On 1st March 1923 a letter was circulated around the mining village of Haydock proposing the formation of a male voice choir. A meeting took place four days later at the Haydock Conservative Club attended by 21 gentlemen and from it Haydock Male Voice Choir came into being. Most, but not all, of the founder members worked in the offices of Rich’d Evans & Co. Ltd who were the local colliery owners. The choir’s first conductor, R A (Dickey) Foster was one such official. The first Secretary was, however, Jack Evans, the local Health Inspector at the Council Offices.
At the outbreak of World War 2 the choir went into limbo but activity was restored in April 1944 when a meeting was held at which a new conductor, Llew Powell, was introduced. He replaced R A Foster who had died during the period when the choir was inactive. The meeting was chaired by Mr W L Banks who was the Company Secretary of Rich’d Evans & Co. Mr Banks was duly elected as the first choir President. This photograph was taken in 1946 and, remarkably, pictures a man still active in the choir. George Anderton, then 17 years of age is now 90 and still singing in the first tenor section.
1955 was the year that Albert E Gleave became the choir’s conductor. He had been deputy to Llew Powell but was overlooked in favour of an outsider, Ed Grimshaw, when Llew retired at the end of 1952. The choir was close to extinction through falling membership and lack of interest when Albert was prevailed upon to take up the reins. Albert was a fine tenor who had trained with the famous operatic tenor Tom Burke. He had first joined the choir when a lad of 15 and continued until called up for service in the RAF during WW2. He set about restoring the choir’s fortunes and in a long reign as choir MD he oversaw a transformation in the choir’s strength and reputation. The photograph taken in 1966 illustrates how the choir had grown in number and the display of trophies tells of competition success.
In 1972 there was a change in the choir’s administration which saw Bill Ireland and George Anderton became Secretary and Treasurer respectively. The following year was to be the choir’s 50th anniversary and it was wished to celebrate the occasion in style with a gala concert for which the choir would, for the first time, wear a uniform. The new officers set about raising the necessary funds and thus it was that, in 1973 the choir took the stage at St Helens Town Hall resplendent in new wool barathea dress suits. The following year the choir applied to enter the Llangollen International Eisteddfod. Although accepted there was such a large entry that Haydock, being newcomers, had to pre qualify in the local Town Hall. Being successful they joined the twenty plus choirs in the main competition. When the adjudication was announced it was found that Haydock had been placed 4th which turned out to be the top place of any of the British choirs. The photo opposite shows the choir before they took the stage at Llangollen. In October 1974 the choir recorded its first LP titled “Haydock Sings”. It was under the Grosvenor Records label, a Birmingham Company with a great reputation. The choir would go on to sell over 2300 discs.
In 1975 the choir made its first overseas tour to Stuttgart in Germany the “Twin Town” of St Helens. They gave concerts at Stuttgart’s main concert venue, the Liederhalle, and in neighbouring towns Fellbach and Goppingen. The choir sang to capacity and enthusiastic audiences and in each case received fulsome praise in the German press. They were treated like royalty throughout the visit and on one occasion were accorded police motorcycle escort when they went by coach to visit the Cannstatt Bierfest. The photo opposite shows the choir giving an impromptu performance on the steps of Stuttgart Town Hall where they were given an official welcome to the city. Throughout the tour the choir had been chaperoned by Siegfried Baur (Siggy) who was the Secretary of the Stuttgart choir the Cannstatter Chorvereinigung. A month after returning home a letter was received from Siggy inviting the choir to send a deputation the following March to attend his choir’s 125th anniversary celebrations. Thus began an association between the two choirs that lasted for many years.
Greg Warren takes his first competition at Biddulph and goes on to win.
The committee start planning Albert Gelave’s silver Jubilee year celebrations, this would turn out to be a dinner and a dance held at the Town Hall visiting choirs were also invited.
Haydock are published in the Lancashire life with a 2 page spread written by Tony Foster who had spent sometime interviewing the choir.
January 1980 sees a school choir from Dallas come to join Haydock at the Town Hall.
The second trip to Germany, the fundraising had been so successful, the choir then decided to buy a second uniform. The choir bought a blue uniform to have alongside the dinner suits.
This was also the first the choir took part in the 1000 voices concert at the Albert Hall. Haydock took no less of 5 coach loads down for the trip. Haydock also travels to America for the first time with visits to St Louis, Dallas, St Antonio and Tulsa.
The Champion Years HMVC Reaches Diamond Jubilee. Haydock celebrates with a joint concert with Rochdale at Wigan Queens Hall. It was well attended with an audience of 900.
The choir also sings at Cardiff Town Hall at the invitation of Ardwyn Singers, this concert was conducted by Greg Warren.
Goff Richards is commissioned to write a piece of music to commemorate the choirs 60th year, the piece of music was Psalm 150.
The choir also goes on to compete in an A class festival at Blackpool and goes on to win.