NOTTINGHAM CO-OPERATIVE FOLK WORKSOP

NEWSLETTER No. 14

 

Chairman: Dr. William A.S. Sarjeant, "Myrtle Villa", 38, Highfield Road, Dunkirk, NOTTINGHAM. (Tel. Nottm, 75538)

Treasurer & Deputy Chairman: John Chambers, 7, Lindfield Road, Broxtowe, NOTTINGHAM.

Bookings secretary: Neil Oakden, 16 Graylands Road, Bilborough

Recorder: Ruth Howard, 87 Bennett Road, Mapperley Plains

Comperes: Don Coging and Ruth Howard.

Asst. Treasurer: Pam Scott.

No specific assignment: Pete Arnold, Taz Sirel, Pete Turner.

 

Committee News:
The passage of the year has brought about a steady erosion of the original Committee. We have been especially sorry to receive the resignation of Pete Turner, as a result of family illnesses and other domestic difficulties following the birth of his son (eventually christened Jason, not Nathan, as originally planned and stated in the last "Newsletter"). Pete played a major part in the revival of the "Workshop", after its collapse in 1968: since March, he has acted as Treasurer and as principal debt-collector on the Sunday night door. We are hoping he will continue to come along to the Workshop: he remains on the Committee. His resignation comes at a financially healthy time: the increased admission charges and record raffles have helped us greatly and we are now able to again contemplate more ambitious guest bookings. His Successor is John Chambers, who combines this job with his Deputy Chairmanship.

 

It has been decided to postpone the inauguration of Workshop sessions until after the Annual General Meeting in early January, 1970: the need for advance booking of rooms, and waning evidence of interest from members after the long delays, makes starting such sessions difficult until we can be confident of your support.

 

The history of the Nottingham Folk Workshop.

 

Two earlier historical accounts of the history and growth of the Workshop have been given, respectively in "Newsletter" No, 1 (published in October, 1966) and No 6 (January, 1969). However, investigation has elicited that there are errors (some major, some minor) in both these accounts. As a result of being asked to write an article on the Workshop for the E.F.D.S.S. magazine "Club Folk", I have done some further delving into correspondence and surviving records and collected data from many early stalwarts. As a result, a fuller (and, it is hoped, more definitive) account is given herein: it is based on talks with Joy Foxley, Ruth Howard, Bob Pegg and Pete Turner and on letters from Pete and from Spike Woods.

 

Although it would be wrong to attribute the folk revival to any single cause, there can surely be little doubt that the skiffle craze of the mid-I950's provided the main stimulus. This driving and infectious music, derived from American folk blues but with characteristics of its own and a great appeal to an unsophisticated audience, suddenly reminded people that they themselves could make music. Guitars, banjos and mandolins were purchased; tea-chest basses were assembled; washboards from the kitchen and thimbles from the workbox were found to make a satisfactory percussion combination. Participation brought growing interest and a deeper delving into sources; there was a movement outward into jazz and blues, on the one hand, and American country music and English folk song on the other.

 

My own interests followed this pattern: from being a second-line guitarist in a skiff le group called the Boll Weevils, I became guitarist in an amateur jazz band which lacked any other rhythm section and, eventually and much later, started to play harmonica and to try my hand at the unaccompanied singing of English, Scottish and Irish songs. Pete Turner recalls being attracted to music by a skiff 1e group -,called the Tumbleweeds, which played at the El Toreador coffee bar on Burton Street,: Dave Brailsford played fiddle; Alf Connolly (who used the stage name Lee Connors) guitar: and Ralph Meakin, the third member, he thinks had a string bass. It was Alf who taught Pete his guitar technique; but no-one 'has yet persuaded him to sing!

 

Thus was a climate created in which folk music could prosper: and by the late 1950's, skiffle was dying and the taste of its adherents was changing, so-that they were moving into other fields of musical endeavor. There was. a growing enthusiasm for traditional jazz, which was shortly to produce its own, distinctively British sound. Acceptance of folk music as an interesting and worthwhile idiom was made difficult for many people by an early introduction to the milk-and-water diet of-the emasculated contents of school songbooks; but a few singers were beginning to discover the rougher and richer original fare and to develop a taste for it. Thus the Workshop started life, some time during the autumn or early winter of 1959. It was initiated and run for the first 4-5 months by Alan McLeod: and the earliest meetings were held in Nottingham Co-operative Society's Educational Centre on Heathcoat Street. After a while Alan was running into difficulties with organisation and financing (room costs). A meeting to discuss its continuance was organised by Spike Woods during the early months of 1960 and the running of the club was taken over by a group, organised semi-formally, with Alan as Chairman, Spike as Secretary and Pete Turner, who took over the collection of admission fees, the nearest equivalent to a Treasurer. Singers at this time included Sunny Ford (American style), Gil Harper (not then the exclusively "trad." singer he has since become), Big Jim Robson (a singer of Scottish ballads), Alan and Spike. This group ran the Workshop till July, 1960.

 

There were other early clubs in Nottingham during the "revival" period. Tony Jackson began a club at about this time: and a club (perhaps the same one) was running at the Imperial Hotel, St. James Street, with Spike Woods. and others singing. Also in 1960, Joy and Eric Foxley commenced running an informal club at their flat in Premier Road, off Gregory Boulevard: they had, both been enthusiastic folk dancers (Eric still plays accordion for a Morris team) before their interest in singing developed. Coffee was provided and all styles of singing were encouraged. Spike and his friend "Conny" (Harry Constantine), both now beginning to write their own songs; John Davies; Terry McGhee (who sang British, ballads unaccompanied); Bob Blair; and, later, Anne Briggs were regulars. When The Foxleys removed to Julian Road, West Bridgford, sessions were continued; but eventually they faded off, as the Foxleys became increasingly involved with student activities at the University. (Eric is now Director of the Cripps Computing Centre.)

 

The Workshop entered its second session with a new Committee. Alan McLeod had left Nottingham during August, leaving the room hiring charges at Heathcoat Street unpaid: this was not realised for a few months, since a move to new quarters (an upstairs room at the News House, St. James Street) had been decided on. The new committee included Sunny Ford as Chairman, Lily Hackland (later to become Mrs. Ford) as secretary, Les Coleman as Treasurer and Pete Turner on the door. Spike continued on the Committee for a while; Gren Meakin was added, and later Rod Kreizman and John Groom. Since finances were still straitened, each Committee member contributed £1-10s to the funds. There were an increasing number of singers regularly appearing; Herbert Nagel, Richard Jones, Bob Pegg, Gabriel ("Gay") LaVelle, and Quentin Hood are noteworthy. Al O'Donnell initially sang Country-and-Western numbers (Hank Williams' songs, etc.) and his "signature tune" at this time was "On the wings of a Snow White Dove": it was only later that he came to develop an interest in the songs of his native Ireland. Pete Turner's younger brother, Dave, got his early guitar lessons from Sunny Ford and sang regularly with him, until one evening Sunny sat down and left him to complete a song: after which he sang solo with increasing confidence and began developing his individual guitar style and repertoire. Hope Howard, from Jamaica, was at this time singing as a duo with John Webster: they were first-rate entertainers, singing American and West Indian songs with equal gusto. Roger Norman was a disciple of Spike, but subsequently developed his awn guitar and singing style. Rod Kreizman was an Eastern European mandolin player of considerable talent. John Groom, a Communist, was keen to have the arrangements for the club formalised: as finances were steadily improving and a regular audience of 40 to 50 were turning up each week, it was felt appropriate that a constitution should be drawn up at this point. (The document drafted at this time has only been amended to a minor extent in subsequent years: most of the original provisions remain in force).

 

Guest artists began to be booked. The first was Derek Sarjeant, from Surbiton Folk Club, Surrey: next came Shirley Hart and Colin Wilkie; then Ray and Archie Fisher: then John Davies. Exchange visits were arranged with clubs in Dewsbury, Leicester and elsewhere, bringing to Nottingham artists like Dave Brailsford, Roger Knowles, the Heritage Singers, Roy Bailey, Russ Merryfield and Robin and Barry Dransfield.

 

Workshop sessions were begun on Wednesday evenings, at the Bohemian Coffee Bar above the Three Tuns Inn, Fletcher Gate: Spike, Sunny, Harry Constantine, Al O'Donnell, Hope Howard and John Webster were regular participants, but their main aim was to give new singers opportunity to sing and to try out material without the pressure of an audience. This was the heyday of the coffee bars: Spike also recalls singing at the Siesta, the Brief Encounter and the El Toreador (Burton Street), partnering Harry Constantine in the days before the latter moved to London. Down in The Meadows, the Carousel Club had a folk night, with Tony Jackson, Keith Chetwyn (then mostly singing blues: later to become a Flamenco - and jazz-style guitarist) and with Dave Crosbie booming out Negro work songs and stamping the floor till it echoed.

 

A Christmas party was held back at Heathcoat Street on December 18th, 1960. Refreshments were provided and a square dance was held, with Jim Lees as. Caller: dancing was interspersed with singing by club artists and a good time was had by all. By this stage, relationships with the manager of the News House and his wife had become rather strained, so negociations were opened for a return to the old room for Sunday night sessions also. The deficit was discovered and paid off: and the Workshop settled at Heathcoat Street for what was to develop into a stay of eight years. The News House was not long foresaken by folk singers, however, for Quentin Hood ran his club (the Folk Scene) there on Fridays for a number of years and, when the scene packed up, Nottingham Traditional Music Club moved in and are still flourishing there.

 

By the summer of 1961, the Workshop was firmly established and beginning to prosper, through steadily rising interest in folk music at national, as well as local, level. One manifestation of this was the establishment of Centre 42, a sort of festival of the folk arts which moved round the country, staying for a week in each major town. Prime movers in its organisation were Bruce Dunnett, Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger: the "resident panel" of folk singers included A.L. Lloyd, Ray and Archie Fisher, Frances McPeake, Bob Davenport and Louis Killen. The Nottingham week was in September 1961: as local organiser, Spike assembled a list of artists as potential participants which included Joy and Eric Foxley; Roger Norman; Big Jim Robson; Sunny and Dave Ford; Dave Turner; Hope Howard and John Webster; John Davies (later to emigrate to Canada), Trevor Hull (a Morris dancer and singer of shanties); Max Green ( a banjo player); Anne Briggs (who had only recently begun singing); Tony Rippon; Lloyd Watkins ("Wocko"), a unique and unclassifiable entertainer who was seminal in the formation of the Higglers International; Terry McGhee; Rebecca O'Hara (nee Ore), who sang with Spike; John Schwarzenbach from Derby; Ken Sansom and Ian McEwan, who sang British ballads; and Gil Harper. On the first (Tuesday) night, a coachload of singers went to Wellingborough: but delays on route turned this into a fiasco. Ruth Howard recalls trudging round Nottingham in the rain to organise a second coachload for the Wednesday evening, but she does not recall its destination. On the Thursday and Friday nights, singers invaded local pubs in groups of four (three locals, one professional). Louis Killen took a group to the Trip to Jerusalem, but was thrown out: but there was a swinging evening with Francy McPeake at the Salutation, which was to convert Al O'Donnell to singing Irish songs. A local singer was to be selected to perform along with the national artists, at the concert: this understandably aroused much excitement. When Anne Briggs was chosen, there was a great furore; (however, few will quarrel with the choice in retrospect, for she has gone on to become perhaps Britain's finest female traditional folk singer). She left for London with Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger after the week was over.

 

John Groom was Chairman of Nottingham Folk Workshop during the session from autumn 1961 to summer 1962, but I have been unable to determine who else was on the Committee. Quarrels over the styles or singing being favoured led to a breakaway movement by singers especially interested in American music: a consequence was the formation by Sunny, Pete Turner, Geoff Bowers, Jack Fletcher and Dave (of the present Rambling Boys) at a country-and-western club. This met at the Bulwell Liberal Club on Thursday nights: Johnny Vera acted as square-dance caller. It is now run by Don Woods, under the name "Country Sounds", and meets at, the Bodega in Pelham Street.

 

Another singing-and-dancing Christmas party was held by the workshop at Christmas, 1961. After this its doings are obscure; neither records nor correspondence survive for 1962 or early 1963 and my informants are unhelpful. (Spike left for Wales early in 1962; Ruth Howard also left Nottingham; and Pete rarely visited the club). However, it certainly prospered during this time. Singers included Al O'Donnell, Gay Lavelle, Dave Crosbie, and Bob Pegg (who, with his wife Carole, has since become a first class singer, recording for Transatlantic; they edited until recently, the folk magazine "Abe" and Bob is now Editor for E.F.D.S.S. of "Club Folk", after completing research on Yorkshire folk music at Leeds University).

 

From the Annual General Meeting in the summer of 1963, there are both Minutes and correspondence to bolster the recollections of members and it is possible to obtain a fuller picture of developments. Al O'Donnell was elected Chairman; Pete Turner became Secretary; Carole Smithurst, Treasurer; Gay Lavelle was responsible for bookings; Jackie Fisher and Gill Turner were responsible for catering (coffee and sandwiches were regularly provided); Roy Bacon was responsible for "premises"; Allan Worsey took the door money; and Gordon Clay seems to have been without a specific assignment. It was at this time that the Workshop elected its first Honorary Member - no less a figure than Woody Guthrie, to whose Children's Fund we had sent contributions and who accepted the honour gracefully from his New York hospital bed. Three others were subsequently elected; Jim Lees, Pete Turner and Sunny Ford, all stalwarts of the Workshop. Membership at this time cost 2/6d: admission fees were 3/- for non-members, 2/- for members. Also by this time, the old informal singing arrangements had been replaced by a resident panel, though floor singers were permitted on non-guest nights.. The 1963/64 panel included five singers (Al Atkinson, Al O'Donnell, Dave Turner Gay Lavelle and Quentin Hood), two of whom were on the Committee. This was to recurrently prove a sore point, since many members have always felt it inappropriate that artists should be permitted to decide the fees for themselves. Pete Turner proposed, on 30th October, that resident artists should be debarred from Committee service: the motion was considered on 15th November and, on its being defeated, Pete resigned. Gay Lavelle served as Acting Secretary till 13th January 1964, when Roy Bacon was appointed Secretary: Roger Norman and Ross List were co-opted to the Committee on 20th November, and a group of three (Judith Taylor, Bridle Finn and Geraldine Cooper) took over the catering, after an unsatisfactory period, in January 1964. Al Atkinson, who had resigned his residency, was replaced by Roger Norman, the latter being requested to "refrain from singing too many songs which had nothing to do with folk music"!

 

Indeed, it was by this time becoming harder to decide what was, and what was not, folk music. The witty political songs of Leon Rosselson and others were gaining wide currency (the Workshop rules permit political and religious songs, though it is decreed that the introductions to these “should not develop into speeches or sermons") and there was a rising tide of "ban-the-bomb" songs, which was to swamp folk clubs for a while before receding. Political and moral consciousness was very much a characteristic of folk-singers at this time - and still is, though ardour has been damped by a growing disillusion with Harold Wilson's regime; many sings and concerts were held for charitable purposes in Nottingham and many Nottingham singers participated in the Aldermaston marches of this period.

 

Roy Bacon does not seem to have been a successful Secretary. His wild spelling makes the minutes hard reading at times: I realised quickly that "B. Loyd" must be A.L. (Bert) Lloyd, but it took longer to realise that "S. Torny" must be Cyril Tawney! In the brief minutes of a Committee meeting on April 21st, it is briefly noted that R Bacon "resigned after a lively discussion": David Miles was co-opted and, on his election on 4th May, was to prove the most meticulous and hard-working of the Workshop's Secretaries - a fitting appointment for a boom year,- which ended in June with a balance to the club's account of well over £200, after the purchasing of a typewriter and a tape-recorder!

 

The Annual General Meeting for 1964 was held on 7th June, Alan Worsey became Chairman; Bridie Finn was Vice-Chairman and Treasurer; David Miles continued as Secretary: Bob Radford became Assistant Treasurer and Cassandra Stone, Cyril Wright and Ross List completed the roster. The minutes note that Gil and Philippa (Pip) Harper, by now both fine traditional singers, and Quentin Hood were appointed to immediate residencies; five others were appointed in the autumn, including Fred Bassler (an American singer and Flamenco guitarist, still in Nottingham, on the staff of the College of Art, but no longer singing), Al Atkinson and Roger Norman. Other singers at this period included Dave Brindley and Judith ("Jud") Tipping (Dave's strong guitar style supported Jud's and his own singing: he nowadays plays with David Miles), Melvin Romane (singing mostly American songs; now in the Club circuit in partnership with Jud); Sarah Rhys; and Roger Watson (then just beginning, but later to become a song writer and performer of national renown).

 

Although the finances were in such good state, the club was in a turbulent mood at this time, the relations of resident, guest and floor singers especially causing hard feelings. Alan Worsey gave up the Chairmanship on August 13th: his successor was Jim Barrie, a benign Scot who sang rarely (usually "Rattling, roaring Willie"!) and now lives in Winnipeg, Canada. Ross List resigned, and was replaced by Roger Norman, in a meeting on October 14th, which was the prelude to a stormy meeting on the 22nd, when a petition from the resident singers and others, organised and presented by Sunny Ford, was considered. This criticised the lack of floor singers and guests, the choice of residents and the type of singing: if produced the decision to form a new panel of residents and to regularise the organisation of meetings, but Sunny remained intransigent and was not again to sing at the club till this year.

 

After this, things became more tranquil once more. The new panel comprised Al Atkinson: Dave Brindley and Jud; Roger Norman (shortly to be replaced by Melvyn Romane); Trevor Hull; and Gil and Pip-Harper. Roy Harris served as "unofficial resident". A concert featuring Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger, was held and a long list of guests booked.. At the year end the bank balance stood at £160 and prospects looked healthy.

 

The Committee elected on 25th July 1965 was again headed by Jim Barrie, with a young Traditional-style singer (and, at that time, my flat-mate), Ian Russell, as Secretary. (Ian was at this time running a club called the Melting Pot, meeting initially in a comfortably lounge at the Y.M.C.A. and later fading out under the disillusion of more Spartan accommodation at the Rose of England, Mansfield Road.) Bob Radford combined the duties of Vice-Chairman and Treasurer: Lloyd Watkins was initially Programme Secretary (replaced in November by Tony Murray); Shirley Wass (herself a singer) took over catering; Cyril Bright (whose bespectacled face has for so long beamed on the Nottingham folk scene) handled advertising; and John McKintosh became Assistant Treasurer, There were nine resident singers (Gil and Pip Harper, Dave Turner, Quentin Hood, Sarah Rhys, Melvyn Romane, Ian Russell and Trevor Hull) but the year was to be most memorable for its exciting list of guests, with leading singers from many parts of the world - (Phil Ochs, -Tom Paxton and Hedy West), Irish (Joe Heaney, Johnny Moynihan and Felix Doran), Scottish (The Stewarts of Blair), South African (Jeremy Taylor). and English (Fred Jordan, Anne Briggs, Louis Killen, Bob Davenport, Isla Cameron and Shirley Collins). The Workshop staged a Christmas folk play, and put on an exhibit in town during 'National Folk Week (April 1966):  it produced its first two, ephemeral, publications - a "Broadsheet" in November 1965 and a "Folk Workshop News” in May 1966. Much more important, affiliation with Nottingham Co-operative Society was sought - appropriately enough, after the long residence at Heathcoat Street - and, at an extraordinary general meeting on May 15th 1966, the club became the Nottingham Co-operative Folk Workshop.

 

However, by this stage the folk boom was over and an ebb in audiences had set in. The bank balance nosedived: and by the Annual General Meeting on 2Sth July, less than £10 remained in hand. I was elected Chairman for this crisis year, with Dave Brindley as Secretary and Jim Barrie as Treasurer. Lucille Lawrence took over catering: John Robson came onto the Committee as N.C.S. representative; John McKintosh stayed on as Assistant Treasurer: and Chris Eaton took charge of publicity. It was decided to appoint two comperes - Sean Gough and Dave Ward (who has subsequently achieved great success as a Traditional singer in London). Six permanent residents were appointed (Pip Harper, Judith Tippin, Keith Chetwyn, Melvyn Romane and Dave Turner). In addition, it was decided to have temporary residents for four-week periods;  this proved a great success, appointees including Rowena White, Pete and John Bamber, The Journeymen, Hope Howard and Paul Goulding. In other terms, however, this was to prove a year of many personnel changes. Mike Scard was appointed Assistant Secretary on October 6th and took over as Secretary at the, end of December. Chris Eaton did not prove a success as Publicity Officer, partly because of friction with Dave Brindley: Pete Bamber succeeded him in January. The comperes both soon resigned; Pete Bamber, Colin Cater, Dave Brindley and Lloyd Watkins all did their stint, but it was not until Jim Barrie was appointed in the spring that stability was attained. In an attempt to inject life into a still-flagging club, an entirely new panel of residents was appointed in April - John and Pete Bamber (two brothers from Smalley), Paul Goulding (a young Traditional singer of great promise), Dave Brindley, Keith Chetwyn, Neil Oakden (still with us!), Dave Turner and Eugene Mudge.

 

A concert, sponsored by N.C.S., was held on October 15th in aid of Bechuanaland: Davy Graham, the big-name guest, failed to put in an appearance, but strong support from local singers - The Journeymen (David Miles, Dick Brading and Keith Jones), Gay Lavelle and Al Atkinson - and Lyn and Candy Geddes saved the occasion. Despite the shaky finances, this was quite a good year for guests - the Cropper Boys, Nigel Denver, The Munstermen, Tom Gilfellan, The Watersons, The Valley Folk and Johnny Handle. Two ceilidhs were held, in December and in April, with Trevor Hull and Pete Bamber as comperes and a specially-formed ceilidh band. Publication of the "Newsletters" was begun. The year was not a bad one, despite a disastrous slump in post-Easter attendance; but, in my retiring report as Chairman, I had to conclude that the club had merely marked time during the year. The bank balance had started small: it ended at zero, but at least there were no debts. Still, a major change of policy was clearly needed to bring an upswing in our fortunes.

 

The new Committee appointed at the A.G.M. in July 1967, was headed by Trevor Hull as Chairman, with John McKintosh becoming Treasurer, Pete Bamber continuing in charge of publicity, Geraldine Davis taking charge of the "Newsletter" and John Robson, who had proved a helpful colleague, remaining as N.C.S. representative. It was decided, however, that greater power should be placed in the hands of the Secretary than hitherto. Hope Howard assumed this responsible post; and, for a while, all went very well. Residents during the year included the Secretary, the Chairman and Roger Norman, plus number of new singers Mick Atkin, Lisa Anne Bucknell, Pete Dylan, Ivan North and John Tawney, Diane Coates, and Terry Williams. Some excellent guest singers visited the club, among them the McPeakes, Tom Paley, Nigel Denver, Pete Stanley and Brian Goldby, Shirley Collins, and Jacqueline McDonald and Bridie O'Donell. Unfortunately, there were increasing disagreements between the Secretary, the Committee and local singers. No "Newsletter" appeared during the year, nor were the "Minutes" ever written up, so that it is not easy to trace developments or to apportion blame or praise. Whatever the causes, by Easter 1968 the Committee had fragmented, the club was in debt and the Secretary had resigned.

 

John McKintosh and a rump Committee contrived, during the ensuing months, to rally the support of singers, whose basic affection for the Workshop has so often saved the day. The audience began to return, and by July, finances were on an even keel- barely. The A.G.M. was poorly attended, however: a minimal Executive Committee was elected, with Ray Cockerill (former organiser of the Folk Spot, Dulwell) an avowedly sleeping Chairman and the running of the club placed in the joint hands of Roger Norman (Secretary) and Steve Whiteley (Treasurer). All began well after the summer recess; the panel of residents, headed by Roger and Steve, included Marette and Taz Sirel (two fine singers of Estonian descent; Marette occasionally sings Estonian: folk songs), Alan Gormley, and a group consisting of Don Caging, Stan Gee and Pete Turner. Early attendances were excellent and encouraging: and guests started to be booked -- the Two Daves (Brindley and Miles, now singing together), Quentin Hood, "Twelve-String" Morgan, Thaddeus Kaye and Lill Griffin, and the New Modern Idiot Grunt Band from Coventry.

 

However, crisis soon supervened. By mid-November, things were going very wrong: and, at the end of that month, the Secretary resigned. The Treasurer opened the club for one further week, then gave up. The Executive Committee had not met since July and the Chairman was not initially even aware of the club's closure.

 

I was one of several members distressed to learn of its folding: and, under prodding from Hick Logan and my wife Peggy, determined to take action. I contacted Ray Cockerill: and he, I and Margaret and Howard Price got together at the Lord Robert Hotel on Sunday, 8th December for a discussion. We decided to organise a "crisis" meeting for the following Sunday, to see whether the club could be saved. The word was spread around and a newspaper advert placed: and no less than 40 interested persons attended - a tribute to the very real regard in which the Workshop is held. Ray Cockerill took the chair, gave an account of recent developments, then resigned formally, leaving the way clear for the election of a new Committee. In fact, it was initially decided to merely elect a working group with the task of organising an Extraordinary General Meeting in early January. It had eight embers; Mick Logan, Neil Oakden, Pete Turner, Alan Gormley, Eugene Nudge, Don Coging, Susan Gilmour and myself. A major task set for us was to choose new premises: but, in fact, it was David Miles who found us our present quarters - on the 22nd, we visited and viewed for the first time the upstairs room at the Central Tavern, Huntingdon Street, and decided to recommend these quarters.

 

Surviving debts had already been reduced by a whip-round at the meeting on December 15th: the generosity of contributions was another manifestation of regard for the Workshop.

 

The last meeting at Heathcoat Street was thus the E.G.M. on January 5th, 1969, with some 50 persons attending. The existing 8-member committee was appointed Acting Committee for an experimental spell of 3 months, a formal A­.G.M. to be held in April. I found myself once again Chairman, with Neil Oakden as Secretary and Alan Gormley as Treasurer. The rest of the story can be adequately gleaned from recent "Newsletters": since the Workshop is still running, presumably we can be considered to have succeeded!

 

Recent Programme. Four successive "come-all-ye’s" ended the October programme and began that for November: a good audience on the 19th, a poor one on the 26th, a good one again on the 2nd and a poor one on the 9th. (Indeed, a graph of recent attendances would resemble the temperature chart of a fever patient all ups and downs!). The singing, however, has been of consistently high quality. On the 16th, Dave Turner brought us a capacity audience and was an outstanding success, his guitar style as superb and his material amusing and unpredictable as ever.

 

Future Programme. 

Sunday 23rd November Gabriel ("Gay") Lavelle

Sunday 30th November Singers' night

Sunday  7th December Burley Road (folk group)

Sunday 14th December Bob and Carole Pegg

Sunday 21st December Christmas Party

 

Plenty to look forward to ! !

 

WILLIAM A.S. SARJEANT.