An elocution confusion solution?

I still love the drawing of the dog. So cursory. So beautiful.

Here’s a thing – it’s rare I think, that I can answer a question asked of the blog so comprehensively, but today an enquiry dropped into the mailbox from reader Glen Wootton, who posed the following question:


Hope you can help! In the late 1950’s early 1960’s I used to attend the Co-op Drama group in Walsall and every year our teacher- whose name I can’t for the life of me remember- used to enter us in this festival, where we would recite poetry singly and in teams. My family think I’m pulling their legs and fell off the chair laughing! The one year we entered our chorale team and we won. I remember carting home this enormous great wooden shield on the no 38 bus out of Walsall back home to the Pleck.

I don’t think I’m having delusions yet, so please – have you any memory of the festival being in this format? I can’t remember where they used to be held, but it was in Brownhills.

Kind regards
Glen Wootton

Well Glen, I don’t think you’re delusional. I think you remember attending Brownhills Music Festival, which I’ve noted here on the blog in a previous article, posted in August 2012. I’d been donated scans of the 1950 festival program, and I posted the whole thing on the blog (I include the whole article below).

The festival wasn’t just about music, it had ‘Elocution’ elements, and the program notes on page 2:

Adjudicator : Elsle A. Davies, L.R.A.M. (Ch.M.A.T.S.D.)

Class 1. Elocution. Under 12 years
2. Elocution. Under I5 years
3. Duologue. Open.
4. Choral Speaking

Choral speaking? That’s a terrific sounding thing. Has that died out as a practice? Are there any examples online? My interest is piqued…

Note also on page 9:

Class 4. Choral Speaking. (teams of 6 Voices). 12.30pm to 1pm.

Adjudicator : ELSIE A. DAVIES, L.R.A.M. (Ch.M.A.T.S.D.)

First Prize, Walsall Co-op. Education Committee Shield and Certificate.

Second and Third Certificates. Test : ‘The 23rd Psalm.’

(1180 marks attained).

  1. Brownhills Wesley                         Brownhills
  2. ‘Hcatherleigh’                                 Streetly
  3. Co-op. Drama Class No. I            Walsall
  4. Co-op. Drama Class No. 2           Walsall

So the Co-op Drama Group were there in 1950 – I think that’s probably the answer. What  was Heatherleigh? The name sounds awfully familiar. Anyone know?

When did Brownhills Music Festival cease to happen? Why?

I suspect the young David Evans may have more to add to all this – this is one of his great specialities.

Please, if anyone has anything to add, feel free: comment here or mail me BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Never a dull moment!

I wrote in August, 2012:

A snapshot of a lost place. Click on the image to download the whole program in PDF format(about 2 megabytes, could take a while on a slow connection).

Now, here’s a thing. It is probably the most complete illustration of Brownhills in that peculiar, post Second World War twilight hangover period I’ve ever seen. Found by local historian Clive Roberts, it’s both a sad, and joyful thing. It’s the complete scan of a program for the Brownhills Sixth Annual Music Festival, held on Saturday, October 7th, 1950.

This is a large booklet, consisting of some 36 page scans, containing both program detail, listings, participants and most interesting to me, adverts for local businesses. This is the sad part – if you read the testimonials for butchers, for example, several refer obliquely to the then ongoing rationing. Note the Poxon & Sons copy says with some ennui:

We shall be pleased when once again we can give you unrestricted quality.

Bradshaw’s similarly note:

We endeavour to please you under present conditions

And even the trusty Co-Op tailors are circumspect:

Whilst we must admit there is an acute shortage in men’s & boys’ clothing, we realise that this shortage is no excuse to be any the less courteous to our friends.

Our endeavour is to find you just what you require, and with that thought in mind we have built up our stock as far as the prevailing restrictions will allow.

Call and have a look around – we would like to help you in your clothing problems.

This is a town under the same immense pressure economically as the rest of the country, and appearing to consequently let off steam in the art of music. Scholars of Brownhillian history – and indeed local street nomenclature – will notice many names here that are familiar; Patterson, Bradbury, Roberts. Seedhouse, Simmonds, Harrison (yes, that Harrison). George Fullelove, the great Brownhills chorister, was recorded as conductor of the Brownhills Male Voice Choir.

Please download a copy and read it – it’s like a glimpse into another world. I particularly love the instructions to visitors on how to find the venue:

To make things run smoothly for all concerned, will you please note that :-

The Schools arc situate in Great Charles Street and Church Road.

Competitors arriving by train proceed down the Bridge, turn left along the Lichfield Road, off which is Great Charles Street (sharp right).

Competitors arriving by bus or charabanc from Walsall or District proceed along Main Road to Railway Station entrance ; turn right along Lichfield Road.

I thank Clive immensely for sharing this wonderful find with us, and emailing me such wonderful scans. Just when you think you must have nailed every gem the Brownhills history cannon has to offer, up pops another…

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6 Responses to An elocution confusion solution?

  1. aerreg says:

    yes its me again aer reg the music festival yes this is another world i was brought up in you will note my dad was involved it was first held in the girls school in great charles st it began wit a small dedicated group of uncle georges choristers without great financial backing ime sure they never realized the high standards it would reach so many houres of dedication was put into to it bless them the sad thing i kar sing a note talk the leg off an iron pot yes thanks again for the memouries ha ha cant spell either i could not sing or play so i listend to the joys and hard work they all put in to make brownhills music festival the 5 star venue god bless

  2. joan harris says:

    Hi bob does anyone have any history about Brownhills motor sales when it was on the A5 in the 1960s my husband worked there and often speaks about Ralph Ferrie Bill Withers and Big Tony

  3. glen wootton says:

    Thanks for that Bob! The choral speaking was amazing and very dramatic! I’ll have to see if I can find any more out about it. Great Charles Street does sound familiar, and it was in a school of some sort. That was a quick trip down memory lane & one more memory to add to the memoirs!- Glen

  4. aerreg says:

    great charles street school was a senios girls school was a senior girls school miss hall the head mistress guite modern for its time school days were infants mixed to start then junior boys and girls seperate then senior girls gt charles st then senior boys at central by the brigde names to remeber miss lane miss alan mr thompson mroaks mr smith miss hall mr wright happy days black pumps and gymn slips and of course the school band triangle tamberene un drum and the dreded nit nurse and school dentist

  5. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    I understand that the Brownhills Music Festival ended in 1999, sadly. Such festivals require a great amount of work, preparing, organising etc , As age caught up with the long-serving organisers, it was, perhaps, inevitable that the festival ended.
    However, the high standard of the festival in its time, as witnessed by the very demanding set pieces, is a lasting testament to the dedication of the competitors and their tutors, and a tribute to George Fullelove.
    kind regards

  6. Julie Wilkes says:

    I was part of a choral speaking group of young teenage girls from Walsall who competed twice in the Brownhills Festival – that would have been 1967 or 68 I guess. We performed a poem about the Congo by Vachel Lindsay I which i think would be banned now 🤔We didn’t win! Our tutor was Paddy Foster who taught elocution classes at Walsall Central Hall. The festival was a very formal affair and very well attended, on a par with the Leamington festival in those days.
    Another world!

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