Lonely Mill by Handel Lancaster


Well-Known Member
It's 2019 now; let's try putting Handel Lancaster into the www.ancestry.co.uk database...

We see the already-mentioned 1911 census record for Stephen Handel Lancaster, orchestral conductor aged 33 and his wife Elizabeth. He still seems an excellent candidate for the composer of this piece.
But, intriguingly, we find at least one and perhaps two further Handel Lancasters - one in Glasgow electoral records between 1920 and 1930. He's alongside "Mrs Lily Lancaster" in 1920 and 1921, but alone in 1922 and 1923, and then back with Mrs Lily in 1926, 1929, and 1930. I initially thought this would be his wife, but then it occurred to me that it was a) a bit weird to move out and then back in with your spouse, and b) women didn't have full suffrage until 1928 - to have been listed, Lily must have been i) over 30, and ii) either decently well-off or a graduate; I suspect she was actually his mother.
Then in 1934-5 in Liverpool, there's another Handel Lancaster record, someone living with Alice Lancaster. Might be the same person, after marriage? Or someone different... Either might or might not be the same as the person in the 1911 census.

Someone can check back in the mid-2020s to see if we've learned anything more by then... The 1921 census will be out by then, if nothing else.

Neil Edwards

New Member
I have done a recent newspaper archive search for Handel Lancaster following a purely chance discovery in some archive editions of Wright and Round's Brass Band News, and I now have a timeline of his life between 1908 and 1938 as follows;
Handel Lancaster – Newspaper Records Timeline

According to the Dover Express, in 1908, Handel Lancaster was appointed Conductor of the Royal Hippodrome Orchestra, Dover, and he became very popular with the musicians. He left this post after only 12 months in 1909.​

At some point soon afterwards, he took up the position of Conductor of the Orchestra of the Grand Theatre in Falkirk. This theatre had been opened in 1903. He was residing at 12, Church Street. From around 1913 until approximately 1922, the Falkirk Herald published articles featuring HL’s successful tenure of this position, and. It also favourably related his capabilities as an organist.

There are some reports in the Falkirk Herald which mention a Brother S. Handel Lancaster as a Freemason of Lodge Callendar 588. This may help to identify HL as the Stephen Handel Lancaster, born in 1878, and who appears in census records of 1911 in Lambeth, London and Surrey.

According to the Dundee Evening Telegraph (8th November 1922), Handel Lancaster conducted the orchestra at the Seamore Picture House in Glasgow whilst he still lived in Falkirk. It seems that he was involved in a motor-cycle accident at the time, but the details are not clear.

In 1929, the Falkirk Grand Theatre became the ABC Regal Cinema.

By 1929, Handel Lancaster had moved to 1, Russian Avenue in Old Swan, Liverpool. He had become Secretary/Organiser of the Liverpool Branch of the Musicians' Union. He was also Conductor/Manager of the Merseyside Professional Military Band, and conductor of the Waterloo- Seaforth British Legion Silver Band.

On 21st July 1934, the Falkirk Herald records that HL returned to Falkirk to perform in a concert with the Merseyside Professional Military Band, apparently in 'medieval costumes!' There can be no doubt that this is one and the same Handel Lancaster.

On the 15th April 1937, the Liverpool Echo regretfully reported that the popular musical figure Handel Lancaster was leaving Liverpool.

From 1937, HL was living at 67, Southcroft Road in Gosport, Hampshire, and according to the Wright & Round Brass Band News of 1938, he was continuing to advertise his services as a Band Teacher, Adjudicator and Arranger. The move from Liverpool to Gosport is clearly established from two adverts in editions of the Brass Band News in 1937 and 1938. These successively show the Liverpool and Gosport addresses.

The house in Liverpool was an imposing property, especially when compared with the small bungalow in Gosport, and it is tempting to speculate that Handel Lancaster was moving into retirement or semi-retirement. Newspaper archives from that time onwards reveal virtually nothing. The events of WW2 would quite probably have eclipsed any of his activities beyond 1938.

Neil Edwards - March 2020



Last edited:

Neil Edwards

New Member
Other works by Handel Lancaster;

I was able to find references in both the Lancaster and Morecambe papers 17 Dec 1938 of a work dedicated to the Lancaster Orchestral Society. This was the Overture "John O'Gaunt"

'An overture, "John O' Gaunt," by Handel Lancaster, while quite pleasing, displayed no attributes quite worthy of the title or the composer's namesake". A programme note
17 December 1938 - Morecambe Guardian' - Clearly not particularly well received by the local critic! At least Handel Lancaster got there before Gilbert Vinter!

Other newspaper references relate that Handel Lancaster penned some comic songs/ ditties for a contemporary Welsh music hall comedian named Tom Jones (Not the Tom Jones!)
These were;
The Maid of Aberystwyth
Llewellyn in London

I doubt whether these will have survived, and they are unlikely to have been published.