Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir

Founded in 1928...

Chapter 7: Proposed and Seconded

This brief history owes much to the minute books which have been meticulously written up and carefully preserved. It is a matter of speculation how this group of young Welshmen had the knowledge and expertise to record The Party’s activities so accurately and thoroughly. The minutes are written in legible longhand, and follow the accepted formula. Where was this skill learned, what was their model? It has been suggested that some of them would have learned the craft as members of miners lodge committees back home. The detailed minute books cover the periods 1935 - 1955 and 1964 - 1975; the missing minute books are probably quietly gathering the dust in some former secretary’s cupboard under the stairs. The minutes record the unusual routine matters, which one would expect to find in an organisation of this kind -criticism of low attendance at rehearsal, pleas for punctuality, pleas for new members, criticism of deportment on the concert platform, criticism of the conductor for his choice of programme, effusive congratulations to the treasurer on his masterly presentation of the annual accounts, propositions for fund-raising activities and social events. However, they record much more, since they reflect the personalities of officers and committee members, their agreements and disagreements, their desire to serve, their determination to succeed. A few quotations will perhaps help to capture the flavour:

3.11.1935 it was decided that The Party would pay for the fares of unemployed members (to Swindon Eisteddfod)

1.12.1935 the following correspondence was read - letter from Madame Jenny Ellis reminding The Party that she was now free for engagements.

3.12.35 Mr ........ was written to with regard to the rumour that he was suing The Party

15.12.35 Messrs ..... and ........ were appointed to call on Mr....... to enquire what progress had been made with regard to repaying his debt to The Party. It was proposed, seconded and carried unanimously, that the caretaker should be given a Xmas box of ten shillings.

14.1 .36 the position of Mr ........ was discussed and as he was not in permanent work Mr ........ of Pressed Steel was to be written to by the secretary asking him if anything could be done.

26.1 .36 the secretary was requested to see Mr ......... with regard to a vacancy at The Radcliffe Infirmary.

5.7.36 the secretary to write to Dr. Tom Armstrong saying that we would appreciate a visit from him on one of our practice nights.

27.9.36 Mr brought forward a complaint that visitors to the practice room distract the attention of members of the choir. Resolved that members should advise their friends that quietness and good demeanour was essential.

28.9.37 Mr. H.Evans was incorporated (sic) on the committee

30.1.38 it was agreed to write Father Whye re chimney (as curate at Cowley he was responsible for St. Christopher’s School, where the choir rehearsed).

27.2.38 it was agreed that Mr. Hengoed be approached re daffodils (presumably for a St.David’s Day concert)

1.7.38 it was decided to invite the Rhythm Rascals Harmonica Band, provided they give their services free

10.7.38 the coach to leave Oxford at 5.30 a.m. (for Welsh National Eisteddfod)

4.4.39 agreed that the conductor should receive a grant of £4 towards the purchase of a dress suit.

24.9.39 (outbreak of war) the future of the choir was discussed at some length but it was unanimously agreed to carry on to the best of our ability. It was agreed to write to Father Whye regarding a reduction in rent (of the rehearsal room).

13.9.40 Mr.Moss, President, suggested getting in touch with Mr.R.B.Cole for the purpose of giving an entertainment to the troops under his command.

22.5.42 resolved that the name of the choir should remain the Oxford Welsh Glee Singers.

25.9.42 (A.G.M.) resolved that £10 be invested to form the nucleus of a Building Fund with the object of obtaining a rehearsal room of our own. Carried unanimously

7.1.44 the conductor reported that next practice night he would be engaged in Home Guard duties.

6.10.44 proposed and seconded that the secretary be instructed to send ten shillings to each member serving in H.M. Forces.

8.6.45 the secretary reported that he had been unsuccessful in his application to the Regional Transport Officer for permission to travel to Leamington by private coach.

20.7.48 after a long discussion (on travelling arrangements) it was proposed and seconded that all members of the choir pay full fare, wives, children and sweethearts travel free, others may attend at their own expense.

5.10.48 the treasurer reported that there were insufficient funds in the general account to settle the amount owing to Messrs Drings, for the hire of the coach on 28 Aug. It was agreed to write Messrs Drings asking their indulgence for a little while

24.4.49 moved and seconded that the Building Fund become extinct and the monies held in such Fund be merged in the General Fund

17.11.50 letter from Mr ..... requesting a loan of £22 to purchase a dress suit, so that he could be properly attired at future concerts. Request declined

14.8.51 ....this did not meet with the approval of Mr and he thereupon informed the committee that he would resign his office, and he left the meeting. He was prevailed upon to return and further discuss the matter. There was further heated discussion during which Mr tendered his resignation, and the meeting was in disorder. Eventually calm was restored

2.2.54 In view of Mrs. Hayes’ forthcoming happy event, every effort should be made to obtain a temporary pianist. (Everyone was delighted when Eileen and Arthur Hayes, accompanist and deputy conductor, were blessed with a son, rather late in life).

8.2.54 Mr. J. Evans kindly donned the specimen dress suit for members to assess its worth as regards style, texture. The examination was duly carried out, and it was the opinion of all present that if fitted in every way the requirement of The Party (at £4.9s.6d a suit!)

12.1 .67 the treasurer reported that funds had fallen low at this period due to the £50 given to the Aberfan Appeal Fund.

In minute books, scrap books and concert programmes the names of Oxford citizens prominent in many walks of life appear, supporting The Party in various ways. Vice-presidents included Capt. Bourne, M.P. for Oxford before the war, and Bunny Cole the Oxford solicitor, who later commanded the 35thL.A.A. Regiment. Civic dignitaries included Alderman Fred Moss, Alderman C.H. Brown, Alderman Skipper, who first persuaded The Party to entertain the inmates at Oxford Prison, Alderman W.M.Gray, and Alderman Mrs. (later Lady) Townsend. The church was represented by vice-presidents Rev. Maurice Beauchamp, Father Whye, and Reverend Whatley White, and the University by R.H.W. Jones, J.G. Edwards, both of Jesus College, Prof. Gilbert Murray and Dr. Micklem. The car industry was represented by Lord Nuffield, who regularly appeared at the Morris Motors Musical Festival, and presented a handsome shield for the male voice choir competition, won by The Party on several occasions; Mr. Woodcock, Works Manager and later managing director; and Messrs. Shuttleworth, Wood and Cairns, directors of Pressed Steel. Jack Thomas was closely associated with many members as first secretary of the Oxford branch of the Transport and General Workers Union. Jack was a great fighter in the cause of fair play and dignity for the manual worker in the Cowley car plants, he later became a vice-president of The Party, and chaired a number of concerts. He was in a sense one of them, since he too had left his South Wales home in 1936 and travelled to Oxford to take up his new appointment.

a selection of concert programmes
A selection of concert programmes...
Click on the image for a larger, more detailed picture

 

 

Chapter 8