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Bernard Taylor and his Band - Sheffield City Hall

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Hi Norrie - I'm glad you had a good time at the 'City' I know I did in my youth, for the life of me though I don't remember an Organ on a swing around stage. On weekends that I attended when most of the orchestra left the stage at interval the few guys that remained used to really jazz it up.

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Greetings Fleetwood- Glad to hear from you in Vancouver. In my dancing days the last tram from Fitzalan Square only went as far as Sheffield Lane Top...you must have gone home by water taxi. Seriously though, I do have vivid memories of Barrie on the organ. As the band finished its 'interval approaching' medley, one heard the organ start up out of sight as Barrie struck up his signature tune and slowly circled in to view as his music got louder. I live just on the south edge of Sheffield now, not too far from the City Hall (by bus pass) and I intend to go down there and see if I can sniff out some facts re the revolving stage. I'm a pianist (and other instruments) and just for old times sake, I play Barries signature tune, which frustratingly, I cant name. All good wishes.

 

---------- Post added 30-01-2016 at 08:48 ----------

 

I frequented both the ballroom and the concert hall (known as the Oval hall) in the late forties and early fifties. Sometimes, if I was in a Halle Orchestra concert enjoying Sir John Barbirolli (who was known jokingly in his young army days as 'Bob O'Reilly' because of the awkwardness of his name), during the quiet interval on a Friday night, it was possible to hear the faint strains of Bernard Taylor's band drifting up from the ballroom down in the 'basement'. I wanted to be in two places at once.

 

---------- Post added 30-01-2016 at 10:00 ----------

 

Sorry to be boring, but I've set myself going now. If I can move sideways from the Bernard Taylor Band for a moment, I'd like to share a memory about the Halle Orchestra I mentioned last post and wonder if there are any others who might have been involved .

 

My Music/English master, Mr Glasbey, at OwlerLane Secondary (Intermediate) school, knew of my musical prowess and asked if I'd like to play with the Halle Orchestra. I took this as a joke, but he was serious, but not in the way I thought.

 

The Halle - under Sir John Barbirolli of course- were due to perform a programme of novelty music one Friday night. None of your deep and meaningful Mahler stuff etc, but lighter more lively music. In the programme was Beethoven's 10th Symphony (he only wrote nine you all say). Quite right, but in 1813, he penned a substantial piece of music to celebrate Wellington's victory in Vittoria (Spain ) over Joseph Bonaparte. It became a money spinner for Ludvig van B. becoming known as The Battle Symphony (lots of versions of it on You Tube, but none like I'm about to relate).

 

The orchestra was probably the biggest ever staged at the City Oval Hall. It was heavily augmented by lots of extra instruments and divided into two sections.One section represented the English army and the other half, the French. It was so big that it had three conductors. Barbirolli in overall charge, Pat Ryan, the Halle's lead clarinetist conducted the English side and I think (proof needed) the French were conducted by Reginald Jacques. I was in the English army, being one of 15 schoolboys versus 15 other scholars representing the French.

 

There were over 60 extra trumpeters (and cornet players) sitting on the seats either side of the City Hall lions, all instrumentalists from local brass bands, playing ear-wax removing fanfares. Each 'orchestra' had many extra percussion instruments plus an enormous vertical bass drum each to represent cannon fire and cymbals a-plenty.

 

We schoolboys were each equipped with an instrument called a ratchet, (during the war called a gas rattle and at post-war football matches, just a football rattle). When these were all 'rattled' in unison it represented musket fire, which is all scripted in Beethoven's score.

 

We were controlled in our 'rattling' by our respective conductors. The sound during the battle scenes was phenomenal. We fully expected the great oval central glass ceiling above us to come crashing down. Probably one of the most exciting things I've ever experienced - the music, not the glass ceiling.

 

In rehearsals during which Sir John (who always had a fag on) had to conduct from a 'leaning' stool due to a car accident, we had to pose for a battery of photographers to capture the occasion. I was very lucky to be standing next to the rostrum and 'sir' put his arm round my shoulders in a pose suggested by the press, and pretend to be discussing music. He asked me if I played any instruments and who was my favourite composer. I said off the top of my head, Elgar sir (using the long pronunciation of Ell-garr). He looked me in the face and said 'Elger, dear boy, it's pronounced Elger, I knew him you know.'

 

There's my boring claim to a few seconds of fame, but at least I know how to pronounce Elger. (Simon Vigar, the reporter on British Channel 5's news pronounces his name Viger).

 

After all that - which was 1949 I believe, I just wondered if any other former schoolboys remember the occasion and indeed if they took part. I still have an autographed photograph of Sir J.B.

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Hi Norrie - I recall going to an afternoon concert at the City Hall to hear Sir John with the Halle Orchestra, it was an Owler Lane Secondary School field trip to hear 'Peter and the Wolf', I really enjoyed it and can still remember the main theme. By the way 'fleetwood' is my Forum monicker not where I lived, as you mentioned something about 'water taxi'. I was born and bred in Grimesthorpe, incidentally Jazz is my musical preference.

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Hello again Fleetwood,

Sorry about the weak water taxi joke, it was aimed at your current place of residence.

I sent a substantial reply to your last forum message via their eMail system, but it didn't send, so I'll use this method.

 

Glad to hear mention of Owler Lane, I presume you went there. I was there 1944 to Christmas '49. in Shakespeare House; Walter Gregory the head.

Glad also to hear about Grimesthorpe. I'm a Shiregreen (Oaks Fold) born and bred (1934) lad but my brother and sister were born on the Tyler Street huts and christened at St Margarets church, Jenkin Road. The family moved to Clematis Road, Flower Estate but it was too small and they ended up in a new 3 bed council house in the Oaks Fold area. I had an Owler Lane best chum who was born and lived on Limpsfield Road - a very steep hill, I'm sure you must know it.

 

I used to cycle down and up Jenkin Road on my way to work at Firth Vickers Stainless Steels on Weedon Street.

 

Glad to hear of your preference for Jazz; me also, but deep down I'm a great fan of the'40's big band swing era. I have a decent collection of jazz instrumantals and vocals, including trad. It wasn't my actual trade but I played piano/double bass in an RAF camp dance band during my RAF service in Ceylon (mid fifties). We were well paid, including the first five drinks of the evening free. The band varied from trio to 9 piece according to personnel availability due to shifts etc. Towards the end of the evening as the Johnny Walker strode through the dancer's veins, we would let the hair down, ditch the band parts and 'just let it happen' between us, while the dancers 'jitterbugged' or gathered round the stage to clap to the rhythm and gyrate. We had a good rhythm section.

 

I'm also trained as a classical pianist and when the mood takes me I put my more serious CD's on; I have a 'catholic' musical taste. I love music, both making it and listening to it.

 

When I've posted enough messages, we could perhaps use another method of communication if you find it more convenient. I've OK'd the ability to receive eMails but i can't use private messaging until I've notched up 5 or more. I'm not fully au fait with this system yet. But having lived so close in the dear dead days beyond recall, I thought it might be interesting to share a few Memory Lanes, only if you fancied it of course.

Best regards,

Norrie (my band nickname)

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Hi Norrie - I'm just as happy posting the odd answer or observation on the Forum. I went to Owler Lane Secondary not Owler Lane Intermediate, I did my National Service from Dec '51 to Dec '53 going in at 18, I was in the Royal Signals as a radio operator the majority of time spent in Egypt. Incidentally there is a thread or two on the Forum covering 'National Service' which you might find interesting.

 

---------- Post added 01-02-2016 at 16:28 ----------

 

Hi Norrie - You being a music buff I forgot to mention there is a Jazz thread, in fact I think anything and everything you want to talk about is covered on the Forum and if it isn't you can post a new title.

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Hi there Fleetwood,

Thanks for your tips on interesting threads, I shall pursue them, I'm completely new to this website.

I suspected afterwards you might not have been Owler Lane Intermediate. In my work before retirement I had access to the Sheffield City Libraries Archives and was able to write up a history of my school going back to day one. Thanks to your suggestion, I think I'll start a thread, (when I've found out how.).

Meanwhile as we are on the subject here's a brief resume of the history of the whole Owler Lane complex.

 

Opened 1889 by Rev.J.Gilman

Senior mixed opened by Mrs A.W.Warren, November 1901

Infants opened by Counc. S.Osborn JP, 1911

Site 14,520 sq yards

Accommodation 600. Enlarged 1901 to 1200 and again in 1911 to 1650

1926 Adapted for use as Intermediate School. Present accommodation for 1260 scholars viz: 360 intermediate, 500 mixed, 400 juniors and infants.

A handicraft centre and combined cookery, laundry work and housewifery centre are also provided.Cost of site and building £31.186 -12-9d (I like the 12/9d).

 

During my time there (1945 -1949), we spoke of Owler Lane (East) and Owler Lane (West) , can't remember which was which without a compass. We also called the school next door Owler Lane Secondary Modern, perhaps you can help with this (the infant school was at the opposite end to yours). Just before I left after the School Certificate exam, my own school changed its name to Earl Marshall Technical School (Earl Marshall Road being the one above and behind the main buildings). The school uniform was also changed. Later one of the schools was transferred to Hinde House Lane.

 

Sorry we've strayed from Bernard Taylor, that's why I think I should begin a new thread, there must be others who might have memories and not spot this thread. I have extensive lists of teachers, their subjects and salaries going back to 1930. Sadly, I didn't record the teachers and subjects etc at your particular school.

 

Having taken the 'scholarship' - the pre- eleven plus name for the exam, I actually qualified for the Redcaps (Firth Park Grammar) but elected to go to Owler Lane Secondary (Intermediate) School as it was listed, simply because my brother Les went there. Sadly he died on the Burma Railway as a Jap POW in 1943. (there's a big age gap between us).

 

Sorry to have taken up Bernard T's space.

 

I'll have a tad more to mention re my own jazz music next post.

Cheers from a cold but sunny England (lot of frozen sleet lying about)

Norrie.

 

---------- Post added 08-02-2016 at 14:57 ----------

 

Hello Fleetwood,

Interested re your last comments on your National Service. I did the glorified version of three years (+two and half class 'E' reserve) in the RAF, 1952-55; one year in UK the rest in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). My station was RAF Negombo, a large RAF transport 'bus-stop' 'tween UK and Far East and a training unit for the newly formed Royal Ceylon Air Force. We had Sunderland flying boats at Trincomalee north of the island

We also had a detachment of the Royal Signals Regiment of about 20 men with us, known as 'Linemen'. A decent bunch with whom we got on very well.

 

I sailed out on the ill-fated troopship Empire Windrush late 1953 which blew up and eventually sank two return trips later, killing four crew. About 1500 British mixed militia were rescued from the sea off Algiers with no loss of life.

 

En route outwards, we stopped off at Port Fouad, in the Canal Zone and had to stay there for some time as the old girl had broken down and we had to wait for the marine equivalent of the AA to sort us out. We couldn't go anywhere in less then groups of four or accompanied by armed Red-Caps due to the kidnapping and ad hoc killing of British Military personnel.

 

There were Egyptian white overalled policeman aboard the ship keeping an eye on the local workers and those delivering victuals to the hold etc. Their police treated them atrociously, especially with the rifle butt, a cruel way of showing off.

 

Walking round the local towns we were constantly pestered by the 'gully gully' men etc trying to sell us things or pick our pockets.; one threatened to cut my throat if I didn't buy the enormous 'diamond' ring he had for sale. The MP's came in handy that day.

 

Back in civvy street just after my service, I was on a SUT (Sheffield United Tours) trip to Morecambe and the Lakes. A news vendor was calling out about a military reservists recall due to 'the Suez crisis'. The newspaper told me that my reserve class had to report to their appropriate unit for further instructions. In the event we were told we wouldn't be needed, it was all over, Nasser 1, Brirish and French 0.

 

You must have experienced the anti British hostility in your tour.

 

Re Jazz. One of my sons phoned me last night to say he'd found a load of 78 rpm shellac jazz records on a skip nearby. There are too many to list but there are some golden oldies there, especially of my favourite era. I once rescued and restored a Dansette 4 speed multichanger iconic 'suitcase' style record player from a jumble sale along with a collection of 'hit parade' records from the early fifties; so I shall be able to have a nostalgic day in my 'rumpus room' alone with some all time greats and a bottle or two of Tiger beer a la Far East Naafi

Regards and cheers

Norrie

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Hi Norrie - I feel you should be on a different thread which would be more in keeping with your content, we don't want to get into trouble with the powers that be. fleetwood

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Hello Fleetwood,

I agree and apologise to all mystified Bernard Tayor fans; I'll re-navigate.

Thanks.

Norrie

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I used to have my hair cut by Elsie Shortland in the fifties and she was a really good hairdresser. I also used to go to the city hall in the fifties and sixties. Met my husband there and still continued to go every Friday after we were married. Wonderful times

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I married Heather Young, Elsie's head Stylist at Hillsborough. Met her at the City Hall when my brother occasionally played trumpet for Bernard Taylor, Had my suits made by Barney Goodman , knew Bob Stanley and Johnnie Spitzer etc ! Good old days,  Johnnie  Spitzer gave me his box at the Empire for "Sleeping Princess" Ballet where I proposed  to her ! 

Edited by golfwhiskylima@

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On 14/10/2020 at 13:11, golfwhiskylima@ said:

I married Heather Young, Elsie's head Stylist at Hillsborough. Met her at the City Hall when my brother occasionally played trumpet for Bernard Taylor, Had my suits made by Barney Goodman , knew Bob Stanley and Johnnie Spitzer etc ! Good old days,  Johnnie  Spitzer gave me his box at the Empire for "Sleeping Princess" Ballet where I proposed  to her ! 

Come on GWL, let's have some Bob Stanley and Johnny Spitzer stories. There can't be many left to tell them now.

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I remember Bernard  Taylor and is band,he played there in late 50s early 60s, I met my late wife there realy good times. 

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