Trying to trace the earliest commercial recording of 'Gresford'

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Alan Peat, Nov 9, 2017.

  1. Alan Peat

    Alan Peat New Member

    Hi folks
    I am attempting to find the earliest commercially available recordings of 'Gresford' (The Miners' Hymn) composed by Robert Saint in response to the 1930s Gresford Pit Disaster. I have not been able to find any 78rpm recordings and the earliest on an LP I have thus far found is by Grimethorpe Band on the 1968 album 'Hymns You Love' (LP) Marble Arch 859
    I am currently researching an article about the recorded history of the hymn for a possible article for The City of London Phonogram & Gramophone Society.
    Any help, even if just in forwarding this would be greatly appreciated and any information, however trivial, about the hymn would be a huge help to me. Thanks!
    Kind Regards
    Alan Peat FRSA, FHA
    (Played cornet with Murton Colliery Band & Sacriston Colliery Band (1970s) then Ever Ready (1981-2)

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  2. phildriscoll

    phildriscoll Moderator Staff Member

  3. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure if this would help at all, but I've found a reference to a recording of 'Gresford' by the Rhos Male Voice Choir, made in 1957, at St Mark's Church, St John's Wood, in London. It was released the following year on Rhos' LP, 'Music From the Welsh Mines'.

    The original has been cleaned up and remastered, and re-released in both MP3 and CD format by Moochin About Records.
    Rhos Male Voice Choir: Music from the Welsh Mines CD – Moochin' About

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
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  4. alf benger

    alf benger New Member

    I have a recording of the chiltern sound of brass featuring the ERCOL band serca 1976 if this is of interest to you I would be pleased to post it to you
     
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  5. Alan Peat

    Alan Peat New Member

    Hi Phil
    Thanks ever so much for that. I had listened to it and agree: superb! I bought a copy of 'The Pitmen's Requiem' by Peter Crookston (with a reproduction of a work by the Norh Eastern painter Norman Cornish on the cover). Well worth getting hold of as you enjoyed the programme. Still hunting those earlier recordings...will be interesting to see if anything turns up.
    Cheers
    Alan
     
  6. Alan Peat

    Alan Peat New Member

    That's exactly what I was hoping for and thanks ever so much for getting in touch. It sounds like it is indeed the one - I had presumed that any earlier recording would be by a brass band - I guess that'll teach me not to presume!!! I'm going to check on EBay now and will let you know what the result is. I'll try and get the original vinyl to see if there are any interesting sleeve notes.
    Once again, many thanks for the invaluable help
    Alan
     
  7. Alan Peat

    Alan Peat New Member

    Hi
    That's incredibly kind and I'd love to have the recording. I don't want you to be out of pocket though - if you want email your address and I'll gladly cover any costs. It is a very kind offer. My email is alanpeatppa@hotmail.co.uk
    My address is:
    Alan Peat
    2 The Walled Garden
    Grange Park Drive
    Biddulph
    Staffs
    ST8 7TA

    Do let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.
    Cheers
     
  8. phildriscoll

    phildriscoll Moderator Staff Member

    gresford_Saint_Nephew.jpg
    A few years ago, this chap came up to me outside the County Hotel at the Durham Miners Gala and asked me whether the band currently outside the hotel were playing Gresford. They were, and we had a long chat about the importance of Gresford at all the villages sending bands to the Gala. It turns out that he was the nephew of Robert Saint, and at home, he had the harmonium on which Gresford was composed.
     
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  9. Alan Peat

    Alan Peat New Member

    Hi Phil
    You didn't by chance get his name and address? I'm still hoping that it may have been recorded in the era of shellac. The research is fascinating. I wrote an article for the City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society about the wax cylinder recordings associated with the sinking of the Titanic. The search for the recorded history of 'Gresford' is of at least equal historical importance and it surprised me that a discography of recordings did not already exist.
    Thanks again for the help...it's another important piece in the jigsaw and I'm enjoying the process so much that I'm now thinking of doing the same with other brass band staples. I'll post the finished article on here in Jan/Feb 2018 as I hope it may be of interest to some members.
    Cheers
    Alan
     
  10. phildriscoll

    phildriscoll Moderator Staff Member

    Sorry Alan - I'm kicking myself for not getting his details, but it was in the midst of a heaving throng of thousands of people.
     
  11. phildriscoll

    phildriscoll Moderator Staff Member

    One other snippet that may be of interest is that each year at the Durham Miners Gala, my good friends at Kippax Brass Band go up to play on behalf of Bowburn village. One of the pieces they play is a march, 'Bowburn', which I think was commissioned by the village. The trio of the march is a rather up beat version of Gresford.
     
  12. Alan Peat

    Alan Peat New Member

    Hi Phil,
    A great snippet of information...and a strange coincidence as I was born in Bowburn (Durham Road West) and my wife was also born there in one of the main road colliery houses. It's a small world. I'm getting my lip back in at the moment and determined to be banding again in the next year. If any other snippets of info crop up I'm always very glad to hear them
    Thanks again
    Alan
     
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  13. Alan Peat

    Alan Peat New Member

    Hi Jack
    I've hunted on EBay and checked the CD but can't find 'Gresford' in the track list. I'm probably being daft!
    Rhos Male Voice Choir: Music from the Welsh Mines CD – Moochin' About
    Here's the link I found. There are also four albums on EBay but, again, no 'Gresford' in the track listing. Hoping you can help.
    Cheers
    Alan
     
  14. Alan Peat

    Alan Peat New Member

    I remember it well - I was there through the 1970s in colliery bands (once in the cathedral)
    Thanks again for the help
    Alan
     
  15. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    No - you aren't being daft. I finally managed to trace the reference to the record issued by Delysé Recording Company in 1958, with tracks taken from the recording session at St Mark's Church on 4th May, 1957 - and, to my utter bewilderment, the 'Miners' Hymn' is not on it!

    Rhos Male Voice Choir* - Music From The Welsh Mines

    I can hardly believe that the Rhos Choir, coming from a village less than 8 miles from Gresford, would not have sung the 'Miners' Hymn' in the concert at St Mark's Church, and there are references to it being recorded during that session. The only thing I can suggest is that you try contacting the Rhos Choir direct:

    Rhos Male Voice Choir - Contact Us

    If there ever was a record issued including that piece, they would, I'm sure, know about it.

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
  16. Alan Peat

    Alan Peat New Member

    Thanks ever so much for the clarification Jack. I'll give the Rhos Male Voice Choir a go as you suggest and let you know the outcome. Thanks for taking the time - greatly appreciated.
     
  17. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    You're welcome, Alan - I'll be interested to hear what they say, as I'm very puzzled by what I've found out this far.

    With best regards,
    Jack
     
  18. Alan Peat

    Alan Peat New Member

    Hi Jack
    I had a reply from Rhos male voice choir and sadly, they didn't record it. Subsequently I learned that words were not added to the tune until 1970, twenty years after Saint's death so any recording with vocals will be post-1970. Grimethorpe's 1968 recording still stands as the earliest.
    When I finish writing up the article I'll post it on here.
    All best to you
    Alan
     
  19. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Thank you for letting us know what you discovered, Alan.

    I still find it astonishing that a piece like 'Gresford', with such relevance to all miners, and which was accorded pride of place at events like the Durham Miners' Gala, wasn't recorded for three decades after it was written.

    With best regards,

    Jack
     

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