 8 Jan 1944. Performed 'The Messiah' again in the King's Hall, Dec 1946 (Barrow News, 21 Dec 1946).



Barrow Community Choir: a name sometimes adopted for occasional concert purposes by an informal mixed class, which has been running for several years in Forum 28, Barrow, c2010s (the group learns songs using natural voice techniques and meets under the title 'Sing Your Heart Out').


Barrow Co-operative Choir (Barrow Co-operative Society Male Voice Choir/Barrow Co-operative Choir Women's Section) 

  • New Choral Association: "Under the auspices of the Co-operative Education Committee there has been inaugurated a choral association, the management of which is in the hands of a strong committee. Rehearsals have already commenced, and gratifying progress has been made under the leadership of Mr H Pearce, who has been appointed as conductor. The choir is one of mixed voices and singers are required to be connected either by personal or family membership with the Co-operative Society." Barrow News, 18 Sep 1920.

  • Annual meeting of male voice choir reported in Barrow News, April 1936; choirmaster Mr F Smith, Chairman Mr C Turley. "The balance sheet proved satisfactory."

  • The Co-operative Choir was active in still 1954, when the Women's Section performed at the Barrow Central Methodist Women's Meeting (North West Evening Mail, 10 Feb 1954)

Barrow & District Male Voice Choir: see Barrow Male Voice Choir


Barrow Glee and Madrigal Union: The first meeting for rehearsal took place on Friday evening, in the large room over Mr Irving's shop, at the corner of Cavendish-street and Duke-street, and was well attended. About 30 ladies and gentleman have enrolled their names as members. Mr Thornborough has taken a step in the right direction in establishing this society, for the reason that there are many persons in the town who have long been desirous of joining a society where glees and madrigals alone are the principal features for practice, inasmuch as they are so suitable for home pleasures … We are glad to learn that the entertainment at the Town Hall on Thursday night was a  complete success and that the proceeds – with the addition of a handsome donation from Sir James Ramsden – will enable the committee to provide five hundred of the aged and inform poor with a substantial dinner on New Year's Day.  The secretary (Councillor Postlethwaite) or the treasurer (Captain Stokes) will be glad if any who are interested in the welfare of the aged poor will send in [names]. Barrow Herald 22 Dec 1883.

  • On Wednesday evening a very select, though not numerous, audience assembled in the Central Hall to witness the first public performance of the Barrow Glee and Madrigal Society, a society of recent formation, under the direction of Mr S Thornborough … [further details of performance given] The programme was on the whole well selected, although it contained a few numbers which could certainly could not boast of novelty … In additionto the members of the society, Monsieur Lexhime, the now celebrated Barrow violinist, and Mr Fred Haslam, harpist, contributed several pleasing numbers … The glee and part songs were admirably rendered … Miss Thornborough sand very well, especially Parker's beautiful song 'Close to the Threshold', in which she was supported by Mons. Lexhime's playing of the pretty and effective obligato … As was expected, Mons. Lexhime's solos were among the special attractions of the programme … Mr Lexhime played the second movement of one of his own compositions, 'A Scherzando' in three flats, very brilliant in construction and remarkably well performed. Barrow Herald, 6 Dec 1884. [Note: James Francis Lexhime of 20 Hartington Street, Barrow, was a well-known local violinist and composer, originally from Belgium. For an obituary notice see Barrow News, 7 Dec 1912.]

Barrow Ladies Choir:

(1) An original choir which took second place at Morecambe Musical Festival, May 1899, with the test piece 'Some Strains that Once' (Wilson), Manchester Times, 5 May 1899.  Uncertain how long it was active.

(2) Separate choir originally founded 1960 as Barrow Townswomen's Guild Choir. Currently operating from old Hawcoat Community Centre.

  • A musical festival was held in the Priory Hall, Lancaster, on Saturday, for the Townswomen's Guild choirs. Ten choirs competed … Barrow Afternoon and Evening Guilds were third and fourth. NW Evening Mail, 10 Oct 1966.

Barrow LMS Male Voice Choir (London Midland and Scottish Railway Male Voice Choir): founded 1926 and still active in the early 1930s. [See also Railway Club Male Voice Choir, late 1940s]

  • 'At Birmingham on Saturday at the final of the LMS Temperance Union Musical Festival, the Barrow LMS Male Voice Choir was awarded first prize – a handsome silver cup, carrying with it the championship of the whole LMS line, including Scotland, and a valuable money prize. The adjudicators, Dr Green, Rock Ferry, and Mr G Thorn, Watford, in their awards, made the following observations regarding the Barrow choir: 'Obviously an excellently trained choir; compact position; good control; beautiful pianissimos; fine tone which never generated; fine interpretation of both pieces … reflects great credit on the conductor, Mr W Wharton who is also organist at Storey Square UM Church' … Three other first prizes were won by Barrow competitors … Tenor & Baritone duet Messrs B M Bainbridge & J E Dunstan; Mezzo-soprano solo Miss Doris Wright; Mixed voice quartette Mrs J E Dunstan, Mrs H Jackson; Messrs Bainbridge and Dunstan. [Barrow News, 23 March 1929]

  • The LMS Male Voice Choir gave a concert "on Thursday last week" in the Abbey Road Baptist Church schoolroom [Barrow News, 27 April 1929]

  • Barrow Choir's Success: Railwaymen's Progress in National Contest: Engine-drivers, firemen, ticket collectors and members of the "shops" and clerical staffs are represented in the Barrow LMS male voice choir, which will sing on March 21st in the final of the LMS national musical competition ... In five years the Barrow choir has attained a fame in railway musical circles which choirs from many large centres envy, and since its formation in 1926 it has never failed to reach the final ... The final has been entered this year by its success at the Northern Area contest at Manchester, in which it defeated Halifax and district, choir, holders of the national trophy. The results were: - Barrow 182 marks, Halifax 180, Bradford 179, Manchester District 171 ... "Barrow and Halifax will now compete in the final at Birmingham", Mr J E Fryers, hon. secretary of the Barrow choir, told our reporter. "We won the national trophy in 1929 and hope to repeat that success this year, particularly as we have defeated Halifax, who won the choir last year. Choirs compete from all over the country, and we have been in the final every year since 1926 ... Members are recruited from all grades of railwaymen in Barrow – clerical staffs, engine-drivers and firemen, shop staffs, and others. The conductor, Mr W Wharton, is in the chief mechanical engineer's department  ...Individual members of the choir also do well, as the following results of the Northern Area festival last week-end show: Mixed voice quartette: 1st, Furness Quartette (Messrs. B M Bainbridge, J E Dunstan, Mrs Dunstan and Miss Dunstan). Tenor and baritone duet: 3rd Messrs B M Bainbridge and J E Dunstan, Barrow. Baritone solo: 3rd, Mr J E Dunstan. Mezzo-soprano solo: Mrs J P Bainbridge, Barrow. Vocal solo: 3rd, Mrs Bainbridge. The children's solo (girls under 16) was won by Miss M Cross of Millom. Barrow News, 7 Mar 1931.

  • Barrow LMS Choir: Result of National Music Competition: The Barrow LMS Male Voice Choir, which had high hopes of winning the LMS national musical competition at Birmingham on Saturday, did not maintain the form displayed at the recent Northern area competition, and was placed only fourth. The positions were: 1, Halifax; 2, Crewe Co-operative; 3, Glasgow St Rollox; 4, Barrow … Individual members of the choir achieved success, however, the mixed voice quartette class (open to the whole country), being won by the Furness Quartette … The children's open solo was won by Miss M Cross of Millom. Barrow News, 28 Jan 1931.

Barrow Madrigal Society: active 1900-1991 (see also Barrow Glee & Madrigal Union, 1883)



Inaugurated in 1900; "from its inception a competition choir, competing with distinct success in London, Birmingham, Blackpool, Morecambe, Lytham, and local musical festivals  ... Mrs T M Bourne has conducted for over a quarter of a century ... rehearses in Clive Street School (Furness Year Book, 1929). Mixed voices.

First prize at Barrow Music Festival 1901 under conductor Miss Lones: Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 15 November 1901

Second place at Blackpool Festival under Mrs T M Bourne (who also won 1st place for female voices with Barrow St James's Choir): Barrow Herald, 20 Oct 1908.


BARROW HERALD 24 June 1911

At the Aeolian Hall, New Bond Street [London] on Thursday, the Barrow Madrigal Society, conducted by Mrs T M Bourne, will appear at the tenth Broadwood Concert. On the success of Mrs Bourne and her zealous followers at northern competitive festivals it is needless to enlarge. The Barrow Choir, by common acknowledgment, has a fixed standard and has indeed become one of the most influential formative choral forces of the North.  Since the choir came into being in 1900 it has won more than seventy prizes, mainly in mixed choir and female voice choir classes, while the male voice section has also had its full share of successes. Thursday's programme including as it does representative examples of the Old English madrigal school and of modern Parisian composers will be a sufficiently exacting text of the choir's technical and interpretive powers.  Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 5 March 1912

Programme of Madrigal Choir,

Aeolian Hall, 7 Mar 1912

The Barrow Madrigal Society – Visit to London. Metropolitan concert-goers have become familiar with the power of large choirs from the provinces, but they have very little knowledge of the capacity of the small choirs whose speciality is unaccompanied part-music. The perfection achieved in the art of fine part-singing is best experienced at some of the Northern competitive centres … One of the best of the Northern choirs is the Barrow Madrigal Society, conducted by Mr [sic] T M Bourne, Since its formation in 1900 it has won over seventy prizes at competitions. Barrow is a great shipbuilding town on the Lancashire coast. One cannot ascribe the good quality of the voices of its choralists to the softness of its climate. It is easier to assume that the results attained are to the enthusiasm and innate musical capacity of the singers and the moulding power of Mr Bourne, who shapes their singing so artistically. The promoters of the Broadwood Concerts have earned the hearty thanks of all who were able to be present at the concert organized at Aeolian Hall on March 7. It was a bold and expensive undertaking to bring a choir 300 miles for the benefit of the subscribers to these select concerts, but it was fully worth while. The only cause for regret was that the choir could not be represented at more than half of its normal strength … We cannot give a detailed criticism of the performance of the Choir. It must suffice to record that the execution of the whole programme was extraordinarily good. … The Choir travelled from Barrow on the day of the concert, and many returned the same night. Musical Times, 1 April 1912.

"At Barrow-in-Furness most of the men (and some ladies) are engaged in munitions work, and Mrs Bourne has experienced greater difficulties than usual in keeping her famous choir together, yet despite all, her singers have participated in many relief fund concerts aggregating between £150 and £200. Besides these efforts they have frequently visited the men training in their locality". Musical Times, 1 Sep 1915.

Mentioned in The Times, 15 May 1913, competing at Morecambe Music Festival under "the brilliant conductor Mrs T M Bourne"; also in issue dated 1 Dec 1924, competing in 4th Annual Cumberland Music Festival at Millom. 

By 1922 appearing with Ulverston Choral Society under the title Royal Command Barrow Madrigal Choir.

Barrow Madrigal Society (conductor Mrs T M Bourne), holders of the silver challenge shield, again gained first position at the Morecambe Festival on Saturday. In addition to the shield, Barrow receive £25, the Novello prize of £5 worth of music, medal for the conductor and certificate of merit. There were 13 entries and the test piece was 'O death, thou art the tranquil night' (Cornelius), translated from the German by the Rev Canon Gorton 29 years ago … Barrow had to face some of the finest choirs in the north of England. It was worth noting that Mrs T M Bourne was the only lady conductor. It was a magnificent rendering and received by nearly 4.000 persons with a remarkable outburst of applause … The judge, Mr Julius Harrison, out of the possible 300 marks, awarded Barrow 275, Blackpool Orpheus 268, and Sowerby Bridge 265. In giving his award he said that the one thing that was required was varying expressions of colour. Barrow's grading was by far the best. They were able to display the beautiful colours in this lovely part … In class 45 (male voice choirs, Barrow Madrigal Society … secured the second prize of £6. The test pieces were (a) part song 'The Blossoms' (P Edmonds), and (b) part-song 'Contentment' (Boughton). Barrow News, 9 May 1925.

Blackpool Musical Festival closed at the Winter Gardens on Saturday, when the choral classes were judged in the presence of a large and keenly interested audience … In the Ladies' Choirs A., Barrow Madrigal Choir secured second place with 284, first place being taken by Woodward's Ladies' Choir, Plymouth, with 291. Barrow News, 29 Oct 1927.

"A choir of men led by a woman conductor, Mrs T M Bourne of Barrow, won the championship silver rose bowl at the Millom (Cumberland) Music Festival on Saturday (Hull Daily Mail, 1 December 1930.

Attended Blackpool Music Festival, conducted by Mrs Bourne: Barrow News 27 Sep 1936.


  • The conductor Mary Ann Bourne (Mrs Thomas Mills Bourne, nee Lones, 1874-1950) was by profession a singing teacher in Barrow. A founder member of the Madrigal Society, she finally resigned as conductor in 1947, being succeed by Mr L Sidaway. Under her the choir had won more than a hundred prizes in festivals.  She was also active in the Barrow Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (Barrow News, 14 Oct 1950).  


from 'Musical Times',

1 Dec 1911

  • Presentation to Mrs T M Bourne – We gladly draw attention to the fund now being organised for the presentation of a testimonial to Mrs T M Bourne, conductor of the Barrow Madrigal Society. Mrs Bourne has long been a familiar figure in the musical competition world, having led her choir into the arena regularly since its formation in 1900 – and not in vain, for the choir has just over a hundred successes to its credit. This quarter of a century of intensive study of fine choral music must have exerted a beneficent influence on the musical taste of the Barrow district, and such a tribute to the conductor ought to be warmly supported. Donations should be sent promptly, as the fund is on the point of being closed. The hon. treasurer is Mr J W Brocklehurst, Midland Band, 104 Duke Street, Barrow-in-Furness. Musical Times, 1 June 1927

  • Testimonial to Mrs Bourne: Mrs T M Bourne, who has done so much for the promotion and enhancement of choral singing in Barrow, richly deserves the handsome testimonial presented to her on Thursday week at the King’s Hall, during an altogether delightful concert provided by the members, past and present, of Barrow Madrigal Society … Mrs Bourne’s association with choral singing began when she became a member of the St James’s Ladies Choir upon its formation by Dr Brown in 1899. That choir had not been in existence many months before Dr Brown, recognising the very special talent and ability of one of his lady members, Miss Lones, now known in musical circles as Mrs Bourne, conductor of the Barrow Madrigal Society, requested her to take the leadership of his choir. In so doing Dr Brown showed keen perception, foresight and sound judgment. In the first 12 months Mrs Bourne took the choir to Morecambe Musical Festival and carried off the two first prizes offered for ladies’ choirs. In the winter of 1900 the choir was made a mixed choir under the name of the Barrow Madrigal Society … The number of prizes secured at competitive musical festivals totalled to date [is] 104. Barrow News, 4 June 1927.

  • The presentation by the Mayor of a £200 cheque upon Mrs Bourne's retirement was reported in the Barrow News, 5 July 1947.  "A very talented and respected member of the musical world, not only in Barrow but throughout the country ... principal soloist in St James's Choir ... for a woman to conduct an adult choir was unknown in the days when Mrs Bourne took over, but when she did it proved lucky for Barrow."

  • Sir Hugh Roberton, the conductor of the Glasgow Orpheus Choir, dedicated a version of one of his most famous pieces, All In the April Evening to "Mrs Bourne's Choir" at Barrow.

  • Later conductors (1970s onwards) included Merle Davidson, Margaret Reid and Harold Sharpe.

  • At Saturday night's final session of the Morecambe Musical Festival, … in the male voice choirs (A) Vickers-Armstrongs were placed third with 252 marks, whilst Barrow Madrigal (Mr V Dilks were joint second in the class for female voice choirs (open) with 262 and also second in the class for mixed voice choirs (A) with 261. NW Evening Mail, 2 May 1948.

  • Survived until 1991 when falling numbers led to its closure (despite a brief attempt for the Ladies' Section to continue).

Barrow Male Voice Choir (BMVC):

  • (1): The earliest local choir to bear this title was the former Vickerstown Male Voice Choir, which briefly adopted this name after their annual meeting in 1912, before seemingly disappearing during the First World War. (In Dec 1924 the Barrow News included a further reference to 'Barrow Male Voice Choir', but it is clear from other reports that it was simply meaning the male section of the Barrow Madrigal Society.)

  • (2A):  Between 1936-41 the Barrow Working Men's Club and Institute Choir moved out of the institute following a dispute over membership of the parent organisation. They formally adopted the full title Barrow & District Male Voice Choir, remaining under the conductorship of Mr H H Thomas. Seemingly the local press frequently shortened this to the Barrow Male Voice Choir. In 1945 the choir accepted an invitation to move back to the institute and to resume their former title.



          WEEKEND: BARROW NEWS, 29 Jan 1938


(2B) In 1997 following the closure of the institute, the Barrow Working Men's Club and Institute Choir finally readopted the title Barrow Male Voice Choir.


Barrow Townswomen's Guild Choir see Barrow Ladies Choir.


Barrow Working Men's Club and Institute Male Voice Choir (Barrow Male Voice Choir):



  • Founded in July 1931 with the specific intention of participating in the revived Barrow festivals scheduled for Autumn 1931 (and subsequently in the 1932 festival). On 3rd Oct 1931 they won 1st place, 174 marks (3 marks ahead of the much longer established Millom MVC); Barrow News, Oct 1931 (the actual test pieces are not mentioned and it is clear that some of the Barrow members were already active in other choirs).  Followed up during the next month with additional success at the music festival at Workington.

  • Choir Being Formed: The Barrow Working Men's Club and Institute is forming a male voice choir, and already a number of the best vocalists in the town have indicated their intention of joining it. All of course are members of the club. Mr H H Thomas is to be the conductor and it is intended that the choir will compete at the forthcoming musical festival in Barrow.  Barrow News, 20 June 1931.

  •  New Male Voice Choir: At a meeting of members interested at Barrow Working Men's Club and Institute on Thursday week it was  decided to form a male voice choir.  Quite a large member have joined and others may still do so.  Mr T Dennison was elected president, Mr Syd Robinson, chairman, Mr T Johnson secretary, with the following committee: Messrs F Andrews, T Hobro, E Wharton, H Robinson, J W Hardern and R Williams.  Mr H H Thomas was appointed conductor.  It is intended that the choir shall compete in the musical festival to be held in Barrow in October.  Barrow News, 11 July 1931.



Barrow News, 22 Feb 1930

  •  The inaugural date is further confirmed by a note made in October 1935 within the earliest surviving minute book. The two other principal co-founders were Mr J R Green and Mr Tom Johnson.

  • Barrow Musical Festival: "Lessons Needed in Love Making": Adjudicators Mr Julius Harrison and Mr W R Anderson ... Commenting on the male voice choirs' contest, Mr Harrison paid tribute to the sporting action of local choral societies in allowing their members to make up choirs for that and other competitions. The standard of singing was very high in this section, which always produced excellent competition ... 1st place, Barrow WMC Choir, 174 marks; 2nd place Millom MVC, 171 marks; 3rd place Lancaster MVC ... When Mr Harrison announced the awards in the tenor solo contest, he said: "The tenors do not seem to be very ardent lovers. They could do with somebody to give them lessons - it is outside my duties, but if they could get some lessons in ardent love-making or have it infused into them, the singing would improve (laughter) ... The test piece, Roger Quilter's 'Fair House of Joy', is an ardent love song, but the singers were all looking after the words instead of looking after the love." The winner, Mr H Price of Maryport, put most ardour into the song, Mr Harrison observed (N W Daily Mail, 5 Oct 1931).

  • Workington Musical Festival: November 1931. Male voice choir test pieces were 'Feasting I Watch' (Elgar) and 'Soldier Rest' (Somervill). 1st place: Men's Club and Institute, Barrow (Mr H H Thomas, 92 and 91 marks; 2nd place Flimby MVC (Mr T Wilkinson ) 89 and 92. Adjudicator Dr Caradog Roberts commented: "I consider this final contest is the crown to a most successful festival [which was continued from the previous Tuesday] - a very worthy crown ... I had read and heard of your singing and was anxious to hear your male singing. Welsh people have male choirs and the best we have hear tonight will compare favourably with the best they have in Wales ... The winning male voice choir ... had magnificent voices, so full and round and sonorous. With the first piece they made an excellent start" (West Cumberland Times, Sat 7 Nov 1931).

  • Barrow Festival 8 Oct 1932: The Barrow choir was awarded the 1st place certificate ahead of Vickerstown Institute MVC and Millom MVC (Barrow News, 10 Oct 1932). Adjudicators:  Julius Harrison and Thomas F Dunhill.

  • Workington Musical Festival, November 1932: "Magnificent Male Voice Choirs". Test pieces: 'Song of the Volga Boatman' (arranger G Bantock) and 'Hob A Derry Dando' (C Wood). 1st place: Barrow Working Men's Club & Institute, 90 and 90 marks; 2nd place: Keswick & District MVC, 84 and 86. "In the winning choir [said the adjudicator Dr.  Dunhill] the basses were really splendid. Although tremendously strong, they kept something in reserve and that was a very fine performance" (West Cumberland Times, Sat 5 Nov 1932.

  • CHORAL CONCERT AT BARROW: A choral concert of a high standard of excellence was given by the Barrow Working Men’s Club and Institute Male Voice Choir at the Regal Theatre, on Sunday evening, on behalf of the Orpheans’ 1931-32 effort in aid of the North Lonsdale Hospital, and as there was a full house there should be a good sum to hand over to this deserving cause.
    The singing of the choir, comprising 45 voices, was a sheer delight. There was a charming bland, a rich ness of tone, a precision, and expression, which stamped the choir as one of exceptional merit. Although practically still in its infancy this choir proved successful at the Barrow and Workington musical festivals and intends to compete in other contests. The choir has the advantage of a talented conductor in Mr H H Thomas whose interpretive gifts are reflected in its performances.
    The choir’s numbers included the part songs “Feasting I Watch” (E Elgar); “A Franklyn’s Dogge” (A C Mackenzie); “Hark, the Bosun” (Cyril Jenkins); “Pilgrims’ Chorus” from Wagner’s “Tannhauser”, in which the solo was ably rendered by Mr R R Bowker; “Passing By” (E C Purcell); “Only a Pin” (A H Brewer); “Glow Worm” (H Rhodes); and “Long Day Closes”. This choral singing was enhanced by special limelight effects.
    The soloists were Messrs. L Sidaway (tenor) and R R Bowker (baritone), who enhanced their reputations … The programme opened with the hymn “Jesu, Lover of My Soul” and concluded with an inspiring rendering of “Lead, Kindly Light”, followed by the National Anthem. The accompaniments by Mr H W Morrall, on the piano, and Mr R C Pass, on the organ, left nothing to be desired. Barrow News, 6 Feb 1932

  • Other early items in the Barrow WMC repertoire included 'Hark Among the Shepherds' (Thomas Morley), 'Zut Zut' (Elgar) and  'Down Among the Dead Men (Vaughan Williams) (Morecambe Musical Competition Festival adjudication sheet, 1933)

  • A third successive success at the Workington festival in Nov 1933 entitled the Barrow choir to retain the winner's shield permanently, but they opted to return it to the organisers. Quote from the Workington Festival minute book, 10 Nov 1933: Official letter to the Barrow Working Men's Male Voice Choir: "This matter was discussed. Mr Thomas proposed and Mr Armstrong seconded that a letter of appreciation & thanks from the Committee re the return of the Irving Challenge Shield should be sent. The gift and its acceptance be suitably recorded in the minute book. The Committee were of the opinion that the Choir ought to have some permanent record of winning the Trophy three years,. It was suggested a framed & suitably inscribed photograph of the choir with the shield, or a framed photograph of the shield alongside the letter of appreciation enclosed, both shield & letter to be photographed."

  • Committee minute book, 26 Jan. 1934: "Letter from the Barrow Working Men's Institute Male Voice Choir was read accepting our offer re photo & letter." (Cumbria Archives, Whitehaven, ref. YDSO 10/1/2.)

  • Continued to participate in many other festivals during subsequent years.

  • ANNUAL MEETING AND SMOKING CONCERT: The annual general meeting of the Barrow Working Men’s Club and Institute was held on Thursday week, when the president, Mr T Dennison, presided, supported by Mr J R Green, Chairman, Mr S Robinson, secretary, and members of the committee … A presentation, in the form of a Jacobean oak chiming clock, was made by the president to Mr H H Thomas, the club’s choir conductor … Mr Thomas said that this gift came as a surprise to him and he thanked them for it. The choir was one of the best in the country and he had been connected with it ever since he had come to the town. Barrow News, 17 Feb 1934

  • Performed at firework display in Craven Park; other carnival celebrations to include throwing open the steam locomotive Coppernob within its glass case outside Barrow Central Station: Barrow News, 22 Sep 1934.

  • Went under name Barrow Male Voice Choir (or Barrow & District Male Voice Choir) between 1936-1941, following a dispute with the parent institute. Thereafter inactive until resumption of previous title and return to Working Men's Institute base in 1945.

  • Along with Barrow Bach Choir and Barrow Madrigal Society, the Barrow & District Male Voice Choir were invited by the local Markets & Parks Committee to participate in a programme of concerts in Barrow Park, Barrow News, 27 Feb 1937.

  • Concert in Christ Church Schoolroom in aid of YMCA Hut fund, organised by Barrow Methodist Circuit (Barrow News, 1 Feb 1941).

  • Concert in Public Hall in aid of Barrow Deaf & Dumb Institute, Summer 1946: one of several participants, including principals, which included Olive Dyer, Barrow-born soprano, now with Sadler's Wells (Barrow News, 3 Aug 1946).

  • At Saturday night's final session of the Morecambe Musical Festival, the Grundy Challenge Cup for choirs (Class B, tenor lead) was won  by the Barrow Working Men's Club and Institute Male Voice choir (conductor Mr H H Thomas) … They gained 94 marks out of a possible 100 for their rendering of the test piece 'Waltzing Matilda' in the final session. This test piece, a very popular number, was, singularly enough, arranged by a Barrovian – Dr Thomas Wood. … In the male voice choirs (a) Vickers-Armstrongs were placed third with 252 marks, whilst Barrow Madrigal (Mr V Dilks) were joint second in the class for female voice choirs (open) with 262 and also second in the class for mixed voice choirs (A) with 261. NW Evening Mail, 2 May 1948.

  • At Preston festival: the first performance under Gilbert Uren (deputy conductor), due to  illness of Mr H H Thomas.  Test pieces for under 40 voices: In Silent Night and To Celia (Barrow News, 3 Mar 1951).

  • Principal "annual concerts", mainly to raise choir funds, began in 1952.

  • Funeral of Mrs Sarah Parke, wife of choir member Mr Lawrence Parke: Barrow News 25 Apr 1953.




  • The former conductor Mr Herbert Henry Thomas of Hibbert Road, Barrow, died in June 1954. Originally a schoolteacher from Millom, he later worked in Barrow as the schools music organiser. He had once also been an active member with the Millom and Barrow cricket teams (Barrow News, 19 June 1954), and for some time was also organist at St James's Church, Barrow.

  • Christmas concert and donation to mayor's local blind appeal: Barrow News 25 Jan 1961.

  • Following closure of the Working Men's Institute, the name Barrow Male Voice Choir was re-adopted in 1997.

  • For further historical details and other general information see the Barrow Male Voice Choir's current website.

Barrow-in-Furness NALGO Male Voice Choir: active at least 1930s-40s

  • ?1937 reference [to be checked]

  • Still active in 1940s (folder amongst BMVC records with typed sheets showing voice production exercises, Barrow-in-Furness NALGO Male Voice Choir, c1940s.)

  • Concert at Grammar School alongside members of NALGO Drama Group: Barrow News, 1 Feb 1947.

Barrow Steelworks? The iron and steelworks was another major employer in the town and had a well-known brass band. But no reference to a choir has hitherto been traced.


Barrow Townswomen's Guild Choir: see under Barrow Ladies Choir


Beethoven (Barrow) Male Voice Choir: competed at Barrow Music Festival (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 31 Oct 1904)


Broughton-in-Furness Choral Society: established c1899.

  • Broughton-in-Furness: On Saturday evening a meeting of the Choral Society was held in the Schoolroom. Mr. J. R. Hall presented a statement of accounts for the past session, showing a balance in hand of over £1. This satisfactory position had been brought about by the kindness of the Society's supporters, who, in a response to an appeal issued at the end of last session had cleared off an adverse balance and given them a small balance in hand to commence the season's work ... Some discussion took place with reference to the amount of members' subscriptions' and room for practice. With reference it was agreed to leave the final selection over to the committee ... The hon. Miss. Cross was appointed hon. secretary, on the motion of Mr. T. Bond, seconded by Mr. Wilson Butler. The Society will again have the services of Mrs. Barratt as accompanist, and Mr. Godfrey Brown as conductor. The names of Mrs. Hall and the Rev. Canon Monnington were added to the committee. Whitehaven News, 7 Sep 1905.

  • Grand Vocal and Instrumental Concert - The Broughton-in-Furness Choral Society held their seventh annual concert in the Schoolroom on Friday evening, and was a great success, there being a very large audience, and who were delighted by an excellent programme, which was as follows:- Part I Mendelssohn's 'As the hart pants', which was rendered in grand style by the Society, consisting of a chorus of upwards of 50 voices ... [other items, soloists and musicians listed] ... harmonium Dr E Brown ... the chorus and orchestra all being under the able conductorship of Mr E Godfrey Brown. [Sundry other persons present are listed.]  Barrow Herald, 3 Mar 1906.

Cartmel Choral Society: founded 1908; still active [2014]. Certain minute books, reports, accounts, programmes and centenary booklet from 1908-2000 deposited with Cumbria Archive Service, Kendal.

  • At Pridy Church [Priory Church?] on April 25, the Cartmel Choral Society (assisted by some members of the Carnforth Society) sang Bach's Cantata 'God's time is the best' and other items. Mr Unsworth, of Carnforth, conducted, and Mr George Rathbone accompanied at the organ. Mr Rathbone played the slow movement from the Schumann Quintet, Parry's 'Fantasia and Fugue' and the 'Solemn Melody' of Dr Walford Davies. Miss Sibil Cropper sang the contralto solo in the Cantata. The Carnforth Society gave a Festival Service at Warton Parish Church on May 2. The choral programme given on April 25 was repeated; Mr George Rathbone presided at the organ, and played Dvorak's 'Largo' from the 'New World' symphony, Parry's 'Fantasia and Fugue', and Dr Walford Davies's 'Solemn Melody'. Musical Times 1 June 1915.

  • Cark Choral Concert – On Friday last week a concert was given in the Lower Holker Club by the Cartmel Choral Society under the conductorship of Mrs Heathcote. The first part of the programme consisted of Pattison's setting of 'The Ancient Mariner', which was very creditably sung by the well-balanced choir. Miss Mary Rhodes gave great pleasure in the second part of the programme by her recitations, and Mr George Rathbone's accompaniment was much appreciated. Barrow News, 2 May 1925.

  • At the recent Mary Wakefield (Westmorland) Festival, held at Kendal ... the Cartmel Choral Society ... under Mr Thompson's baton was successful in winning the Keswick Challenge Bowl (and bronze medals for each member of the choir) given by Dr Paget-Tomlinson. In the ladies' choir and mixed voice choir competitions, Cartmel Choral Society secured second and third respectively. The adjudicators were Mr Herbert Howells and Mr George Rathbone, and Mr Alfred Thompson is to be congratulated on such a number of successes at a festival of such importance. Barrow News, 10 May 1930.

  • 1930s, conductor Alfred Thompson (also the founder of Ulverston Male Voice Choir).  Joint performance of 'Hymn of Praise' by Mendelssohn, performed by Barrow Bach Society and Cartmel Choral Society, September 1932 (owing to postponement of Kendal Music Festival): Barrow News, 1 Oct 1932.

Cartmel Male Voice Choir: Conductor's Success: Mr Alfred Thompson, the well-known Ulverston musician, conducted the Cartmel Male Voice Choir at the recent Mary Wakefield (Westmorland) Festival, held at Kendal, and they were the winners of the Desmond Bagot Challenge Trophy given by Lady Bagot. Barrow News, 10 May 1930.


Centenary Choir (1987): 150-strong mixed choir under Peter Moser from the local artistic group Welfare State International. The choir was formed to commemorate the centenary of Barrow Town Hall.  Gave concerts during November & December 1987. (NW Evening Mail, 13 Nov 1987).


Churches Together on Walney Choir: a mixed ecumenical group based at St Columba's RC Church, Walney Island. Currently holds an annual Christmas concert including assorted secular and religious items.  Evolved from a group which first met during Summer 1991 to sing religious musicals, being still active after more than twenty years.


Crystal Spring Choir:

  • The members of this choir gave one of their pleasant concerts in the schoolroom attached to the Methodist New Connexion  Church, on Monday evening.  The attendance was pretty fair, and the audience seemed to appreciate  the efforts of the juvenile performers, and frequently rewarded them by hearty applause.  Barrow Herald, 17 May 1884.

  • The Crystal Spring Choir gave one of their popular entertainments in the Coffee House, Old Barrow, on Saturday evening.  Mr McKinlay presided, and an admirable programme was gone through to the satisfaction of a large audience. Barrow Herald, 3 Feb 1885.

Cumbria Mass Male Voice Choir: programme sheet, March 1992 (amongst BMVC records).  Cassette recording produced for Millennium Celebration Event in Whitehaven Sports Centre, conducted by Norman Williams, 30 September 2000, involving choirs from Whitehaven, Barrow, Carlisle, Dalston, Flimby, K-Shoes (Kendal) and Thornhill.


Dalton Bass Clef Choir: active in 1920s-30s.

  • Opening of the Concert and Dance Season – There is not likely to be any lack of entertainment in Dalton this winter, judging by the number of concerts and dances already arranged. Dalton Town Band and its supporters' club – the Bass Clef – led the way on Wednesday evening with a variety concert, followed by a dance, in the Co-operative Hall … The Band, conducted by Mr Robert Atkinson , and the Bass Clef Male Voice Choir, under the baton of Mr Clark Strickland, shared the honours of the evening … The Refreshment buffet was in charge of the members of the town Band Ladies' Guild. The organisation was in the capable hands of Mr Walter Boulton, secretary of the Bass Clef, and Mr Robert South, secretary of the Town Band. Barrow News, 13 Oct 1923.

  • Competing in the 'B' class at the Morecambe Musical Festival under Mr Clarke Strickland, gained 161 marks out of a maximum of 200, being somewhat handicapped by having only 25 present. Commenting on their performance of the first piece, 'Blossom', Mr Geoffrey Shaw, one of the adjudicators, said that the choir's rendering was beautiful, particularly in the pianissimo parts. The balance was very nice, but they were short of volume, which he made an important point. The choir are not discouraged, however, and will profit by their experience. Barrow News, 9 May 1925.

  • In class 45 (male voice choirs)  [at the Morecambe Festival on Saturday] ... the test pieces were (a) part song 'The Blossoms' (P Edmonds), and (b) part-song 'Contentment' (Boughton). There were nine entries and Dalton-in-Furness Bass Clef, conductor Mr C Strickland, also completed, but were not selected for the final test ... There were some fine basses in the choir, but not enough gradation of tone. It was a promising choir which should improve. Barrow News, 9 May 1925.

Dalton Choral Society (Dalton-in-Furness Choral Society):

  • Looking back to the late 19th century after his retirement, Barrow Choral Society conductor Dr Edward Brown wrote: "Similar societies were formed at Ulverston, Grange, Dalton and Millom, all of which I conducted and in course of time we combined for grand annual performances at Barrow with an orchestra and chorus of 300". Barrow News, 9 May 1931.

  • Not to be behind hand in the efforts which are being put forth on all sides, for the amelioration of the condition of our poorer brethren, at this festive season of the year, the members of the Dalton Choral Society made their public appeal last night, by giving a performance in the Co-operative Hall, the net proceeds of which are to be devoted towards the scheme which has been set on foot for "making glad the hearts and homes of the poor".  The Rev J M Morgan gave an explanation of the object of the concert and apologised for the absence of Mr Wadham who had been announced to preside.  Amongst those present were Mr F J Ramsden, Mr and Mrs Bargate, Mr Massicks and party … The programme consisted of a performance of W M Hutchinson's cantata entitled 'The Story of Elaine' … We shall give an extended report in our issue of Saturday.  Barrow Herald, 18 Dec 1883.

  • On Wednesday evening a grand concert consisting of Mendelssohn's 'Hymn of Praise' and the first and second parts of Haydn's sublime oratorio 'The Creation' was given in the Drill Hall by the members of the choral societies of Barrow, Dalton and Ulverston, together with a full orchestral band, the total number of performers being about 300 ... Dr Brown of course occupying the post of conductor. Barrow Herald, 14 Feb 1885.

  • Dalton Choral Society: A social tea and meeting in connection with the above society was held in the Nelson-street Board Schools on Friday evening last … Mr Blake (who was voted to the chair during the temporary absence of Dr Gray) said their first business was to recognise the services of two gentlemen who had taken prominent parts in the production of 'The Messiah'. That concert, he considered, had placed great credit on Dalton, not only as a success in merit, but as placing the Choral Society on a firm basis in the town, for he now considered it firmly established. … [Presentations subsequently made by Mrs Gray to Rev. J G Anderson, secretary (receiving various theological works, signed by Lord E Cavendish, president, on behalf of the Society), and to Mr Griffith, conductor (receiving an inscribed silver baton)] Barrow Herald, 11 Feb 1890.

  • "Next rehearsal will be on January 12th. J W Carter, conductor." Barrow News, 3 January 1903.

Dalton Ladies Choir: performed at Lindal Methodist Church centenary celebrations, January 1972


Dalton Temperance Guild Choir: Temperance Guild Choir: At a meeting held last Monday evening, it was resolved that a picnic be held on June 17th, the place selected being Lakeside. It is proposed to make this trip an annual one. Each member may invite a friend. The members alone number over 70, so that a good number no doubt will avail themselves of this outing. Barrow Herald, 18 Apr 1891


Egton Choral Society:  On Monday evening last the above held their third annual concert in Pennybridge School and was most successful.  The following were included in the programme: Part I, four-part song 'The Watchword' (Pinsuti) ... [many other items and soloists listed] ... At the interval the conductor (Rev. W J Sexton) spoke of the unfailing courtesy and ready services of Miss Chadwick as hon. secretary, and in the name of the society he offered her a little present, a silver-mounted hair brush, with list of subscribers.  the brush was supplied by Mr C E Court, Ulverston ... Mr E G Mackereth spoke of the pleasure of listening to good part singing, and also in the improvement made in the three years by the society.  He also seconded the hearty vote of thanks and the sincere compliment paid to the conductor, Mr Robert Park (Arrad Foot).  The proceeds are to be devoted to the purchase of a banner for the Sunday school. Above all let us not forget that "the man at the wheel" (every week since last October)  was the conductor, to whom it had been a real labour of love ... The singing of 'God Save the King' brought to a conclusion a concert which was musically far above the standard of most village entertainments. Barrow Herald, 3 May 1906.


Fairfield Ladies Choir: sometimes performed at concerts alongside the Barrow Male Voice Choirs, (Working Men's Club Choir) c1950s-70s. Performed at Lindal Methodist Church centenary celebrations, October 1971.




Furness Chorale: mixed choir, 1970s-2010s, conducted by Joan Swindlehurst.


Furness Bach Choir: originated via an amalgamation of Ulverston Male Voice Choir and Ulverston Ladies Choir (qv.), c1970. Specialises in choral music written for smaller choirs.

  • Initially called Ulverston Bach Choir; renamed c2008.

  • Programme: Ulverston Bach Choir, 1987: Cumbria Archives, Barrow: BDX 79/12/1/111


NW EVENING MAIL, 6 June 1996

  • A conductor is set to hang up his baton tonight after a 20-year career. Handel’s choral master piece Messiah will be a fitting finale for conductor Alan Bolt, who will bow out with the baton in Ulverston tonight. The work is the centre piece for Ulverston Bach Choir’s Christmas Concert at St Mary’s Parish Church ... Mr Bolt moved to Cumbria in 1984 and was invited to take over the Ulverston Bach Choir on the retirement of Gilbert Uren in 1986. NW Evening Mail, 1 Dec 2006.

Furness Ladies Choral Society:

  • Mrs Brown’s Choir becomes Furness Ladies' Choral Society: The annual meeting of Mrs Brown’s Ladies Choir was held at Thwaite-street School on Tuesday when it was decided that the choir be renamed ”The Furness Ladies Choral Society” … The choir competed at the Morecambe Festival at May, at Millom in October, and at Workington in November. The members were then reminded of previous successes at Millom and Workington, where the Silver Cup and the “Diana” Challenge Trophy were won, the former on two successive years … A vote of thanks was accorded to Mrs Brown, Miss Martindale (the pianist) and other officers. Barrow News, 21 Jan 1950.

  • Second place at Morecambe Festival under Mrs E Brown, Barrow News, 21 Apr 1951. 

  • Annual Christmas Dinner, Barrow News, 17 Dec 1957

Ghyll Singers: Ladies choir based in Ulverston; formed 1941 as Ulverston Townswomen's Guild Choir


Grange Choral Society:

  • Looking back to the late 19th century after his retirement, Barrow Choral Society conductor Dr Edward Brown wrote: "Similar societies were formed at Ulverston, Grange, Dalton and Millom, all of which I conducted and in course of time we combined for grand annual performances at Barrow with an orchestra and chorus of 300". Barrow News, 9 May 1931.

  • Grange Choral Society, "recently successful at Kendal Festival"; gave a concert for their subscribers in the Parish Hall, June 1939, conducted by Mr Mackereth Clark, "having taken over during the season owing to the untimely death of the late Mr C W Watson, who did much to bring the choir to its present eminent position" (Barrow News, 10 June 1939).

Gun Draughtsmen: concert at Barrow Workhouse on previous Wednesday evening; various soloists and chorus, Barrow News 31 Jan 1914. 


Haverigg & Millom Madrigal Society: competed at Barrow Musical Festival, 1913, winning 3rd prize.


Haverigg Male Voice Choir: participated in Millom Musical Festival (qv) under Mr J Mellon - at least in 1919.


Hindpool Road Wesleyan Choir (Barrow) under Mr W Loxham achieved top places in the 1899 and 1901 Barrow Music Festivals.


Independent Labour Party Choir (Barrow) [ILP Choir]: mixed choir; gave "an enjoyable performance" at Roose Institution on previous Sunday evening (Barrow News, 5 June 1926).


Kinsley Choir (Barrow) achieved 2nd place in the male choral section at the 1899 Barrow Music Festival.


Kirkby & Broughton Choral Group: combined choirs sang choruses from 'The Mikado'; collections in aid of Kirkby Nursing Association Fund, (Barrow  News, 28 Dec 1944 )


Lily Choir: Established by Mr James Nicholls, c1884.

  • This choir was formed about five years ago, with the aim of counteracting the influences of the public-houses and music-halls, and of assisting various religious and temperance societies by giving concerts of a refined and elevating character. Mr Nicholls has now decided to give services of selected sacred song at intervals during the winter in the Barrow Town Hall, and on Sunday afternoon last, the first of these services was held. Mr J Muckleston presided, and there was a good attendance. In the evening the choir rendered another service to a largely-increased congregation. Mr John W Chadwick occupied the chair. At both services the choir acquitted themselves exceedingly well, and their performances evoked hearty manifestations of approval. The selections were rendered in a style which reflected great credit on their conductor, Mr Nicholls, who also accompanied them on the American organ. The next services by the choir are to be given during the present month. Barrow Herald, 5 Oct 1889.

  • Mr James Nicholl's Lily Choir: On Monday evening last this choir gave one of their popular concerts in the Hartington street Primitive Methodist Chapel, before a good audience ... The proceeds of the concert go towards the liquidation of the debt on the church.  Barrow Herald, 12 March 1892.

  • Two sacred concerts by Mr James Nicholls' Lily Choir in Town Hall, Barrow.  Proceeds to war fund.  Barrow Herald, 27 Jan 1900.

  • Further concerts were later reported for the same objective in the Queen's Hall, Abbey Road.  Barrow Herald 26 Apr 1902. 

Lonsdale Ladies Choir: performed at Lindal Methodist Church centenary celebrations, September 1971


Millom Choral Society:  Looking back to the late 19th century after his retirement, Barrow Choral Society conductor Dr Edward Brown wrote: "Similar societies were formed at Ulverston, Grange, Dalton and Millom, all of which I conducted and in course of time we combined for grand annual performances at Barrow with an orchestra and chorus of 300". Barrow News, 9 May 1931. A society was still active in the 1970s.


Millom Male Voice Choir:

  • At the first of the season's concerts given by the Millom Male Voice Choir in the Co-perative Hall on Monday evening the conductor Mr G H Cooke gave an interesting resume of the history of the choir since its inauguration.  He said it arose through the Male Voices Quartette in connection with the United Methodist Church in 1898, the late Mr J H Norsworthy being the conductor, with his son as pianist.  The secretaryship was in the hands of Mr John James and then as now the treasurer was Mr T Knockey. Mr Cook went on to outline the success of the choir at various festivals, its ups and downs, and made reference to the loss of many of its members who made the supreme sacrifice during the War.  Millom Gazette, 11 Nov 1919.

  • Participation from the Millom choir noted at the Dalton Music Festival, Feb 1909 and in the Morecambe Festival, June 1910. 

  • Millom Male Voice Choir: Visit of Miss Florrie Stevens and Mr John Graham - The concert given by this choir in the Co-operative Hall on Monday night was distinctly above the average, for with commendable enterprise the promoters had engaged for the occasion Miss Florrie Stevenson of Cleator Moor, who was the prize celloist at the Blackpool Musical Festival in 1912, and winner of the silver cup at the Cumberland Musical Festival for the last three years in succession, as well as Mr John Graham, the popular humorist and entertainer of the Blackpool Towner and Midland Hotel ( Manchester) concerts.  … The Male Voice Choir, conducted by Mr H G Cooke, acquitted itself well in several difficult numbers … Mr J Bond accompanied throughout in capable style.  At the interval Mr Cooke in a genial speech commended the objects of the choir to the musical public of Millom, and explained the advantages offered to young singers through membership of the organisation, which existed to promote the study of good music. Barrow Herald 15 Nov 1913.

  • At Cumberland Music Festival, Millom, Dec 1924 (The Times, 1 Dec 1924)

  • In class 45 (male voice choirs)  [at the Morecambe Festival on Saturday] ... the test pieces were (a) part song 'The Blossoms' (P Edmonds), and (b) part-song 'Contentment' (Boughton). The third prize was won by Millom Male Voice Choir, conductor Mr James Bond. Barrow News, 9 May 1925.

  • Appeared under the conductorship of Mr J Bond at the revived Barrow festivals - certainly in 1931 and 1932.

  • In 1939 they performed 'The End of a Perfect Day' alongside the celebrated contralto Kathleen Ferrier in her first-ever radio broadcast. 

  • A photograph of the Millom choir, lent by a reader and dated 8 Jan 1939, appeared in the Carlisle News & Star, 1 Aug 2008; it has also appeared online, giving a full list of names.

  • Won North of England championship at Newcastle Music Festival, 1939 (Barrow News, 20 May 1939), singing 'Quiet Sleep' and 'Old King Cole', with Mr James Bond winning a gold medal. Christmas Concert in Co-operative Hall, Millom, reported in Barrow News, 28 Dec 1944. 

  • Programme for Celebrity Concert for Cancer Research Fund with Owen Brannigan, William H Evans (cellist), Millom Mixed Choir and Millom Male Voice Choir (conductor Frank G Crayston), Alexandra Hall, [Millom], 11 Sep 1960 (amongst BMVC records).

  • Falling numbers led to the final closure of the Millom choir in c1968-69. The members never had any distinctive uniform, but generally wore dark suits or lounge suits. (Information from a former member)

Millom Mixed Choir: see previous entry under Millom Male Voice Choir (1960).



  • Director of the Millom Mixed Voice Choir from the day it formed to the day it disbanded, Mr Frank Crayston has died this week. He will be greatly missed by local music lovers … For several years Mr Crayston (65), a funeral director, was also the musical director of the Millom Operatic Society. Barrow News, 18 Mar 1983.

Millom Queen Street Methodist Male Voice Choir




Mrs Brown's Choir: see Furness Ladies Choral Society


Orpheans Choir (Barrow): a ladies choir that won first place at the 1932 Barrow Festival (conducted by  F Smith).  Barrow News, 10 October 1932.


Orpheus Choir (Walney): see Walney Male Voice Choir


Railway Club Male Voice Choir (Barrow) [see also Barrow LMS Male Voice Choir, 1920s-30s]

  • Railway Veterans enjoy reunion [report on a party at Barrow Railway Club]: … An excellent tea was followed by a most enjoyable concert, with Mr G Hattersley as compere. The artists were the Railway Club Male Voice Choir led by Mr T E Dunstan … The Railway Club male voice choir was making its second appearance and scored a quite notable success. The choir has been formed among railway men who are members of the club and is already promising great things. Barrow News, 15 Jan. 1949

Rampside Women's Institute Choir: won the Lilla Rome cup at Lancashire Federation of Women's Institutes Choral Festival, 1954, with test pieces 'Brother James Air (Gordon Jacobs) and 'Farthings' (Eastthorpe Martin), (NW Evening Mail, 29 Nov 1954).


Salthouse and Roose Musical Union: A Second Choral Society: On Thursday night last a meeting was held in the Cambridge-street Schools of persons resident in the Salthouse and Roose end of the town to consider the desirability of forming a musical union for the study of sacred and secular music for voices and instruments. The meeting was fairly well attended, and was very ably presided over by Mr R B D Bradshaw. It was unanimously agreed to form such a society, to be designated "The Salthouse and Roose Musical Union". The society will meet weekly in the Cambridge-street Mixed Board School (if permission can be obtained from the School Board) on Thursday evenings, at 7-30, during the winter months. Barrow Herald, 4 Nov 1890.


St James's Ladies' Choir (Barrow):

  • The St James's Ladies Choir, founded by Dr Brown in 1899, was soon to be partnered from 1900 onwards by a new mixed choir, the Barrow Madrigal Society under Miss Lones (Mrs T M Bourne)

  • Another Triumph at Birmingham: The musical traditions of the North Country were finely upheld at the Midland musical competition, which culminated at Birmingham on Saturday in a battle of choirs.  The St James's Ladies' Choir from Barrow-in-Furness which triumphed at each of the great festivals held at Birmingham in the two previous years, again sang superbly and bore off premier honours.  Barrow Herald, 30 May 1914.

Ulverston Bach Choir: see Furness Bach Choir


Ulverston Choral Society: stated on its website to date from 1844; this date was also used in newspaper advertising (e.g. Mendelssohn's 'Elijah' at Oddfellows Hall, Barrow News, 7 Oct 1933)Still active; specialises in choral music for larger mixed choirs.

  • On Wednesday evening a grand concert consisting of Mendelssohn's 'Hymn of Praise' and the first and second parts of Haydn's sublime oratorio 'The Creation' was given in the Drill Hall by the members of the choral societies of Barrow, Dalton and Ulverston, together with a full orchestral band, the total number of performers being about 300 ... Dr Brown of course occupying the post of conductor. Barrow Herald, 14 Feb 1885.

  • Looking back to the late 19th century after his retirement, Barrow Choral Society conductor Dr Edward Brown wrote: "Similar societies were formed at Ulverston, Grange, Dalton and Millom, all of which I conducted and in course of time we combined for grand annual performances at Barrow with an orchestra and chorus of 300". Barrow News, 9 May 1931.

  • Grand Miscellaneous Concert including 'Banner of St George' in Ulverston Drill Hall on 30th January (Advert: Barrow News, 14 Jan 1905)


  • Report on AGM in Oddfellows Hall mentions recent performance of Mendelssohn's 'Hymn of Praise' and annual concert featuring 'Elijah', assisted by members of Barrow Madrigal Society and Kendal Choral Society.  Slight financial loss during year.  Conductor Edmund Telfer. (Barrow News, 10 July 1926)

  • Choral Society advertisement for Grand Concert with Frank Mullins on 16 April at Coronation Hall, Ulverston, Barrow News 13 April 1929.

  • Ulverston Choral Society: President Mr S Hart Jackson; Hon Secretary Mr J P Penny; Conductor Mr W Broome, FRCO, LRAM. Rehearsals weekly during winter months in Oddfellows Hall [Furness Year Book, 1937].

  •  Programmes for Ulverston Choral Society's "Opera for Everybody and Lobgesgang", 4 May 1954 [in Cumbria Archives, Barrow, Z3496]

Ulverston Ladies Choir: a choir of that name had been in existence at least by 5 May 1899, when they were reported as participating at the Morecambe Musical Festival. The Manchester Courier, 14 May 1900, reported that their performance at the same event in the following year under Miss O M Fell had been "marred by the presence of a persistent vibrato and a lack of sparkle".  The most recent choir merged with Ulverston Male Voice Choir c1970 to form Ulverston Bach Choir (later Furness Bach Choir, qv.)


Ulverston Ladies Evening Choir: active in 1940s-50s (e.g. Cumbria Archive Service, Barrow: Coronation Hall bookings diary, 6 Mar 1947).



Ulverston: Mr Constantine's pupils (1840s): Two references to choral singing around the Ulverston area in the 1840s with instruction from a travelling director, inspired by the methods of John Pyke Hullah (1812-1884), an English composer and teacher of music.




A striking illustration of the diffused influence of Mr Hullah's enthusiasm is to be found in the results of the labours of Mr Constantine amongst the mountains of Cumberland and amidst the whirr of the machinery of Northern England, among a people famous in these days [1861] for their good choral singing.  When in [eighteen] forty-two Mr Constantine began working Mr Hullah's system, under the direction of Mr Crowe at Liverpool, he taught first a mixed class at Birkenhead and gradually undertook the following round as his week's work ... His first business was to get to Ulverston, twenty-two miles distant; the way being across the sands of Morecambe Bay.  This journey in winter time had to be made often in the dark, because the low tide and the morning sun would not always keep in harmony together. The winter fogs, too, are at Morecambe Bay not very welcome to a lonely rider travelling on horseback, and obliged to rely on his horse's knowledge of the track. Class-day in quiet Ulverston was always a gala-day. The singing-master's horse was sure to be well looked after, for Ulverston, the town farthest north in Lancashire, stands on a tongue of land where there was nothing to enliven its work but the market-day till the musicians came. The four thousand inhabitants yielded three singing classes; one contained about fifty ladies and gentlemen, another forty children, and the other was a general class of a hundred. The excellent organist kept up the work and has conducted an Ulverston musical society from that  time, we believe, to this. People came from miles away to be taught in these classes.  A cartload of poor children used to be sent by a kind lady from Bardsea. A hale old clergyman walked in all weathers, nine miles into Ulverston and nine miles out again, to qualify himself for teaching, upon Mr Hullah's system, his schoolchildren and parishioners, that so he might elevate not only the music in his church, but also the happiness, and even the morals, of his district.  He was rewarded with a success beyond his expectations.  On Thursdays the lecturer went on to Ambleside, a ride of twenty-one miles, to a place that is in winter very quiet, with its five or six hundred inhabitants sorely in need of wholesome entertainment. Here, where there used to be the most horribly nasal and inharmonious imitation of church music, there is now sung by the people a plain musical service, irreproachable in taste..


From: 'Life of John Hullah' by John Hullah, quoting an account of a week's work in 1842, taken from 'All the Year Round' [a Victorian periodical founded by Charles Dickens], this particular  account having been  previously unpublished till January 5, 1861. Also quoted in Norfolk News, Saturday 12 January 1861

  • ULVERSTON – MUSIC: The inhabitants of this town and neighbourhood have, in the absence of theatricals, been lately entertained with some "Musical Attractions".  On Thursday week, Mr Harrison, from Lancaster, introduced the far-famed Mr Lindley, accompanied by Mr Blagrove, the Misses Williams, &c.; and on Thursday last, Mr Constantine, who for some months past has been giving instructions to very numerous and respectable ladies on the Hullah system, produced to the public a rich bill of fare … The scena and coro "Allegiance we swear" from the opera of Henri Quatre by Bishop was most powerfully given, and the choristers (a number of Mr Constantine's pupils) sufficiently showed the excellence of their training … Kendal Mercury - Saturday 6 January 1844

Ulverston Male Voice Choir:

  • A movement has been started in Ulverston by Mr Alfred Thompson for the formation of a male voice choir and a permanent amateur orchestra. Already a number of young men have joined the male voice choir, and at the first rehearsal in the Oddfellows' Hall there was a gratifying attendance in spite of the short notice and bad weather. Several songs were rehearsed (Barrow News, 25 Jan 1930).

  • On Sunday evening under the leadership of Mr Alfred Thompson a rehearsal was given by the members of the North Lonsdale Police Force of the 'Policemen's Chorus' from the 'Pirates of Penzance', to be sung at the police concert in the Ulverston Coronation Hall on Friday evening, by special permission of Mr R D'Oyly Carte. The choruses to be rendered by the newly formed male voice choir were also rehearsed. Several new members have joined and the attendance numbered 25 [Barrow News, 1 Feb 1930]. 

  • Gave concert for Festival of Britain, 18 June 1951 (programme: Cumbria Archives, Barrow);

  • Performed at Neville Street Methodist Church Fellowship under conductor Mr J Haslam (Evening Mail, 25 Feb 1954)

  • Ulverston Male Voice Choir (conductor Mr William M Jacobs) were well praised for their performance in the Lancashire County Choral Festival at Ashton Hall, Lancaster, on Saturday. Of the test piece 'Blow Away the Morning Dew', Dr Tom M McCourt, adjudicator, said: This was a delicate tuneful performance. I liked the way the tenors tackled the high A's and the grading was excellent … Of the second piece 'Hymn Before Action' he said: "This was a good contrast and I must confess they surprised me with the amount of good full tone they could produce … the whole performance was thrilling." [NW Evening Mail, 25 Apr 1955]

  • Shown participating in concert at Vickerstown Methodist Church, 7 Dec 1956 (Barrow News, 5 December 1956.

  • Conducted by Mr Trudgill during early 1960s, when membership was very small - around sixteen. (Information from a former member)

  • Eventually combined c1970 with Ulverston Ladies Choir to form the Ulverston Bach Choir (later renamed Furness Bach Choir).


Ulverston Mixed Voice Choir: performed at Lindal Methodist Church centenary celebrations, 1971


Ulverston Musical Society (c1820): Clearly had a broader remit than merely choral works, but apparently performed vocal pieces during the early 1820s.  Extracts from the biography of John Hullah suggest that there was also a musical society within the town during the 1840s and 1860s, although it is not clear whether this was an unbroken continuation.

  • FURNESS YEOMANRY CAVALRY: On Tuesday last, T G Braddyll, Esq., MP, gave a grand entertainment at his seat at Conishead Priory, to the Furness Yeomanry Cavalry, together with several others of the resident Gentry in and about Ulverstone, making in the whole upwards of 100 persons.  On the removal of the cloth, "Non Nobis Domine" was sung in grand style by several of the Members of the Ulverstone Musical Society, the whole of which was in attendance; ;after which the conviviality of the evening was supported by several loyal songs and sentiments … Westmorland Gazette - Saturday 29 January 1820.

  • AT ULVERSTON: On Thursday the 3d inst. the celebration of his Majesty's Birth-day was held at Ulverston; when the loyalty so characteristic of that town, and frequently evinced upon former occasions, was not less conspicuous on the present … The whole corps of the Furness Cuirassiers (which has lately been considerably augmented) about eleven o'clock assembled in Cavendish-street; from whence they proceeded to Conishead Priory, the seat of the High Sheriff, their Commandant … About four o'clock, the whole corps, and several neighbouring gentlemen, dined in the Gothic Conservatory at the Priory; after which several loyal and constitutional toasts were given, and appropriate songs and music introduced at intervals, and admirably performed by the Ulverston Musical Society; amongst which were the following:

         The King – God save the King and March

         The Duke of York – The Duke of York's March

         The Duke of Clarence - Rule Britannia

         The Duke of Wellington – See the Conquering Hero Comes

         The Heroes of Waterloo, Glee, To arms and Britons strike home

         The Yeomanry of Great Britain and Ireland - The Cavalier Song and Chorus

         [and various other pieces]  …


        The company broke about nine o'clock having spent the day with the utmost conviviality

        and cheerfulness, and evincing their ready attachment to their King and country's welfare.

        Lancaster Gazette - Saturday 19 May 1821

  • FURNESS CUIRASSIERS: This highly discipled [sic] troop, under the commend of Col. Braddyll, left Ulverston about ten o'clock on Whitmonday, accompanied by the Ulverston Musical Society and the flags of the different benefit societies of the town, as far as the sand side. Westmorland Gazette, 12th Jun 1824

Ulverston Townswomen's Guild Choir - see Ghyll Singers


Vickers Male Voice Choir: representing the town's main employer, which had moved into Barrow in 1897 (taking over an existing firm).  Active by 1930s right up to 1975.

  • Barrow News 15 Jan 1938 reported on a concert by the Vickers choir in the King's Hall.

  • Advert for concert on 22 March in Storey Street Methodist Church conducted by Mr F Hollows: North West Evening Mail, 22 Mar 1941.

  • The Vickers Armstrongs Male Voice (Barrow) Choir broadcast on BBC Home Service, 2 Aug 1941 (reported in The Times; also in North West Evening Mail) and again in 1944 (Barrow News, 18 Nov 1944), when they sang '"Bless This House" and "Shoulder Your Arms" (Marche Militaire) from the works canteen.

  • A concert at the Town Hall, 30 Sep 1944, in aid of the Sea Cadets Appeal included soloists Merle Davidson, soprano,; Alan Denton, baritone, Fred Morgan, tenor, and Harry Marsden, bass.

  • Concert at Barrow Grammar School on previous Saturday (Barrow News, 25 Jan 1947)

  • At Saturday night's final session of the Morecambe Musical Festival, … in the male voice choirs (A) Vickers-Armstrongs were placed third with 252 marks, whilst Barrow Madrigal (Mr V Dilks were joint second in the class for female voice choirs (open) with 262 and also second in the class for mixed voice choirs (A) with 261. NW Evening Mail, 2 May 1948.

  • Second place at Nelson festival: test pieces Hope the Hornblower and Sing Out Ye Nymphs (Barrow News, 21 Apr 1951). 

  • The choir faced recruitment difficulties in 1965 when an amalgamation with the Working Men's Choir had been unsuccessfully proposed. 

  • Performing at annual carol service in Salvation Army Citadel, 1971 (NW Evening Mail, 11 Dec 1971)

  • Vickers Choir eventually folded in March 1975, donating all its remaining music to the Working Men's Choir

  • At one time there had also been a quite separate Vickers Gunshop Male Voice Choir (concert at North Lonsdale Hospital reported in Barrow News, 4 Nov 1944) and a Vickers East Shop Choir - when shipbuilding and naval armaments manufacture had provided employment for many thousands of residents.

  •  Vickers East Shop Choir: mentioned above

  • Vickers Gun Draughtsmen: On Wednesday evening the eleventh annual concert was given to the Workhouse inmates by the Gun Draughtsmen, the proceedings being presided over by the chairman of the Board, Mr R T Taylor, who was supported by Councillor Huddleston and Mr A G Smith, fellow members, and other visitors ... The accompanists were Mr H Street and Mr A Downing. During the interval tobacco, fruit and sweets were presented to the inmates, and the customary thanks were tendered at the close.  Barrow News, 31 Jan. 1914.

  • Vickers-Armstrongs Gunshop Choir, 1944 A pleasant function took place at the Furness Hotel, Barrow, on Friday week when a number of presentations were made in connection with Vickers-Armstrongs Gunshop Choir. Following an excellent hot-pot supper, Mr E Stanyer, the choirmaster, handed a framed copy of a picture of the choir taken when they were practicing on night shift in the gun pit, to Mr J P Rogers, the president … A toast to the President was proposed by Mr T Law, vice-chairman, who recalled that the choir was formed in order to provide amusement for night shift workers who had not the benefit of ENSA concerts … Thanking both, Mr Roberts said that many a time in the still watches of the night he had stood near No 1 Bay and listening to the choir singing imagine4d for a moment he was in the nave of a cathedral. He had thoroughly enjoyed it. Mr Stanyer also presented a copy of the Oxford Companion of Music to Mrs M Killiner, the accompanist, and a toast was proposed by Mr J Quinn, choir secretary. A framed copy of the choir photograph was also presented to Mr Stanyer by Mr Rogers, friends since 1911 when they were members of the same choir at Todmorden. He also recalled the formation of a party during the last war period which gave concerts in Barrow and district. Thanking members for their gift, Mr Stanyer said he felt sure that they would all look back with happy memories on their activities in connection with the choir. Barrow News 23 Dec 1944.

Vickerstown Male Voice Choir: Active early 20C.; first performance 1909. (See also separate entries for Vickerstown Institute Male Voice Choir and Walney Male Voice Choir). Renamed 1912; disappeared c1914.

  • Drawing-room concert at Vickerstown: For the first time in the history of Vickerstown has a concert of such musical splendour been given on the island as was rendered on Thursday evening last in the Parish Hall, under the auspices of the Vickerstown Male Voice Choir. The feature of the evening was of course the "Gramophone Grand" kindly lent and operated by Mr Coun. Miller, and the rendering of the world famous singers quite surpassed public expectations.  As was to be expected the accommodation provided by the hall was too limited for all who wished to participate in the evening's entertainment and the fact that the hall was crowded in every part was proof if any was required that the Vickerstonians are distinctly musical in their tastes. The two pieces rendered by the choir, 'Soldiers' Chorus' and 'Come where my love is dreaming' were given with much accuracy, the good time and enunciation also being quite marked for the first public appearance of a young choir, and Mr Wm. Currie, the conductor is to be congratulated on his initial success, which augurs well for the future of the choir. Barrow Herald 2  Mar 1909.

  • Vickerstown Male Voice Choir gave "an excellent entertainment" on Thursday evening in the Parish Hall, conducted by Mr W Currie (Barrow Herald, 11 Feb 1911).

  • Renamed Barrow Male Voice Choir, 1912. "All the practices are now conducted in the Mission Room, Stanley Road, Barrow Island, and as the majority of the members reside in Barrow it was considered desirable to alter the name of the choir to 'The Barrow Male Voice Choir'." No definite later references - presumably ceased operations during the First World War.


              BARROW NEWS 13 JAN 1912


Vickerstown Institute Male Voice Choir: participated in the Barrow Musical Festival - at least in October 1931 and October 1932. Conductor: G Draper (Barrow News, 10 Oct 1932).


Vickerstown Juvenile Choral Society (?Barrow Juvenile Choral Society): On Monday night a concert was given in the Parish Hall by members of this society ... The society intend giving an operetta "Jack Tar" in the Town Hall on 26th inst when some 200 children will take part.  Barrow News, 6 Feb 1903.


Walney Choral Society:

  • Performance of The Messiah in Hartington Street Methodist Church on previous Sunday evening (Barrow News, 2 Jan 1937).

  • Social evening in Presbyterian Church Schoolroom; whist drive, games, musical evening.  Barrow News, 6 Feb 1937.

Walney Male Voice Choir:  Founded 1902. Briefly mentioned ("prospered") in Bryn Trescatheric, 'Walney, Wind and Water', p28 (2008), based on some early references in the Vickerstown Chronicle . [See also separate entry for Vickerstown Male Voice Choir.]  Presumably disappeared around time of First World War, c1914.

  • Walney Male Voice Choir: Under the auspices of the above choir, and under the chairmanship of Councillor A Brown, an excellent concert was given in the Town Hall on Saturday evening. There was a very crowded attendance, and the concert throughout was of a very enjoyable and successful character.  As the chairman pointed out in the course of his opening remarks, the choir, although but recently formed, has now a membership of over forty, and their performances on Saturday evening were particularly praiseworthy, evidencing very careful training ... The other artistes also scored heavily  …[The programme included]  'Glory and love to the men of old' [accompanied by the Shipyard Band].  Barrow Herald, 23 Mar 1902.

  • Series of concerts 1902 in new Parish Hall, Walney, and in Barrow Town Hall. Dr Douglas Anderson explained the objects of the society; mentioned choir had recently entertained the inmates of Roose Workhouse; two recent cruises on board 'Lady Evelyn' provided entertainment for passengers (Barrow Herald, 11 Oct 1902).

  • The second annual concert in connection with the Walney Male Voice Choir was held in the Town Hall, Barrow, on Saturday evening, and proved a great success, both from a musical and financial point of view.  The choir since its establishment has made rapid progress towards efficiency and the membership now numbers over thirty.  The president is Mr R Hannah; conductor Mr Kay; accompanist Master M Kay; hon. secretaries Messrs J W Cowen and E Harris; and treasurer Mr V H Lucas ... [Programme and choir members listed] ... Barrow Herald, 14 March 1903.

  • Assisted Mr J A McAllister's orchestra in a grand concert at The Hippodrome, Abbey Road, on Sudan 3 July, in aid of Barrow Lifeboat Saturday Fund (NW Daily Mail, 2 July 1904).

  • Previous Sunday Concert in Town Hall "reflected great credit on the merits of the members under the able conductorship of Mr T H Houghton". Programme included 'The Mighty Lord', 'The Beleaguered' and 'The Pilgrims Chorus'.  (Barrow Herald 4 Mar 1905)

  • Choir Ramble – On Saturday afternoon last, amidst sunshine, hail, showers, and snow showers, etc., the members of the Barrow Orpheus Male Voice Choir, late the Walney Male Voice Choir, had a most enjoyable outing around by Roose, Leece, Gleaston, Baycliff, Bardsea, and Ulverston … Mr H Houghton was musical director and each village passed through received Mr Houghton's attention by some rousing choruses … These rambles are arranged to take place monthly, and it is expected to make this choir one of the best in the district. Good tenor voices will be heartily welcomed. Barrow Herald, 5 May 1906.

  • Hospital Concerts: good programme given on Monday evening by Walney Male Voice Choir. Pianist Mr Wharton; conductor Mr Currie. (Barrow Herald, 28 Feb 1911)




Associated Choir Festival: Not strictly a secular event - it was organised purely for church choirs in the Archdeaconry of Furness; Established 1889.

  • On Wednesday afternoon the first annual festival of the Association of Church Choirs for the Archdeaconry of Furness was held in the Ulverston Parish Church in the the presence of a congregation of nearly 1,000 persons.  Nearly 500 voices, representing the churches of Ulverston, Dalton, Barrow, Millom, Cartmel, Grange, Urswick, Kirkby Ireleth, Broughton, Haverthwaite, Colton, Flookburgh and Finsthwaite took part in the service.  Lancaster Gazette, 29 June 1889.
  • Held at Cartmel 15 June 1898 (Mackereth's Furness Year Book, 1899).
  • The associated choirs of the Archdeaconry of Furness held their annual musical festival in St George's Church, Barrow, on Saturday.  The choristers numbered 416 … Dr Brown was the conductor and Mr E R Franklin presided at the organ … Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser,  18 June 1906.

Barrow-in-Furness Musical Festival & Competition:

Stated in Barrow Year Book 1913 to have been founded in 1899, and to be currently under the chairmanship of Mr F J Ramsden.  However it seems to have lapsed after that same year.  Briefly revived 1931-c1932.

  • 1899 Festival: A two days' musical festival, the first held in Barrow, concluded last night.  The success of the festivals held at Morecambe, Kendal and other places gave rise to the idea of holding similar meetings at Barrow, and the result of the venture has been so encouraging that the promoters will next year carry it out on a much more ambitious scale.  All the leading firms in the town subscribed liberally ... Local choirs competition, 12 to 24 voices: 1st Hindpool Road (Barrow) Wesleyan Choir, 94 points; 2nd Kinsley Choir (Barrow) 92 points ... 24 to 50 voices ... 1st Presbyterian Choir (Workington), conductor Mr Harkness; 2nd Hindpool Road Wesleyan Church (Barrow), conductor Mr W Loxham. Liverpool Mercury, 24 Nov 1899

  • 1900 Festival: The second annual musical festival was commenced at Barrow yesterday and will be concluded tonight. Last year the success was almost phenomenal, both as regards entries and attendance, the hall being much too small to accommodate all who desired to gain admittance., This year the committee engaged the Drill Hall, and even this was found to be none too large, the place being full. Immense interest is taken in the festival, now only in Barrow, but in a wide district, special trains being run. The entries number close upon 140, including some from Yorkshire, Cumberland, Westmorland, and various parts of Lancashire. The adjudicators are: Music, Mr W G McNaught, Mus. Doc; Literary, the Rev R P Dawson, LL.D; the Rev Canon Rawnsley, Mr G A Lightfoot, and Mr C F Preston (Town Clerk of Barrow). Miss Winifred Wright, LRAM, officiated as accompanist. Liverpool Mercury, 15 Nov 1900.

  • 1901 Festival: "The Mayor of Barrow's remarks on the want of a suitable hall met with emphatic approval from the audience ... Best song for choirs of 24 to 50 voices was an exceptionally keen contest, the test piece, Smart's Cradle Song, being of a character to test the musical capabilities of the contestants ... Result: Barrow Madrigal Society (conductor Miss Lones) 95 marks, 1st; Barrow Hindpool Road Wesleyan Choir (conductor W Loxham), 93 marks, 2nd ... For the male voice quartette competition there were six competitors ... Dr Parry's adjudication did not give universal satisfaction  ... There were cries of 'What about Vickersdale Quartette?', to which Dr Parry retorted: 'I cannot say anything about nothing' (slight hissing and loud applause). (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 15 Nov 1901). Events were held in the Drill Hall; musical adjudicators were Dr Joseph Parry of University College, Cardiff [remembered as composer of the hymn tune 'Aberystwyth'], and Mr H Whittaker from Blackpool Glee and Madrigal Society (North West Daily Mail, 12 Nov 1901).

  • 1902 Festival: "The three-day Barrow Music Festival attracted 1500 entries, with the amphitheatre being "crowded with well known soloists, glee societies or choirs." Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 21 November 1902

  • 1904 Festival: "It is gratifying to find that in this out-of-the-way corner of Lancashire a  considerable section of the community exhibits real enthusiasm for musical study. The three days' festival (the sixth of the series), held on October 27, 28 and 29, was a pleasant evidence of this desire to learn and to excel. Insomuch as the idea of the promoters of the scheme, as is of many similar schemes, is to encourage the people to make music for themselves rather than to bring performers from the outside to be merely listened to, the Festival was necessarily cast in the competitive mould. Only in this way can soloists of all kinds and small choirs and bands be effectively encouraged. The competitions were arranged in 32 classes ... many of the solo-singing results were of quite a high standard. Seven male-voice choirs, chiefly composed of the working classes, came from the surrounding district. The test piece was Elgar's 'Feasting I watch'. The Workington Orpheus, under Mr Joseph Scott, gave a very fine performance and gained the first place, and the Lancaster Male Voice Choir, under Mr R T Grosse, came second, being only one mark behind. In the chief mixed-voice choir section the Barrow Madrigal Society, under Mrs Bourne, gave excellent performances of 'Cupid and Rosalind' (Stanford) and 'Mary Morrison' (G J Bennett) and were placed first. Almost equally good were the performances of the Blackpool Orpheus Glee Society, under Mr Clifford Higgin. The audiences were generally large, and always keenly attentive and appreciative. The Festival is well managed in every respect, from the choice of music for competition down to the smallest detail, by the musical and business men and others who devote themselves unsparingly to the social welfare of the town. Mr T G Symons is the secretary. Dr McNaught conducted the concerts and adjudicated the competitions for the third time. Musical Times, 1 Dec 1904.

  • 1906 Festival: "The annual competition festival was held very successfuly on November 8, 9 and 10.  There were thirty-five classes and over 300 entries. The chief  choral prizes were awarded as follows: Barrow St James Ladies (Mrs Bourne), Lancaster Male-Voice Choir (Mr R T Grosse) for mixed voice choirs; Keighley Vocal Union (Mr G S Day) for madrigal singing and Barrow Madrigal Society (Mrs Bourne) for part-songs. Dr Henry Watson and Mr George Rathbone were the adjudicators."  Musical Times, 1 Dec 1906.

  • 1913 Barrow Musical Festival: "Shield retained by Barrow ... Saturday was the closing day f the fifteenth annual musical festival and it has at once to be confessed that its success left something to be desired, both from the point of view of the number of entries and he attendance of the general public ... The feature of the afternoon was the ladies' choir competition and to these Mr ?erry Evans the adjudicator spoke very encouragingly.  In another instance however the competitors felt the lash of his criticism and the first prize was not awarded.  Ladies: 1st St James's Ladies; 2nd Millom Madrigal Ladies.  Mixed Voices: 1st Barrow Madrigal Society (Mrs Bourne) 143 marks; 2nd Carnforth Choral Society (Mr E E Unsworth (141 marks; 3rd Haverigg & Millom Madrigal Society, 140 marks.

  • Barrow News 10 October 1931 reported on the festival and "its revival after 18 years", with the two adjudicators being Mr Julius Harrison of Hastings and Mr W R Anderson of London. Its success in attracting entries led to plans for the festivals continuation in the following years (1932-?). Some [most? all?] events were held in the King's Hall, Hartington Street.  (The Barrow County Borough Education Committee also separately organised an annual Schools Musical Festival, held in the King's Hall, with the June 1931 competition being described as the "third annual festival".  Files survive in Barrow Education Committee boxes, Cumbria Archives, Barrow, 1930s-60s. Programmes mention involvement by Barrow Male Voice Choir [sic] 1953, 1958, and possibly other dates. 

  • Barrow Working Men's Institute Male Voice Choir participated in the Barrow festivals of 1931 and 1932.  On 3 Oct 1931: 1st place, 174 marks (3 ahead of Millom MVC). 

  • Barrow Musical Festival: During the evening the Town Clerk (Mr W C Chislett) announced that following an appeal on Thursday night, a rose bowl had been presented for competition next year. The donor who wished to remain anonymous had given the trophy for elocution; the entries in that section this year had not been sufficient to enable them to run a contest, and it was hoped the prize would attract entries. NW Daily Mail, 5 Oct 1931.

  • At Barrow Festival 8 Oct 1932 the Barrow choir was awarded the 1st place certificate ahead of Vickerstown Institute MVC and Millom MVC (Barrow News, 10 Oct 1932). Adjudicators:  Julius Harrison and Thomas F Dunhill.

  • The Barrow festival seems to have lapsed once again shortly after 1932.  A revived festival was being proposed in 1944, with a provisional target date of September 1945 (Barrow News, 4 Nov 1944).

Blackpool Musical Festival (now Blackpool Festival for Music, Dance and Speech)): founded 1901.  Barrow Working Men's Choir and other local choirs have participated on several occasions, including 1946, 1947, 1955-60, 1965, 1967 and 1969 (1st place).


Colne Music Festival: founded 1900.  "The fourth annual musical festival and vocal and instrumental competition took place ... in the Municipal Hall, Colne".  Burnley Express, 16 December 1903.  Barrow Male Voice Choir achieved 3rd place in 1954.


Cumberland Music Festival:

Festivals commencing 1872: the earliest references relate seemingly to the Workington Music Festival (qv). See also Millom Musical Festival (from 1919)


Dalton Music Festival (Dalton Music Festival and Eisteddfod):

"The Dalton Eisteddfods, the first to be held in Furness, were started in 1897 by the Congregationalist minister, the Rev. J Williams. The programme consisted of competitive solo singing, impromptu speech making, reading at sight an unpunctuated passage, spontaneous answer of questions, and an anthem competition for choirs. ... For several years the Eisteddfod was a great success, always outshining the Ulverston one, which started with great difficulty in 1899. Gradually however its popularity declined, probably because no-one could be found to take the place of its founder, who it seems wanted to hand over the responsibility of organising the event to a civic committee. [James E Walton, A History of Dalton-in-Furness, pp.98-99]

  • Two programmes from the festivals for 1906 and 1908 were mentioned in North West Evening Mail, 25 & 28 June 2013.  Festival apparently held in Dalton Congregational Church under the aegis of Rev J Williams.

  • The Manchester Courier on 11 February 1909 contained a report on the "thirteenth annual music festival", adjudicated by Mr T J Bellingham of Leeds Philharmonic Society. 

Fleetwood Music Festival:

Freckleton Music Festival (near Preston): "Freckleton Music Festival originated in 1939 thanks to the efforts of County Councillor Richard Spencer M.B.E. who to this day in the cornerstone of the festival." http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/domesday.  Some participation by Barrow Working Men's Choir, including 1947, 1948, 1973 and 1979.


Kendal Music Festival: see Westmorland Music Festival


Lancashire County Choral Festival (Lancaster and elsewhere): held in various locations c1950-c1970s?. Participants during 1955 included the Ulverston Male Voice Choir.


Liverpool Music Festival: Barrow Male Voice Choir 2nd place in 1937.


Lytham Music Festival (Lytham Proms): established 1901 (June 1905 apparently the "fifth annual festival" according to Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 3 June 1905).  Still active. 

  • Barrow Male Voice Choir (under different titles) participated on many occasions including 1932, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1939, 1947-1955, 1957-1959.

Millom Musical Festival: sometimes referred to as the Cumberland Music Festival (see The Times reference below to the 4th Annual Festival in 1924 being held at Millom, although the festival actually dates from 1919.  The town  continued to be used as a festival venue until 1976, when the need for a larger and more convenient location led to the inauguration of the South Cumbria Music Festival at Ulverston.

  • 1919 Festival: Millom Musical Festival first advertised in Millom Gazette, 26 Sep 1919: scheduled for 2, 3 & 4 October 1919 in the Co-operative Hall.  105 entries and 400 competitions; attendance by Askam Silver Band, Barrow Shipyard Band; Holborn Hill Band and Haverigg Band. Millom Gazette 31 Oct subsequently reported that "postponed a month ago on account of the railway strike, the Millom Musical Festival which will extend over three whole days opened yesterday, and at the final competitions held in the evening at the Cooperative Hall the attendance on the opening night was encouraging ... Dr Jackson is President for the festival with Mr H D Shardlow as chairman of a strong executive committee ... adjudicators include H C Cooke, conductor of Millom Male Voice Choir and Haverigg Madrigal Choir; W Griffin, organist and choirmaster at St George's Church, Millom, and conductor of Millom Operatic Society, and G Mudge, late bandmaster of Holborn Hill Royal Brass Band ... Result for male voice choirs: 1st St George's Millom Male Voice Choir (conductor H H Thomas); 2nd Frizington Male Voice Choir (J W Moore); 3rd Haverigg Male Voice Choir (J Mellon).

  • 1924 Festival: Cumberland Music Festival: The "4th annual festival" held at Millom was reported in The Times, 28 Nov & 1 Dec 1924, the adjudicator being Mr Harvey Grace of London ... 1924 Festival: "I cannot say nice things about the contraltos," declared Mr Harvey Grace at the close of a three days' musical festival at Millom, Cumberland.  Mr Grace asked all members of the audience who could distinguish the words sung by the contraltos to hold up their hands.  Only one member did so.  The adjudicator congratulated her. Hull Daily Mail, 28 November 1924.

  • Sir Edward Elgar has protested against the statement of Mrs T M Bourne, the conductor of the Barrow Male Voice Choir, to the effect that she and her choir pronounced the first vowel in pageantry as in "page" (instead of "padge") because Sir Edward had asked them to do so ... It was at the Millom festival on Saturday when the Barrow choir pronounced "pageantry" as "page-antry" and during the course of his remarks, Mr Harvey Grace, the adjudicator, asked "Why did they do it?"It was then Mrs Bourne said they sang it thus at the request of Sir Edward Elgar. Mr Harvey Grace then said he could only differ from Sir Edward on that point. In a wire to Mr Harvey Grace, Sir Edward Elgar has asked him to correct, whenever possible, "this absurd statement". Mrs Bourne is suffering from a chill, but conveyed a message to one of our reporters, who called at the house on Tuesday, to the effect that Sir Edward Elgar's advice on the pronunciation of the word "pageantry" was given to them at the Morecambe Festival some years ago. Barrow News, 6 Dec 1924.

  • 1925 Festival: "The quicker the music you have to play or sing, the slower you should start to rehearse it (Dr Henry Coward of Sheffield, speaking at second day of the Millom Music Festival (Hull Daily Mail, 28 November 1925).

  • 1926 Festival: "'I have been attacked by one of the competitors because the judging did not go his way' said Mr Julius Harrison, the conductor, who adjudicated at Millom, Cumberland Music Festival on Saturday. 'You are all sporting enough to know that I am here to give my judgment without fear of favour' ... The competitor referred to was Mr A P Roberts of Whitehaven, who was awarded second prize for baritone solo and third prize for bass solo. Roberts, it was observed, was seen to be vigorously tearing up what appeared to be his certificate of merit as he passed in front of the judge's box." Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 25 December 1926 ... Mr Harrison said he felt the [same] singer was making gestures with his hand without knowing it ... 'There are good voices in the South', said Mr Harrison, 'but I don't think they are so good as in Lancashire and Yorkshire'"  Nottingham Evening Post, 20 December 1926.

  • 1930 Festival: Millom's three days' Musical Festival (the 10th of the series) opened on Thursday and will continue until Saturday night, when the destination of the silver Rose Bowl (for male voice choirs) and the 50-guineas Challenge Shield" (for mixed voice choirs) will be decided.  The entries total over 200, more than 80 of these being from Barrow.  It is officially stated that the number of  competitors will be about 500.  Millom and Haverigg choirs have won many prizes at various festivals (at Barrow, Dalton, Morecambe, Blackpool, Workington, etc.) in past years and individual competitors have been very successful also … The Millom Festival has been extremely fortunate in the choice of adjudicators. Some of the best in the kingdom have given excellent advice to the many  soloists, choristers, etc., who have appeared before them, and the audiences too have appreciated and greatly enjoyed the adjudication comments … The principal adjudicator selected for this year's festival was Dr A C Tyson of Leeds.  Barrow News, 22 Nov 1930.

  • 1930 Festival: "A choir of men led by a woman conductor, Mrs T M Bourne of Barrow, won the championship silver rose bowl at the Millom (Cumberland) Music Festival on Saturday." (Hull Daily Mail, 1 December 1930).

  • Barrow Working Men's Choir achieved top three places at least in 1933, 1946 and 1957.

  • The Millom festival was superseded in 1976 by the South Cumbria Music Festival held at Ulverston. 

Morecambe Musical Festival: founded 1891 and still active.

  • 1910 Festival: The concluding day of the Morecambe Musical Festival took place on Saturday at the Winter Gardens.  Owing to the death of King Edward the gathering had been postponed, but the majority of the choirs entering for competition in the important open classes were present, the most important exceptions  ... the Whitehaven Select Choir ... of course being prevented from attending through the recent pit disaster which has thrown Whitehaven into mourning.  The adjudicators were Professor Granville Bantock, Professor Frederick Corder, and Mr T Tertius Noble (York Minster) ... The principal competition of the day was of course that for the challenge shield ... again retained by the Lancaster choir ... Mr Tertius Noble commented upon the "frightful difficulty" of the Cornelius piece and said that the judges had been perfectly astonished at the way it had been rendered ... The Barrow Choir [Barrow Madrigal Society], conducted with ability by Mrs Bourne, came second with 371 marks. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 20th Jun 1910:

  • Barrow Male Voice Choir (generally competing as Barrow Working Men's Club and Institute Choir) participated on several occasions including 1933, 1935, 1938, 1948-50, 1956, 1960 and won 2nd place in the 58th festival held in 1962.

Preston Festival of Music & Drama: Barrow Working Men's Choir achieved a 1st place certificate in 1950 and on at least one other occasion.


South Cumbria Music Festival: held since 1976 in Coronation Hall, Ulverston after the annual festival had moved from Millom.


Southport Music Festival: founded 1906.  "The fourth annual vocal and instrumental festival at Southport opens in the Winter Gardens on Thursday" (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 22 May 1909). Barrow Working Men's Club Choir participated at least in 1950 and 1951.


Stockton-on-Tees Annual Music Festival: Barrow Working Men's Club Choir achieved 1st place in 1952 and 3rd place in 1953.


Ulverston Eisteddfod

The Dalton Eisteddfod (qv) was apparently "always outshining the Ulverston one, which started with great difficulty in 1899" [James E Walton, A History of Dalton-in-Furness, pp.98-99] .


Westmorland Music Festival (Kendal Music Festival): founded by Miss Mary Wakefield in 1885. Cartmel Choral Society has been amongst the regular entrants (inter alia 1930s)


Workington Musical Festival: "It is generally acknowledged that [the Workington] Eisteddfod, held on New Year’s Day 1872, was the first music and drama festival held in Britain – and also the first eisteddfod held outside Wales ... William Ivander Griffiths organised that first eisteddfod. It was held in the schoolroom of Derwent Tinplate Works, in Barepot. It was probably a Welsh language only festival as many of the Welsh who came to Workington with Ivander were unable to speak English ... In 1934 the musical festival organisers must have been delighted to secure the services of Sir Granville Bantock. He was one of the musical heavyweights of his day, an acknowledged authority, and when he spoke, people listened and, hopefully, learned." (Carlisle News & Star, 1 April 2010).

  • A Musical Festival was held at Workington, in Cumberland, on the 1st and 2nd ult. The proceedings included two whole day's musical competitions and the performance of two oratorios - 'Judas" and 'The Messiah'. The Festival, now grown to such large dimensions, was initiated by Mr W Griffiths in 1872, and, so far as the institution includes general music competitions, is probablyh the oldest of its kind in the country ... The whole proceedings were brimful of life and exhilarating activity. The Seaton Male Voice Choir deserves a special commendation. It is composed of colliers and is led by a fellow workman. Their singing of 'The Fisherman' (Price) was admirable. The Carlisle Choir also sang remarkably well. The children from Northside greatly distinguished themselves by a neat performance of the trio arrangement of 'Blow, blow thou wintry wind' (Stevens), the Seaton children coming only slightly behind There were over thrity competitors in the sold singing section. The standard was not very high, but there were many evidences that this branch of study had been carefully cultivated. In this  connection it is  right to acknowledge the great assistance rendered by Mr J Goddard, a local professor, who throughtout the Festival was always at hand to play accompaniments. The instrumental section did not bring forward any notable talent, but afforded assurance that there were some good teachers at work in the district. The oratorio was given in the Jubilee Hall on the evening of the 2nd ult., before a large  audience, including a full representation of the local gentry. Musical Times, 1 February 1897.

  • "The programme for the next Cumberland Musical Festival and Annual 'Ivander' Eisteddfod Competition, which has been established a quarter of a century ... in the Queen's Jubilee Hall, Workington" (Carlisle Patriot, 5 November 1897). 

  • Also held at Workington, 1901 (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 3 January 1901), being synonymous with the Workington Eisteddfod  (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 5 January 1901).

  • Report 1914 in (Newcastle Journal, 5 January 1914.

  • Barrow Working Men's Choir (or Barrow Male Voice Choir) participated at Workington on several occasions, including 1931-35, 1939 and 1945.

  • Some minute books 1925-1965 are held at Cumbria Archives & Local Studies Centre, Whitehaven, although the early entries tend to be brief and they relate more to policy than to the performances of individual choirs. 

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"Alas for those who never sing
But die with all their music in them."