05 July 2021

"A lovely camisole for 11/6d" : the 1927 HMV mobile recordings at Hereford

The HMV van at Hereford Cathedral, September 1927

Following the adoption of electrical recording in 1925, someone at the Gramophone Company (HMV) saw an opportunity for making records outside a dedicated studio or nearby building connected by GPO landline.

This led to the construction of the "Mobile Van" in 1926. A purpose-built Lancia commercial vehicle, registration number ML1003 (Middlesbrough County Borough), which contained seven tons of recording equipment. Housed at Gramophone Company headquarters in Hayes, Middlesex, it could be driven to locations across the United Kingdom. Although planned to make conventional recordings, it opened up the possibility of making recordings of performances in "real-time", as they happened.

The van's first task was to record Harry Goss-Custard playing the brand-new organ of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on 8th February 1927

Famous recordings made on the van in 1927 included Ernest Lough singing in London's Temple Church in Mendelssohn's Hear my prayer, and cellist Beatrice Harrison duetting with a nightingale in her Oxted garden at "Foyle Riding".

HMV advertisement
Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Friday 20 January 1928

Early in the year the Gramophone Company started negotiations with the Three Choirs Festival Committee to make live recordings that the Hereford Festival in September 1927. One of their star artists, Sir Edward Elgar, was due to conduct not only The Dream of Gerontius and The Music Makers but also the premiere of his Civic Fanfare, specially commissioned for the opening concert in the cathedral.

The Bedfordshire Times and Independent reviewed the records on Friday 3rd February 1928. The review gives us a good idea of the impact the records made on contemporary listeners remembering, also, that they would have been heard on an acoustic gramophone, incapable of reproducing the finer details:

The Dream was performed at the last Three Choirs Festival in Hereford Cathedral under the conductorship of Sir Edward Elgar himself, and records were made of one or two passages by means of the mobile recording apparatus.

The results are vividly realistic - and moat tantalizing! Directly the first record begins we are actually m the cathedral, no effort of imagination needed : the sensitive microphone has caught and transmitted to the recording apparatus not merely the beauty of tone and detail of the performance, but the actual sense of the presence of large assembly. One is so conscious of forming part of that hushed audience that the abrupt break at the end of the record is quite a shock. However, we are but eavesdroppers and must be thankful that modem science can do so much for us.

The eavesdropping begins with the passages "So, pray for me" and "O Jesu help" in Part I. The solo part is sung with extreme poignancy by Tudor Davies, and the choral and orchestral background beautifully proportioned and distinct in every detail (the orchestra is the London Symphony Orchestra). In Part II we hear Horace Stevens singing with solemn impressiveness "Jesu, by that shuddering dread", and Margaret Balfour's exquisitely tender rendering of "Softly and gently", after the last few bars of the tenor’s final passage, "Take me away". The close of this record is the most tantalizing moment: if only we could hear the rest—that glorious blinding of earthly prayers and celestial hymns of praise. 

This is not all, however. There are two records containing passages from Elgar’s The Music Makers, the composer again conducting, and Brewer's Nunc Dimittis, and in each the choral singing is extremely fine. Referring generally to all four records it is difficult to praise too highly the skill of the "HMV" experts in securing such well-proportioned and beautiful reproductions.

The reviewer in the Yorkshire Evening Post of Saturday 28th January 1928 was cautious about the results:

Recording Public Performances. 

Three Choirs' Festival on Gramophone. 

The most ambitious attempt yet made to record for the gramophone an actual public performance of great musical works was that of the H.M.V. Company at the Three Choirs Festival a few months ago in Hereford Cathedral. The discs were made by the aid of microphones fixed in the cathedral and connected with a mobile recording laboratory mounted on a motor lorry which stood at one the entrances. They have now been issued and gramophone enthusiasts will able to judge the progress which has been made. 

The portions of the festival recorded are three numbers from Sir Edward Elgar's The Music Makers and four from The Dream of Gerontius, all conducted by the composer. It is appropriate that Elgar should be associated in this way with such a development, for he and his father were violinist and organist together in the orchestra of earlier Three Choirs Festivals which go back well over 200 years, while Sir Edward has shown keen personal interest the development of gramophone. 


Frankly, one must regard these records as largely experimental. Tbc difficulties which have to be overcome are great; but it must be said at once that the reverberations of the cathedral and the noises made the congregation, such as the movement of chairs and coughing, are much less intrusive than one has heard in broadcast performances under similar conditions. 

The fact that the performance cannot be regulated to suit the recording is apparent in two or three instances where the music on the disc finishes abruptly; but in the circumstances this is almost unavoidable. In the louder choral passages, the cathedral adds a characteristic echo, and it will found in playing these records that a much better effect is obtained listening to them at some distance from the gramophone—from adjoining room through open door, for example. There doubtless some scientific explanation for this. 

The tenor soloist in The Dream  is Tudor Davies, who has developed rather irritating mannerisms on the operatic stage; but in the cathedral his singing sounds much finer one had expected. 

The music of these records often attains real beauty, and to lovers of Elgar's choral works they will be especially welcome, while the H.M.V. technicians will have gained valuable experience for future efforts.

The Daily Herald's reviewer, on Tuesday 24th January 1928, took a more light-hearted approach;


Church Atmosphere on the Gramophone

 When the singer won't go to the gramophone recording studio, the studio must go to the singers. So a neat lorry drove up to Hereford Cathedral last September and waited there during the Three Choirs Festival

The lorry was connected to a microphone inside the cathedral, and the result of this quiet visit is the production of four H.M.V. records of the actual singing Elgar's Music Makers and The Dream of Gerontius. The atmosphere of a great church is uncannily conveyed, and there is a general effect of strength and singularity.

Forty-five years later, in a letter to the editor of The Gramophone of 2nd October 1972, retired HMV engineer Bernard Wratten recalled those Hereford recordings:

One evening, after the day's music making was done, Dr. Hull invited us round to his house, where we found an impressive assortment of English composers, singer and musicians. While we were there he told us that the wife of a local baronet, a lady with a considerable reputation for silliness, had been so taken with the hat of another member of the audience sitting just across the aisle during a rehearsal that she leant over to ask, under cover of combined choir and orchestra, where the hat had been bought. She had to raise her voice and at that moment the music stopped, She was clearly heard all over the Cathedral.

The tale acquired its widely circulated form from our Public Relations Officer. It had nothing whatsoever to do with our recording but he felt there was a good news-story in it, and after decorating it he sent it out to the newspapers, most of which published it.

It was Gramophone Company veteran, friend of Elgar, and Artistic Director of the International Artistes' Department, Fred Gaisberg who recorded the most decorated version of this story in his 1942 autobiography The Music Goes Round. He also provided a valuable insight into the successes and failures of mobile recording:

One of the first innovations to follow electric recording was a mobile van, with which we could realize the dream of recording actual performances. We used it with ah the gusto of a new toy. The Royal Choral Society choir of 800 strong was recorded during a Messiah performance in the Albert Hall, Gerontius at Worcester Cathedral during a Three Choir Festival, and massed bands of 1,000 players at the Crystal Palace. The Covent Garden Opera, Staatsoper in Berlin, La Scala in Milan, and the Paris Opera were all recorded later during actual performances. Many of these records were issued to the public and had a great success. For instance, the sale of the “Hallelujah Chorus” and “Lift Up Your Heads” afforded the Royal Choral Society a revenue for several years that made up the loss on many a concert.

Yet often apologies had to be tendered for coughs, sneezes and snorts from the conductor. In Toscanini’s case, for instance, he always sings along with the ’cello part and grinds his teeth. In the actual performances of opera the prompter, spitting out the cues and singing the entrance notes for the singers, disturbed the enjoyment of these records. 

Once at the Three Choir performance of Gerontius, during a sudden silent pause after a forte climax, a lady’s voice talking about “a lovely camisole for 11/6d” was clearly exposed when the record was played back, and so ruined a fine set. ["11/6d" would have been spoken as "eleven-and-six" or "eleven shillings and sixpence." In decimal currency it is the equivalent of 57.5p, or £23.44 in 2017.]

Before any of this “on the spot” recording could be projected commercially, complicated negotiations had to be undertaken with each individual unit concerned—choir, orchestra, soloists, conductor, Dean of the Cathedral and even the sexton, and their signed permission obtained before recording could legally be undertaken. At first the public bought these records because of their novelty, but afterwards the sales dropped off and the heavy costs made the venture unattractive for the gramophone companies. 


At the first Music Festival at Queen’s Hall, a fine recording conducted by Toscanini, of the Brahms Second Symphony, was ruined by so much coughing, an unmistakable sign of an influenza epidemic, that the records had to be destroyed.  

The Temple Church Choir, thanks to the masterly training of Sir Walford Davies, came into great prominence, but it was their gramophone recording of Hear My Prayer, one of the early commissions of the mobile van, that brought it international fame and caused the dusty old “church of the lawyers” to be so overwhelmed by visitors from the Dominions and the U.S.A. that tickets of admission had to be issued. The recording took place in 1926 at a special private session in the Temple Church. Thalben Ball was the choirmaster and organist, and Ernest Lough, then between 14 and 15, was the solo boy. A happy combination of chance helped to make this lovely record: the soft, acoustic resonance of the church, a boys’ choir with a fine discipline, a choirmaster who was a first-rate trainer, and a gifted boy with a musical sensibility and a silver voice just then at its prime. A year later the moment would have passed, for the voice had changed.  

The fame of record C1329 spread like wildfire and in a few years close on one million copies were sold. The royalties payable to the Temple Church really embarrassed the lawyers, so unexpected was their sum total. After bonuses to each member of the choir there was sufficient left over for a fine holiday. With the balance they founded a scholarship. 

Although Bernard Wratten in his 1972 letter said that HMV's Public Relations Department used this myth to promote the 1927 Hereford recordings, there is no evidence of this before the Nottingham Journal's item of Friday 13th November 1931. This was on the occasion of the inauguration of the new recording studios in Abbey Road, St John's Wood, by Sir Edward Elgar. The van had been built its own garage at Abbey Road:



(From Our Own Correspondent.) London, Thursday. 

Adjoining the vast new recording studios or the H.M.V. Company at St. Johns Wood, inaugurated to-day by the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Edward Elgar, is a garage which accommodates the "flying squad" of the gramophone world.

In it is a large enclosed van containing ail the apparatus necessary for making a record in readiness to set out for any part of the country in short notice. 

It has been all over the North and Midlands to choir festivals, organ recitals and public gatherings.

It was used to make a record of an organ recital by Dr. Bairstow, at York Minster, and it has been to Leeds and Hereford for their famous choral festivals. 

"The apparatus carried weighs seven tons," one of the operators told me to-day, "and so the car has to driven very carefully. We can move when occasion requires, however. 

"The funniest experience I ever had when recording from the van was at Hereford. We were In the middle of making a record of the Three Choirs Festival when suddenly, to our horror, remark from somebody near the microphone came through loud and clear on our speaker. It was pointed reference to the silk stockings worn by one of the ladles present. We decided to scrap that record."


The Hereford photo of the van published in 1927 in a mock-up of the van outside York Minster 


21 April 2021

Family Histories

The fruits of my early retirement, and especially three periods of lockdown. You will find all these trees on Ancestry.co.uk

Music and recording

'Anton Strelezki' - mysterious musician
'Audrey Mildmay' - soprano and co-founder of Glyndebourne Opera
'Daisy Bucktrout' - English pianist
'Doris Vane' - soprano
'Evlyn Howard-Jones' - English pianist
'Fifine de la Côte' - Devonport-born soprano
'Lloyd Chandos' - English tenor
'Marie Novello' - the Welsh pianist born Maria Williams
'Maurice d'Oisly and Rosina Buckram' - two famous singers
'Olga, Elgar and Eli' - the Hudson Trio
'Ruby Helder' - English female tenor
'W. F. Watt' - Scottish-Irish tenor
Ada Sassoli - Italian harpist
Alan Dower Blumlein - pioneer of stereophonic recording
Alma - a music teacher in wartime Windsor
Andrew Bohman - music teacher
Anne Thursfield - mezzo-soprano
Anthony C Griffiths - British recording engineer
Ben and Peter - Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears
Brian Sewell - art historian - includes his father Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock)
Bryan Davies - The Rachmaninov of the Rhondda
Carmen Hill - Scottish contralto
Cipriani Potter - English composer and friend of Beethoven
Clara Butt and Kennerley Rumford - English singers
Colonel George Gouraud - soldier, inventor and entrepreneur
Constance Shacklock - English contralto 
Dame Ethel Smyth - English composer
Dame Janet Baker - English singer
Dame Patricia Routledge - English actress and singer
David Stone - composer and arranger
Denise Leigh - English soprano
Denne Parker - singer and voice coach - includes Sir Granville Bantock
Dr William Prendergast - English organist
Edna Thornton - contralto
Eli Parish (Elias Parish-Alvars) - English harpist and composer
Ethel Hobday - pianist
Felix Salmond - Elgar's cellist
Ferdinand Schottlaender -  the husband of Jessie Bond
Frank Pollock - American tenor
Frank Tapp - composer, conductor and pianist of Bath
Fred Hylands - who died in Barrow-in-Furness
George Butterworth - English composer
George Walters - a friend of E.D.U.
Gilbert, Sullivan and D'Oyly Carte
Gustav Holst - English composer
Gwen Catley - coloratura soprano
Harry Plunket Greene - Anglo-Irish baritone
Harry Yager - cabinetmaker and creator of the 'Yagerphone'
Henry Balfour Gardiner - composer
Henry Geehl - English musician
Henry Lane Wilson - English baritone and composer
Herbert Heyner and Bertha Lewis
Hope Jackman - singer and actress
Ida Haendel - violinist
Ignatius Sancho - English composer, grocer and butler
Ilse Veda Duttlinger - American-German violinist
Irene Thomas - a very special person
James Henry Lewis - Principal of the Victoria College of Music
Janet and Marion - American singers
Joan Gray - contralto
Johannes Wagenaar - Dutch composer
Joseph Bossi - trumpet player of Bath
Joyce Gartside - soprano
Joyce Grenfell - English comedienne
Kathleen Ferrier - English contralto
Lambert Williamson  - composer
Leff Pouishnoff - Ukrainian pianist
Lillian Elkington - composer
Liza Lehmann - English composer
Louise Kirkby Lunn - contralto
Margaret Ritchie - soprano
Marion Grimaldi - English soprano
Marjorie Westbury - actress and singer
Nancy Evans - English mezzo-soprano
Nicholls and Harty - soprano and composer-conductor
Norfolk Magone - conductor
Norman Del Mar - English conductor
Patricia Fairlie Baird - Australian soprano
Percy Kahn - pianist, organist and accompanist
Peter Maxwell Davies - composer
Raimund Herincx - English baritone
Rev. Thomas Helmore - the man behind Good King Wenceslas and other carols
Richard Arnell - British composer
Richard Tauber -  Austrian tenor
Rutland Boughton - creator of the first Glastonbury Festival
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor - composer
Sir Adrian Boult - English conductor
Sir Edward Elgar - composer
Sir Edward German - English composer
Sir Henry Lytton and his extended family
Stanley Bate - Plymouth's forgotten composer
Steven Peppiatt - the 'EMG Colonel'
Tahu Rhodes Family Tree
The Gresham Singers
The Ramagnano musicians of Plymouth
The Speyer Family Tree
Theo Marzials - composer
Thomas Adès - composer
Walter, Vernon and Maryetta Midgley - a trio of English singers
Two Atkins families
Dr. William Crotch - child prodigy, composer, academic and organist

Stage, Film, Television and Radio

'Charles Vane' - English actor
'Fenella Fielding' - British actress
'Gorden Kaye' - an English actor
'Hattie Jacques' - British comedienne
Ada Allen - housekeeper to Sir John Martin-Harvey and his family
Angela Rippon - TV personality
Ann Stephens - child star
Babs - Barbara Windsor - English actress
Ben Debar - English actor
Betjemanns, Boatwrights and Bishops
Christine Keeler and her world
Cliff Gordon - actor and playwright
Cyril Clensy - actor
Dame Patricia Routledge - English actress
Esmond and Rosalind Knight - English actors
Ferdinand Schottlaender -  the husband of Jessie Bond
Francis Alick Howard - 'Frankie Howerd' - comedian
George Edwardes - theatre manager
Gilbert, Sullivan and D'Oyly Carte
Hope Jackman - singer and actress
Irene Thomas - a very special person
Jenny Sontag - actress
Joan Hickson - actress
Joan Sims - English actress
John Inman and Josephine Tewson - were they cousins?
Joyce Grenfell - English comedienne
Kenneth Williams
Leslie Crowther
Mabel Constanduros - actress and writer
Marjorie Westbury - actress and singer
Peter Ustinov
Pru and Tim - two English actors
Ralph de Rohan - actor
Sir Henry Lytton and his extended family
Victoria Wood


'Ellis Walton' - the English poet
'Margaret Rose' - lyricist
Bertram Paget Matthews - playwright
Betjemanns, Boatwrights and Bishops
Cecil Torr - author of Small Talk in Wreyland
Charles and Mary Lamb
Christopher Fowler - English writer
Cliff Gordon - actor and playwright
Dora Jessie Saint - Miss Read - author
Frederick William Rolfe, Baron Corvo
Gilbert, Sullivan and D'Oyly Carte
Gladys de Mancha - the woman who wrote 'Kiddi-logues'
Henry Courtoy - Keeper of the Chapel Royal, Holyrood
Jeanne Preston - the editor of Anne Hughes' Diary
Joan Henry - English writer
Joyce Grenfell - English comedienne
Mabel Constanduros - actress and writer
Mary Maria Colling - poet of Devon
N. C. Hunter - the English Chekhov
Nell and Frank - a love story of the Great War
Pam Ayres - English poet
Peter Gold New
Peter Ustinov
The Durrells
The Provincial Lady - 'E. M. Delafield'
Victoria Wood
Wills and Langbridge - writers of The Only Way

Artists and Architects

Emily Mary Osborn - English artist
Erik Ekengren - artist
The Bonomi Family - Anglo-Italian architects
Zaida Ben Yusuph 


'Norman Scott' - a man more sinned against
Adam Wagstaff - convicted of bestiality
Charles Peace - murderer
Christine Keeler and her world
Ferdinand Schottlaender -  the husband of Jessie Bond
Jane 'Sax' - a little girl murdered by James Longhurst
Jane Pearce - victim of attempted murder
Nicholas Day - who murdered his wife
Nurse Sauvarin - wife of four days
Princess Caraboo
Ruth Ellis - the last woman to be hanged in England
Sarah Smith - poisoned by Charles Barlow
The Mignonette - the men behind Regina v Dudley and Stephens
The 'Towpath Murderer' and his victims
The Canonical Five
The Uncanonicals
The World of 19 Cleveland Street
Thomas Busby - 'juvenile robber'
Walter Charles Douse - a gullible man

Against the tide

'Catherine Coome' - who lived for forty years as a man
'Ennis Lawson' - an intriguing lady
'Gentleman Jack' - Miss Lister and Miss Walker
'Sam Redfern' - the 'Black Philosopher'
Cora - the Pearl of Plymouth
Dr Mabel Ramsay - pioneering female doctor
Eric and Irina Barton - the Wooton Timeslip couple
Florence Pannell - supercentenarian
Francis Barber - Dr Johnson's assistant
Janet and Marion - American singers
Joanna Southcott - English prophetess
Lilith Lucile Bruce - suffragist
Teddy Grimes and Marmalade Emma - two Colchester personalities
The 'Silly Hannahs' - two of Colchester's eccentrics
The Archers - an everyday story of Ambridge folk
William Penwarden - who hanged himself in a railway train

(Fairly) Ordinary folk

'Mrs Baigent' - chain-smoking cataloguer of Plymouth Public Libraries
'Mrs F. R. Phillips'
'Tilly Allen' and family
'Toddie' - Miss Winifred Todd
Alfred Haydn Pellitt - a Burnley man killed in action
Arabella Amelia Wills
Boxall Family Tree
Dr William Skelly - General Practitioner of Poplar
Eli Turner - mechanical engineer of Calais
Elizabeth Cookworthy - the woman in the Bretonside Coffin
Emma Sophia Stroud
Fred Plampin
Fursdon, Egg Buckland, Devon
Geoffrey Waring Lamb
Gilbert Slater
Harris of Southend
Grace Jane Andrews
John Burnicle - of the ship 'Friends' Adventure'
John Courtoy and his world
John Down Cockwell - laundry proprietor
John J Norton - philanthropist
John Oxland - with both possible sets of parents
Joseph Whiteside Boyle - Hampton Hill's forgotten resident
Know Thine Enemy
Little Charlie Goddard
Margaret and Mike Maker
Mary Berry - TV cook
Michael Joseph Falcon
Miss Daphne Maude Whiteman - family friend
Nurse Sauvarin - wife of four days
Peter Gold New
Richard Goyder and his family
Roe Family Tree
Ron and Win - killed by a train on their wedding day
Samuel Woolrick - designer
Sir Manasseh Masseh Lopes - First Baronet of Maristow
Spanners and Smalts
Squelch Family Tree
Stoker Wheway
Symons Family Tree
The Burridge family
The Chadder Family of Holbeton
The Cotton Family
The Crapper Family
The Curling Tree
The Eggins Family
The Goldsmith Family Tree
The Gomez Family of Plymouth
The Guhrauer Mystery
The Lort Family
The Martin Family
The O'Hara Family
The Ovington-Jones sisters of Hampton Hill, Middlesex
The owners of Erddig
The Oxland Family
The Parkers of Saltram
The Prichard Family
Theresa May - former Prime Minister
Walter Hammerton - ferryman
Whitewick Family Tree
Who was Jessie Annandale?
William and Frances - who looked the wrong way and were killed by a tram
William Clarke - haberdasher of Enfield, Middlesex
William Hoskings - a Waterloo House young man
William John Stephen Clark


Goddard-Flicker-Mellish-Harvey - includes UK royal family
Joseph Whiteside Boyle - Hampton Hill's forgotten resident - included Queen Marie of Romania
King Manuel II of Portugal


'Dr Mortimer' - headmaster of Thames Valley Grammar School
'Mr Jeremy' - French teacher at Thames Valley Grammar School
Alma - a music teacher in wartime Windsor
Andrew Bohman - music teacher
Mr Bligh - first headmaster of Thames Valley Grammar School
Peter Gold New
Rosalind Sanford
The Marmoy Family

11 February 2021

The Re-opening of St Mary the Virgin, Wivenhoe, after restoration, in 1860

St Mary the Virgin, Wivenhoe, before the earthquake of 1884

From the Essex Standard - Wednesday 13 June 1860

Wivenhoe Church had long needed restoration, and to those who see it in its renovated and re-modelled state it may not be uninteresting to glance back at what it was little more than a year ago—a source of anxious care to the Rector—of a feeling akin to sorrow to all who had a local interest in it.

The flat roofs of the chancel and aisles were in danger of falling in from decay; the nave roof not much safer, though it had undergone a recent repair, and had a stained deal ceiling, showing fair below; the parapets of tower and south aisle dangerous; the buttresses falling from the tower they should support; the damp earth of the churchyard accumulated several feet above the level of the floor; the flooring rotten, the paving damp, the pews unsightly and inconvenient; one south porch the ruin of an old oak structure, which, while the architect was talking of repairing, was blown away by the wind, leaving nothing that could be made serviceable again.

Such was the constructive condition of the church, and the old arrangement of the interior was so bad for all church purposes as to warrant a re-building, even had the state of repair not then been what it really was.

A low chancel arch, with massive piers, placed nearer the west end by 13 feet than the present, reduced the nave to 30 feet instead of 43 feet, as it now is; and the excessive chancel, void of all architectural effect or of church-like propriety, received the bulk of the congregation in high square pews, and contained also the pulpit, reading-desk, and clerk's desk, leaving to the nave a dwarfed and inferior aspect; while to open the view from a gallery, which extended all over the north chancel aisle, the old arcade had been ruthlessly removed, and the roofs were supported by the wooden posts that carried at the same time the gallery.

When we have added to this description another gallery at the west end, and a broken font, a wooden east window, and cement windows on the south side, we present some picture of the work undertaken by the Committee. Looking at the present appearance of the sacred edifice it is not too much to say that their labours have been crowned with entire success, and have produced a church which, for singular beauty of proportion and richness of design, with the chaste elegance of all its accessories, may be long without a rival and we heartily congratulate them on the termination of their efforts.

Stone porches protect both the north and south doors; the north, which forms the principal entrance, is very handsome: above the deeply-moulded entrance arch is a carved panel representing the "miraculous draft of fishes," appropriate as symbolizing the ingathering of the Church, and locally reminding us of Wivenhoe being a maritime and fishing village. Both porches are surmounted by ornamental crosses, and have oak roofs.

Massive oak doors, covered with iron-work, open into the north and south aisles of the nave, the two first arches of which are original, and, with some dilapidated windows of the north aisle, which have been replaced with new, have given the key to the architectural period of the whole work, viz., the Decorated of the 14th century. A third corresponding arch complete the length of the nave, which is terminated by a lofty chancel arch, carried on bracketed columns, with angle corbels, exquisitely carved.

The chancel has two arches in length, except that on the south side a third smaller arch is introduced, which, while its object is manifest in giving an open cheerful aspect to the seats at this end of the south aisle, gives a pleasing effect of irregularity the corresponding space on the other side being occupied by the vestry.

With the exception of the south aisle, which has been added, all the walls are on the old foundation.

As there are now no galleries, the tower arch is open, and shows the west window above the organ—the old organ in a renovated case. A little in advance of the tower arch is a new font square in shape, on polished-marble pillars, with carved capitals, at the angles of which, rounded off till they blend into the circular form of the columns, are carved lilies, to signify the dedication of the Church to St. Mary the Virgin.

The pulpit and reading-desk are of stone, combined in one composition, and placed on the north-west side of the chancel arch. A pierced parapet encloses the reading-desk, from which, on the west side, a marble column rises to support the Bible, and brass scrolls carry the prayer-desk on the south side. The front of the pulpit has a carved panel representing "the Sermon on the Mount," and round the top, under a carved cornice, are Scripture sentences. This is a memorial donation in memory of one who died before the work she had longed to see completed was yet begun.

The altar rail is also of stone: a parapet of open pierced trefoils leaving a vacant space in the centre in front of the table, the effect of which is exceedingly good.

The whole of the pewing is of oak, very massive and solid; all the parcels in the square ends of the nave seats are filled with carved tracery of varying design.

In the chancel the stall ends have carved finials of beautiful workmanship, and on the elbows are carved animals, the dove or eagle, the griffin, and dog.

The east window of the chancel and the east window of the north chancel aisle are filled with the richest stained glass, and are both memorial windows, as are also the tower window and the west window of the south aisle of the nave.

Open timber roofs of high pitch cover the building. The chancel and its aisles are in three gables. The nave is gabled, with lean-to roofs for its aisles.

The chancel roof has arched ribs of peculiar form, placed both transverse and longitudinally.

The nave roof has transverse arched ribs, with bosses carved as heads representing the twelve Apostles and the Saviour.

The effect of these unstained roofs is very satisfactory, while exteriorly their height is a great improvement, bringing the church into view from many distant points from whence it could not formerly be seen.

Considering that the Committee have ventured £500 beyond the funds at present placed at their disposal, we cannot blame them (since no actual necessity to do more existed) for stopping somewhat short of what the attainment of exterior perfection would have suggested; but we hope at some future and not distant day to see the anomalous turret removed from the top of the tower, and another effort made to replace it with a spire, which will render the outline of the edifice as complete and harmonious as the interior. As it is, however. Wivenhoe may well be proud of its church; and, judging from the holiday appearance of the village on Wednesday, the flags and flowers and decorations of various kinds which were displayed from the houses surrounding the sacred edifice, such undoubtedly is the feeling of the inhabitants, together with the pleasing anticipation of once more being able to worship in their own church, after a suspension of that privilege for fully 12 months, the first stone of the new works having been laid by Lady Georgiana Rebow on the l0th of June, 1859.

The total cost of the restoration is about £3,000. The design was furnished by, and the works carried out under the superintendence of, E. C. Hakewill, Esq., Architect, of 8, South Molton Street, London; the builders being Messrs. White, of Vauxhall Road, London, and Mr. Eade, of Wivenhoe.

The weather was exceedingly stormy; but, although necessarily a considerable drawback to the comfort of the visitors, it fortunately seemed to have no effect in diminishing their numbers; and by half-past 11 o'clock the church was filled, the congregation including a large number of the local gentry and the clergy of the eastern part of the county. The Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Rochester, who had consented to preach on the occasion, sat at the communion table with the Rev. G. Fisk, the preacher for the afternoon. The morning service including the Litany, was read by the Rector, the Rev. E. T. Waters.

The Bishop selected as his text 1 Peter II. 4, 5—"To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."

[Sermon omitted here]

At the close of his Lordship's discourse the Rev. G. Fisk read the Offertory sentences, during which the parish officers—J. G. Rebow, Esq., and Mr. William Browne, Churchwardens; and Messrs. Blyth and Mr. N. Harvey, Overseers, made the collection, which, including four donations of £5 each, amounted to £87 17s. 7d.

By invitation of the Rector, the Bishop, accompanied by J. G. Rebow, Esq., and a large number of clergy, repaired to the Rectory, where an elegant luncheon had been provided.

The dining-room, though large, was not of sufficient dimensions to hold a fifth part of the assembled guests. On those who had first sat down to the luncheon rising from the table to make room for others, the Rector requested them to remain for a few moments whilst he proposed to them (which he did in a few graceful and feeling words) to drink the health of the Lord Bishop of the Diocese, who had kindly come amongst them that day, with many thanks for the valuable and excellent discourse which he had delivered in the church.

The Bishop, in rising to return thanks to Mr. Waters and the company assembled for the compliment they had paid him, assured them that he felt that so far from any thanks being due to him for appearing amongst them on so highly interesting an occasion, the pleasure—he might almost term it the selfish pleasure—of seeing such a vast assembly of the clergy and laity of the neighbourhood was one which he would not easily forget. He sincerely thanked them for the compliment they had paid him.

Mr. Rebow then rose to thank his Lordship, on behalf of the laity, for the kind manner in which he had spoken of them, and assured him that if he should find himself as well supported by the clergy as he was convinced he would be by the laity he would have no reason to complain of a want of sympathy in carrying on his work in the arduous post which he had been called upon and which he trusted he would long live to fill.

At the afternoon service, which took place at four o'clock, there was again a very full congregation. The prayers and lessons were read by the Rector; and an eloquent extempore sermon was preached by the Rev. George Fisk, LL.B., Prebendary of Lichfield, and Incumbent of the Abbey Church, Great Malvern. The second collection was nearly £19, making the total proceeds of the day £106.

In the evening the Bishop was entertained at dinner by Mr. and Lady Georgiana Rebow at Wivenhoe Park; and amongst those present to meet his Lordship were Lord Braybrooke, Lord Norbury, the High Sheriff and Mrs. Errington, Sir Claude de Crespigny, J. Bawtree, Esq., A. Stewart, Esq., Rev. Dr. Seaman, Rev. G. Fisk. LL.B., Rev. E. T. Waters, Rev. L. W. Owen (Rural Dean), Rev. C. Burney, Rev. O. Fisher, &c. The Bishop remained the night at Wivenhoe Park, and left early on Thursday morning to fulfil an engagement in another part of his Diocese.

We append a list of the clergy and the principal laity whom we observed present at the opening services, viz.,

Lord Norbury, J. Gurdon Rebow, Esq., A. Stewart, Esq., Sir Claude de Crespigny, General Waters, J. Bawtree, Esq., G. H. Errington, Esq. (High Sheriff), J. T. Ambrose, Esq., J. F. Bishop, Esq., J. Cardinall, Esq., W. R. Havens, Esq., J. G. Chamberlain, Esq., C. Smythies, Esq., E. C. Hakewill, Esq. (architect), F. Francis, Esq., P. Francis, Esq., J. H. Church, Esq. (vestry clerk), &c., &c.;

Revds. Dr. Taylor, Dr. Wright, Dr. Seaman, W. Harrison, C. A. L'Oste, L. W. Owen. C. Burney, J. H. Dewhurst, J. Papillon, P. Honywood, H. B. Newman, J. H. Pollexfen, R. Duffield, P. Fenn, W. Y. Smythies, F. Curtis, J. Todd, B. Lodge, C. S. Lock, H. A. Olivier, G. E. Carter, H. R. S. Smith, C. F. Hayter, J. M. Chapman, J. H. Swainson, G. T. Lermit, W. Thorp, H. Calthrop, V. M. Torriano, W. R. Browell, R. S. Cummins, B. Smith, P. Bennett, J. G. Jenkins, W. P. Babington, O. Fisher, J. Atkinson, T. C Brettingham, W. Walsh, W. Laing, E. F. Ventris, J. Gregory, G. R. Medley, W. Latten, H. Evans, J. Bates, S. C. Prickard (Dimsdale), — Carwithers, Chaplain to H.M.S. Pembroke, &c. &c.

Besides contributions in money, some of the principal decorations of the church are the result of private munificence.

The very handsome memorial window in the chancel was the gift of the Corsellis family, to the memory of their parents and ancestors, whose remains are deposited in the family vault beneath. The subjects comprise the annunciation, baptism, crucifixion, and entombment. In the east of the north chancel aisle is a stained glass memorial window, presented by the Rev. E. T. Waters, to the memory of his deceased wife. The two side lights represent our Saviour bearing the cross, and His appearance to Mary Magdalene in the garden; and the central light depicts Christ's Ascension. The upper tracery contains symbolical representations of the Trinity and the Four Evangelists. These windows were executed by Warrington, of London.

Another memorial window, at the west-end of the church, representing "Christ walking upon the sea and stilling the tempest," was presented by Mrs. Martin, in memory of her deceased husband, Captain Edward Martin, of the Marquis of Anglesea's yacht, Pearl.

The memorial window in the church tower, behind the organ, depicting two full-sized figures of angels, expressive of praise, was given by Mr. Isaac Blyth, to the memory of his late father, at the time of the restoration of the sacred edifice. The two latter windows were executed by Cassell, of London.

The stone pulpit is a memorial donation to the church in memory of the deceased wife of the Rev. E. T. Waters, Rector,

All the communion furniture, comprising two beautifully-carved oak altar chairs, stools, Brussels floor carpet and rich crimson velvet altar cloth, with gilt monogram “I H S” were the gift of Lady Georgiana Gurdon Rebow; and Lady Claude de Crespigny presented a handsome book cushion.

The large Bible and Prayer-book, elegantly bound in morocco on the reading desk, contained the following inscription “Presented by the ladies and female parishioners to the parish church of St. Mary, Wivenhoe, on its restoration, June 6th 1860. Rev. E. T. Waters, M.A., Rector; Rev. J. J. Bennetts, Curate; J. G. Rebow, Esq. and Mr. W. Browne, churchwardens”

Two beautifully-carved wood alms plates, with the inscriptions “Freely ye have received, freely give”, “God loveth a cheerful giver” were presented by the Rector.

26 November 2020

Patricia Baird - Australian soprano

It all started in 2006 when I bought an LP. It was one of those very early Decca LPs that didn't have an inner sleeve.

On one side was a "vocal selection" from Sir Edward German's 1902 comic opera Merrie England. On the other side were recordings of his two most popular sets of dances drawn from incidental music to Shakespeare's Henry VIII Sir Henry Irving's 1892 production and Edward Rose's 1900 play English Rose. Better known as Nell Gwyn and based on the novel by Anthony Hope.

The New Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Decca's producer Victor Olof (1898 – 1974). But it was the four singers, and one of them in particular, who interested me:

Patricia in 1951

The contralto Marjorie Thomas (1923–2008), tenor Alexander Young (1920–2000) and bass-baritone John Cameron (1918–2002) were all well-known to me. But who was the soprano, Patricia Baird? She was clearly good enough to be chosen to record with Thomas, Young and Cameron, but what happened to her subsequently? And where did she come from? 

A quick Internet search - back in 2006 - revealed very little, but posting to a mailing list produced a response from one of Patricia Baird's cousins in Australia. She was able to tell me that Patricia was still alive and living in Sydney, New South Wales, and that her husband, Fred, was in a nursing home suffering from dementia. 

Pat (as she quickly became) was feeling isolated from anyone who knew about the sort of music she had performed. So, with her cousin acting as a go-between, I established a one-way conversation with Pat, sending her my transfer of the recording and getting (via her cousin) her positive feedback and thanks. 

That was fourteen years ago. Since then both Pat and her husband have died, and online resources for finding out about Pat's early career have become available. Notably the National Library of Australia's Trove, the British Newspaper Archive and the BBC's Genome project. 


Patricia was the daughter of John Nicol Baird (1878-1952) and his second wife Edith Lydia Marguerite (née Crowe). John Nicol Baird, born in Geelong, Victoria, was a farrier and later a commercial traveller. He had been in South Africa for the Boer War, working as a "shoeing-smith" (a farrier). He enlisted because he was deeply patriotic and had heard that the army (heavily dependent on horses) was short of farriers. 

When John returned to Australia he married his first wife, Camellia Barnard, in 1902. They had three children, two died in infancy, but John Maxwell Baird (known as Max) was born in 1904 and died in 1949. 

John remarried on 27th December 1921 at Holy Trinity Church, Dulwich Hill, Sydney. His second wife was Edith Lydia Marguerite Crowe and their wedding was impressive enough to be covered in some detail in the local newspaper. They moved to Melbourne immediately afterwards for work.

Edith, the pianist

Edith had grown up in Goonellabah, an eastern suburb of the city of Lismore in north-eastern New South Wales. In 1913 she entered the Lismore Musical Festival's piano Sight Reading Test and the open Piano Champion Soloist class. This required her to play Rachmaninov's C sharp minor Prelude, Mendelssohn's Andante and Rondo capriccioso (her own choice) and to sight read a piece of "moderate difficulty". 

In March the following year Edith entered the Champion Piano Solo class of the Maclean Musical Festival, and in June she entered the same class in the Casino Eisteddfod. [Eisteddfods (Australian plural) have also been adopted into Australian culture. Much like the Welsh original, eisteddfods are competitions that involve testing individuals in singing, dancing, acting and musicianship.] Finally, in September 1914, she won First Prize in the Champion Piano Solo class of the Lismore Musical Festival with 93 points. 

John supported his wife and children in their musical endeavours. In 1936 he became a committee member of the Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod.

Early years in Lismore

Patricia's elder brother, Keith Nicol Baird, was born ten months after his parents' wedding, on 1st November 1922. 


John and Edith Baird's daughter was born on 8th March 1926, either in Lismore, New South Wales or Ormond, Victoria. Her father registered her birth and named his daughter after her mother - Edith Lillian Baird. Her name was soon changed to Patricia Fairlie Baird. A year later six-year-old Keith broke his leg in a car accident at Brunswick Heads. He spent six weeks in St Vincent's Hospital and then returned home.

Geraldine Spring, 1938

As Edith was a talented pianist it would have been her idea for her children, Keith and Patricia, to have music lessons. Miss Geraldine Spring taught violin to children small and large, and both Keith and Patricia were her pupils. 


Patricia Baird, aged three

In September 1929 Miss Spring successfully entered Keith for the Trinity College London "First Steps" violin examination. Patricia must have started violin lessons around this time because in December that year Miss Spring set up a Christmas event for her pupils and their parents but Keith and Patricia did not attend.


Patricia's first public recital took place in the studio of Paling's musical instrument store in Lismore, a few days before her fourth birthday in March 1930.  Miss Spring predicted "a wonderful future for this little prodigy". The family were living at 18 Elton Street, Lismore. Lessons with Miss Spring continued, and so did the routine of taking music exams, entering competitions and playing in concerts:

  • March 1930 - Irish Musical Festival, Lismore - Keith Baird, Violin Solo (under 10 years) - Dare: June Days - 85 marks
  • April 1930 - Australian Music Examinations Board (A.M.E.B) examinations, Lismore - Keith Baird, Violin Grade VI, credit
  • September 1930 - Lismore Musical Festival - Patsy and Keith Baird, Violin (under 8 years)
  • October 1930 - A.M.E.B. examinations, Lismore - Keith Baird, Violin Grade V [Why Keith took Grade V having already taken Grade VI isn't clear. Perhaps this is an error on the part of the newspaper], pass - Pat Baird, Violin Grade VI, credit
  • May 1930 - Newrybar-Bangalow [34km (21 miles) from Lismore] Young People's Guild competitive concert - Master Keith Baird, violin solo (his father also attended and gave a recitation)
  • August 1930 - Masonic Hall, Bangalow - Violin solos, Pat Baird and Keith Baird - recitations, Mr Baird

Keith and Patricia's artistic endeavours weren't just limited to playing the violin. By September 1930 they were also taking dancing lessons from Miss Estelle de Boshier in Lismore and entering fancy dress competitions: 

  • September 1930 - Dancing Time Review, Lismore - Minuet in G danced by Pat and Keith Baird - "Rounds of applause greeted the dance".
  • October 1930 - Lismore Ladies Hospital Committee Linen Tea - "Little Pat and Keith Baird in a duo dance"
  • October 1930 - Richmond Hall, Lismore (in aid of the Methodist Sunday School) - "Keith and Pat Baird danced a minuet"
  • November 1930 - Miss Spring's Concert, Apollo Hall, Lismore (in aid of the Returned Soldiers League) - Violin solo, Pat Baird ("tiny tot") - Violin solo, Keith Baird - "Mr Baird gave his rendition of The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe"
  • December 1930 - Babes in the Wood, Federal Hall, Lismore - Keith Baird as one of the two Babes and Pat Baird dancing


  • May 1931 - Fancy Dress Ball, Apollo Hall, Lismore (Parents' and Citizens' Association of the Lismore District Rural School) - Five years and under - "Bride and Bridegroom" - Patty Baird and Stan Dent
  • June 1931 - Juvenile Ball, Apollo Hall, Lismore (in aid of the Memorial Baths) - Best pair ("Rule Britannia" and "John Bull") - Peggy Parkins and Keith Baird
  • June 1931 - Juvenile Ball, Apollo Hall, Lismore (in aid of the establishment of a children's ward in Lismore Hospital) - Bridal costume (Bride), Pat Baird - Early Victorians II, Keith Baird

Growing up in Wagga Wagga

At some point between August 1931 and August 1932 the Baird family moved to Wagga Wagga, a town equidistant between Australia's two largest cities, Melbourne and Sydney. Patricia's father worked as a commercial traveller, and they lived at 30 Best Street.


The round of competitive festivals, examinations and concerts continued:

  • August 1932 - Oxford Theatre, Wagga Wagga - Gurwood Street School Ball - Prize for fancy costume, boys - Keith Baird as a page
  • August 1932 - Oxford Theatre, Wagga Wagga - Gurwood Street School Ball - Prize for fancy costume, girls - Patsy Baird as a Victorian


  • June 1933 - London College of Music examinations, Wagga Wagga - Elocution, primary first class pass - Patsy Baird
  • September 1933 - Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod -  Under-12s Violin - L'Extase by Lardelli [Guglielmo Lardelli (1850-1908), published in Sydney in 1912 in an arrangement by Cyril Monk. A score is online on Trove]. Keith came second; Patricia came third, with 82 points
  • September 1933 - Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Recitation - Vespers by A.A. Milne - Patsy Baird, third with 79 points
  • September 1933 - Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Vocal solo, boys or girls, under 10 years - Little Bo Peep by Felix White - Patsy Baird, joint second with 82 points
  • November 1933 - Gurwood Street Public School, Wagga Wagga - "Patsy Baird then sang Little Bo Peep...The next number was a violin solo by Patsy 


  • September 1934 - Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Violin solo, under 12 years - Minuet in G by Bach - Keith Baird, second with 80 points - Patsy Baird, 77 points
  • September 1934 - Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Solo, boys or girls under 10 years - The Good Little Jackass - Patsy Baird, 75 points
  • September 1934 - Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Recitation, boys or girls under 12 - The Beggar Maid - Patsy Baird, 77 points
  • December 1934 - Wonderland Theatre, Wagga Wagga - Beauty And The Beast - Patsy Baird
  • December 1934 - St John's Hall, Wagga Wagga - "Patsy Baird gave the recitation Where's Mum?" - The Mill Wheel and Neapolitan were played as a violin duo number by Patsy and Keith Baird
  • December 1934 - St John's Hall, Wagga Wagga - Distribution of Sunday School Prizes - Keith Baird, violin solo, Londonderry Air - Patsy and Keith Baird, violin duet, La Serenata and Minuet in G


  • March 1935 - Wonderland Theatre, Wagga Wagga (in aid of the Wagga Citizens' Band) - "Keith Baird played a violin solo, Ave Maria, in a manner which was greatly appreciated by the audience."
  • May 1935 - St John's Café, Wagga Wagga - Wagga Red Cross Society Presentation of Medals - "Miss Patsy Baird, who sang"
  • June 1935 - St John's Hall, Wagga Wagga - Mothers' Union Café - "The dainty and well-served afternoon teas were greatly enjoyed, as also were the nicely-executed musical items contributed by Keith and Patsy Baird."
  • June 1935 - Wonderland Theatre, Wagga Wagga - Combined Schools Concert - "The violin solos rendered by Keith Baird were very well executed"
  • August 1935 - Church of England Tea Tent, Wagga Show - "Musical items will be contributed by Patsy Baird and Keith Baird"
  • September 1935 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Solo, boys or girls, under 10 - All On A Monday Morning - Patsy Baird, 82 points - Violin solo, under 19 years - Souvenir - Keith Baird, 73 points
  • September 1935 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Violin solo, under 19 years - Souvenir - Keith Baird, 73 points
  • September 1935 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Violin solo, under 12 years - Waltz by Alfred Hill - Patsy Baird, joint first with 82 points
  • September 1935 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Recitation, boy or girl, under 12 - A Fancy from Fontanelle by Ernest Dobson - Patsy Baird, 84 points
  • September 1935 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Duet in character - Dresden China - Patsy Baird and H. Tolhurst, joint second prize with 83 points
  • September 1935 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Waltz-Clog, under 12 - Patsy Baird, 80 points
  • November 1935 -  A.M.E.B. Violin Grade V with Honours - Patricia Baird


  • April 1936 - Tumut Eisteddfod - "Mr J. N.Baird, a member of the Wagga Eisteddfod Council, in reply, thanked Mr Hill for his welcome."
  • April 1936 - Tumut Eisteddfod - Violin solo, under 14 years - Keith Baird (only competitor), 81 points
  • May 1936 - Wonderland Theatre, Wagga Wagga - Combined School Concert - "The violin solo, Toselli's Serenata, was nicely rendered by Keith Baird, a promising boy who produced a nice tone with sympathetic touches"
  • August 1936 - St John's Hall, Wagga Wagga - Roses of Joy ("Spectacular operetta") - "Patsy Baird, the fairy queen, portrayed her part with royal dignity and sang very sweetly....with violin obbligatos by Keith Baird"
  • September 1936 - Rutherglen Eisteddfod - Violin duet, under 18 - Harry Snowden and Keith Baird, first with 90 points
  • September 1936 - Rutherglen Eisteddfod - Violin solo under 14 - Harry Snowden and Keith Baird, joint second with 84 points
  • September 1936 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Violin solo, under 19 years accompanied by pianist of the same age - Keith Baird and Eileen Hardiman, 78 points - Patsy Baird and Eileen Kavanagh, 77 points - "These were both quite pleasing performances"
  • September 1936 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Violin solo, 12 years and under 15 years - Keith Baird, 83 points, Harry Snowden, 82 points - "Keith Baird offered to share his prize with Harry, but after commending his action, Mr Evans said he did not think it would be fair to do so."
  • September 1936 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Vocal solo, girls 10 years and under 12 years - Loo-La-Bye by Winifred Burley - Patsy Baird, first prize with 81 point - "the winner gave a pleasant performance. The song was sung smoothly and the singer had a sweet voice."
  • September 1936 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Recitation, boys or girls under 12 - Nod by Walter de la Mare - Patsy Baird, 84 points
  • September 1936 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod Children's Concert - "Patsy Baird, who has a most easy and pleasant style, gave a violin solo...Particularly pleasing was a violin duet by Patsy and Keith Baird"
  • November 1936 - Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod Annual Meeting - John Nicol Baird elected as a committee member
  • December 1936 - St Eugene's High School, Mount Erin, Wagga Wagga - Annual Concert -  Mazurka by Henry - Patsy Baird, violin
  • December 1936 - St Eugene's High School, Mount Erin, Wagga Wagga - Prizegiving - Violin Grade IV - Patsy Baird


  • May 1937 - St Andrew's Hall, Wagga Wagga - St Andrew's Competition - Violin solo, 16 and under - Keith Baird, 84 points
  • May 1937 - St Andrew's Hall, Wagga Wagga - St Andrew's Competition - Champion violin solo (open) - Keith Baird, second, with 85 points
  • May 1937 - St Andrew's Hall, Wagga Wagga - St Andrew's Competition Final Concert - Violin duet, Harry Snowden and Keith Baird
  • May 1937 - A.M.E.B Violin Grade IV examination with Honours - Patsy Baird
  • September 1937 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Violin solo, under 19 years accompanied by pianist of the same age - Keith Baird, second, with 75 points
  • September 1937 -  Wagga Wagga Eisteddfod - Violin solo, 12 years and under 15 years - Keith Baird, first, with 86 points
  • October 1937 - A.M.E.B Violin Grade II examination with Credit - Keith Baird
  • December 1937 - St Eugene's High School, Mount Erin, Wagga Wagga - Prizegiving - Special Prize for Violin - Patsy Baird
  • December 1937 - St Eugene's High School, Mount Erin, Wagga Wagga - Prizegiving - Theory of Music, Grade V - Keith Baird (credit)
  • December 1937 - St John's Hall, Wagga Wagga - St John's Sunday School Concert - "Schubert's Ave Maria is not the easiest of solos for young violinists, but Keith Baird made light of its difficulties, his Interpretation being marked by accurate fingering and nice clear sweeping bow that resulted in a good quality of tone."
  • December 1937 - St Eugene's Hall, Mount Erin, Wagga Wagga - St Mary's School Concert -"Violin accompaniments were provided to some of the items by Harry Snowden and Keith Baird, these being 'particularly effective in the case of the tableau,"


  • January 1938 St Eugene's School, Wagga Wagga - Sacred Heart Presentation Concert - Pantomime by Moyatt - Patricia Baird
  • April 1938 - St Andrew's Presbyterian Girls' Club Eisteddfod, Wagga Wagga - Champion violin solo, 18 years and under - Patsy Baird, second

July 1937 brought a loss to the family when Edith's mother died in Sydney after she and her husband had recently celebrated their Golden Wedding. "Mrs. J. N. Baird of Brookong Avenue, Wagga...left for Sydney by the express train early on Friday morning." 

The year 1938 saw the Baird family moving from inland Wagga Wagga to the town of Kempsey, fifteen kilometres (nine miles) inland from the coast of New South Wales. This was a journey of nearly 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) which today would take over fourteen hours by train. It probably took longer then. 

John Nicol Baird had become the District Representative for Alfa-Laval milking machines and milk separators. Before they left Wagga Wagga an event was organised for the evening of Thursday 28th July 1938 so that the town could say goodbye to them. This was centred on Mr and Mrs Baird's work with the Church of England. John Nicol Baird had been churchwarden, a member of the church council, president of the Church of England Men's Society (he was given life membership), and superintendent of the Sunday School. He was presented with a "handsome mantel clock". Edith was presented with a handbag. Patsy was given a crystal vase on behalf of fellow scholars and teachers. Keith was given a fountain pen and pencil. 

Life in Kempsey

Mr Baird started work in Kempsey in August 1938 and immediately started advertising heavily in local newspapers. Patricia joined the Kempsey Convent, and in December 1938 appeared in a school concert and prize-giving. She was soprano soloist in The Elfin Call, followed by a demonstration of her skills as a violinist, leading a string quartet in La Serenata

Her third appearance in the concert was again as a violinist, this time accompanied on the piano by her mother. Her name changed from "Patsy" to "Pattie". Was this the conscious effort of a fifteen-year-old to adopt a more "adult" name for herself? 


Mrs Baird, meanwhile, rejoined the Country Women's Association (CWA) in Kempsey and in March 1939 organised and accompanied a community singing session at the branch's tenth anniversary meeting. "Patty Baird also sang, making a great hit with her items." 

St Patrick's Day was marked by a concert at the Catholic Hall, West Kempsey. Patricia played the violin in both the orchestra and a quartet. 

Australia entered the Second World War on 3rd September 1939. Patricia was aged thirteen, Keith was aged seventeen. The days of examinations and competitive festivals seem to have come to an abrupt halt when the family moved to Kempsey. 


In September 1940 the family underwent another shock. Keith was living in Peak Hill, New South Wales, some 700km (435 miles) from Kempsey, fell into a pit at Orange and so serious were his injuries that he was transferred to Lewisham Hospital in Sydney. X-rays revealed serious spinal injuries and a fractured pelvis. His mother rushed to be with him and his father soon followed. 


Although John Nicol Baird's Kempsey-based advertisements for Alfa-Laval continued for some time, the last appeared in September 1941. By 1941, the family had moved much nearer to Sydney and were living at 4 Jarvie Street, Petersham, when Keith enlisted in the Australian Army on 16th January. 


More sadness followed September 1942 when Edith's father, William Charles Crowe, died in Petersham, Sydney. 


 In November 1943, Patricia and her mother returned to Lismore to spend a holiday with friends there. 

War service


Pat enlisted in the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) at Paddington, New South Wales, on 7th March 1944, one day short of her eighteenth birthday. She enlisted using the name her father had registered her with - Edith Lillian Baird. 

She was posted to a section where the Education Officer was Richard Gordon Thew [Born in Ashfield, New South Wales, Australia on 13th July 1900. On 8 June 1968 he became an Ordinary  Member of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to music. He died on 7th December 1972 in New South Wales, Australia.] who happened to be a singing teacher. One night he heard Patricia singing and told her she should make it her career. 

Patricia's time in the AWAS is something of a mystery. Did she have lessons from Richard Thew? When did she drop the violin? A newspaper report does confirm that during her years in the AWAS she spent time in concert parties. 


January 1945 brought happy news to the family when Keith got engaged: 

BAIRD-ARTIS.-The Engagement is announced of Marie, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Artis, of Summer Hill, to Trooper Keith Baird, A.I.F., son of Mr. and Mrs. J. N. Baird, Petersham.

In May 1945 Patricia was in Wagga Wagga once more (presumably she was based there with the AWAS) and competed in the Wagga Talent Quest at the Trades Hall. Sixteen contestants took part and Patricia won with 100 votes, singing One Kiss.

In July Patricia was still in Wagga Wagga and took part in a concert as part of the Red Cross Annual Meeting. 

The end of the Second World War happened the following month when Japan surrendered on 15th August. A new future beckoned to Patricia in the post-war period. 

Post-war concerts and competitions


Pat was demobbed in August 1946 but her whereabouts and activities for the next year are vague.

There are hints in newspapers that she became a typist and had lessons from Richard Thew. It seems likely that she was still living with her parents in Petersham during this period. Whatever she was up to, she emerged a year later as a fully-fledged soprano soloist ready to undertake concert work and more competitions. 


 In August 1947 Patricia was in Sydney, performing for the Wagga Residents' Association with her mother accompanying. A low-key concert much like those she had given in the past. 

Her first formal public concert as a soprano soloist took place on 18th November 1947 at the Presbyterian Hall, Wollongong, New South Wales, with the newly-formed Illawarra Singers. Richard Thew was the accompanist, so probably suggested Patricia for the performance: 

Patricia Baird used her flexible voice with excellent judgment and understanding and in her second group she showed dainty musical colour and fine restraint.

Her first concert outside New South Wales was a Tasmanian performance with the Hobart Philharmonic Society of Handel's Messiah on 9th December 1947. Excerpts were broadcast on station 7ER [Now known as ABC Radio Hobart]. The tenor soloist was Ronald Dowd, another pupil of Richard Thew, who went on to have a successful career with Sadler's Wells Opera before returning to Australia: 

Patricia Baird, Melbourne soprano, in recitatives and arias, revealed vocal artistry both tonally beautiful and flexible. In diminished volume, constriction marred the natural fluency proclaimed in more open passages of song.

The Hobart Mercury remarked: 

Her first trip to Tasmania and her first trip by air anywhere was the experience this week of Patricia Baird, the young Sydney soloist who is here by invitation of the Hobart Philharmonic Society. She made a charming little speech at a reception at the Hobart Town Hall on Tuesday morning, held in honour of the three visiting singers - herself, Ronald Dowd, and Robert Payne. About 30 members of Hobart's musical circles were there and enjoyed the "cuppa" provided by the Lord Mayor (Air Osborne) and the Lady Mayoress (Mrs Rust). The floral decorations in the reception room, which included some of the finest Iceland poppies I have ever seen, brought much comment.

After the excitement of her trip to Hobart, Patricia's concerts assumed their more low-key nature. Articles mention her radio appearances but these seem not to be recorded in the pages of the newspapers. 

  • 12th December 1947 - Hurstville Presbyterians' Christmas Concert, with Richard Thew
  • 1st January 1948 - Grand Scottish Concert, Sydney Town Hall (part of the Highland Gathering), with Ronald Dowd


  • 28th March 1948 (Easter Sunday) - St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Macquirie Street, Sydney
  • 8th August 1948 - Epping Congregational Church, Sydney - The Creation by Joseph Haydn
  • 21st November 1948 - Pitt Street Congregational Church, Sydney - Sons of Jubal - special music
  • 15th December 1948 - Parramatta Rotary Club Christmas Party and Ladies' Night


On 17th May 1949 Patricia and some friends appeared the Western Monarch Theatre, Gilgandra. This was the first of several concerts given by her concert party to raise funds for the "Far West Scheme" to benefit hospital services for young people. It was well received:
A well known concert stage soprano, Miss Baird spent five years in the services, and was included in concert parties since her discharge she has become very popular in Sydney as a concert artist... Concert and Radio Personality... To a music-starved audience, the full rich soprano voice of Miss Baird was a delight, and her songs, familiar though they might be, were presented with such clarity and colour that they retained all the charm of novelty. Even the old favourite, Because, became a new song.
The concert was repeated on 27th May 1949 at Guyra: 
Patricia Baird's bracket of songs captivated the audience. The finely presented sketch, High Finance, with artists Patricia Baird, Lawrence Haines and Sid Coleman had the crowd in fits of laughter.
On 28th August 1949 Patricia returned to the Pitt Street Congregational Church, Sydney to perform in The Creation by Joseph Haydn.

September 1949 brought the City of Sydney Eisteddfod. Patricia entered and won the lyric soprano championship, the Dame Nellie Melba Memorial Trophy (Champion of Champions) and the British Art Song Silver Shield. 

Her ambition is to sing and study overseas, and she has already sung as soloist with the Hobart and Launceston Philharmonic Societies in the Messiah, and is well known to radio audiences in Sydney.

On 5th October 1949 she performed at the Rockdale Town Hall for the St George Music Club's musicale. This was a concert of prizewinners from the recent Sydney Eisteddfod and it brought her into contact with the winner of the winner of the open piano championship, and the Women's Weekly piano scholarship - a young Richard Bonynge. 

December 1949 saw another outing for the Far West Scheme Concert Party, this time to Mudgee. They raised £190.

At some time in 1949 Patricia was examined for the Licentiate in Music, Australia, diploma of the Australian Music Examinations Board, a highly prestigious award, with the national pass rate being around 10% of candidates. She was successful, and thereafter was able to use the post-nominal letters "L.Mus.A.". 


In February 1950 Patricia made a return visit to Pitt Street Congregational Church in Sydney were she sang for the 11.50am Communion service on Sunday 5th. Although the newspaper reports make it look as if her appearances at the church were irregular, it's possible that this was actually a regular job every Sunday. 

Early April brought another visit to Wollongong for the 58th Musicale at the Methodist Hall. Pat shared the stage with the pianist Dorothy White. The concert was divided into five sections with Miss White performing alone in sections one, three and five, and accompanying Pat in sections two and four. The newspaper review gives us an idea of the sort of programme that Patricia was putting together: 

Patricia Baird had a particularly beautiful natural voice which would, perhaps, have been shown to better advantage under different circumstances; Her strong sense of the dramatic was shown in the operatic numbers, 'Mimi's Farewell' by Puccini, and 'Daughter of the Regiment,' by Donizetti. Miss Baird's second bracket consisted of Michael Head's 'Gaiete and Orion', 'Summer' by Martin Shaw and 'Do not go my love' by Hageman.

The following day (Palm Sunday) she was back in Sydney for a performance of Dvorak's Stabat Mater at the Rockdale Congregational Church. 

In the second half of the month Patricia made her way to Goulburn, 120 miles (95 km) from home, for the 1950 Eisteddfod. The First Prize for the Operatic Aria was worth £100 and sponsored jointly by Pacific Chenille-Craft Pty., Ltd., and the Goulburn City Council. Patricia won the Lyric Soprano Solo on 19th April ("a very finished singer with a beautiful voice"), and went on to win both the £100 Chenille Aria, and the Champion of Champions: 

Miss Patricia Baird who crowned her long list of successes at the Goulburn Eisteddfod by winning the Pacific Chenille aria contest from twenty six other competitors hails from Sydney, and has studied with Mr. Richard Thew. Her previous wins at the Eisteddfod were the lyric soprano solo, sacred solo. oratorio, and the 2GN radio section. Miss Baird will sing at the Eisteddfod concert this evening and this is a rare opportunity for the people of Goulburn to hear an artist who is destined to become an outstanding singer throughout Australia and overseas. Her first singing experience was in the A.W.A.S. during the war where she met Mr. Thew, who immediately became interested in the possibilities of her voice, and on demobilisation, Miss Baird commenced her studies, with him. Miss Baird's previous successes include the 2SM Radio Contest, 1949; Melba Trophy (champion of champions) city of Sydney Eisteddfod 1949, and the Trophy for British Art Song at the same Eisteddfod. A committee has been formed to send Miss Baird to England to continue her studies early in 1951, and she will worthily represent her country and continue the long line of outstanding artists, who have preceded her.

The Mobil Quest for 1950 was one of three big competitions in which Patricia competed that year. This was only the second year that the competition had been run - fourth place in 1949 had gone to Joan Sutherland. The First Prize was worth £1,000, Second Prize £300 and Third Prize £150.  Winning the competition would help substantially with the costs of Patricia travelling to Europe to continue her studies. This was a nationwide competition which used radio as its medium. 

There were eighteen heats, all broadcast on a Friday at 8.30 p.m. Australian Eastern Time, and each consisting of three singers. The winner of each heat then faced one of six semi-finals, and the winner of each semi-final went forward to the Grand Final in Melbourne Town Hall on 6th September. 

The Sixth Heat was won by baritone Donald Cameron, the younger brother of baritone Joan Cameron with whom Patricia was to sing two year later in the recording of Merrie England. Patricia was in Heat Ten and was runner-up to Beryl Jones, a coloratura soprano. 

The Grand Final was won by Joan Sutherland in front of an audience of 3,000.

In June 1950 Patricia was in Illawarra to compete in the Illawarra Eisteddfod's £100 Aria Competition. She went on to win against stiff local competition and was described by the adjudicators as "outstanding": 

He stated her verbal emphasis and colour were good, while she made many of her words 'live.' She had excellent phrasing, an even voice and her runs were extremely flexible. He awarded her 87 marks for her first aria and 88 for her second. Warmest ovation for the whole Eisteddfod was given to Miss Patricia Baird of Petersham. Clapping continued long after she had left the stage.

Patricia went on to win the Oratorio class in the same competition:

 excellent voice with good shape, atmosphere a trifle forced, good climax

In late September came the news that Patricia was one of twenty-four soloists to reach the semi-final of the Sydney Sun Aria Competition at the Sydney Conservatorium. The semi-final, to select eight soloists was the following evening. Patricia got through and was awarded Third Prize (£50) in the final. The winner was a 19-year-old called June Gough from Broken Hill. She used her £300 prize together with the money raised by her home town to travel to London in 1952 and had an international career under the name of June Bronhill. 

A month later Patricia was in Victoria for the finals of the Melbourne Sun Aria Competition. She came third with an "honourable mention." 

On 14th October 1950 she was the soprano soloist (Ronald Dowd was the tenor) with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society's broadcast performance of Verdi's Requiem at the Melbourne Town Hall, conducted by Eugene Goossens.  "A truly magnificent performance," Goossens wrote across her programme.  

Christmas 1950 was a busy time for Patricia with no fewer than seven performances of Messiah including the Christmas Eve concert in Sydney Town Hall. 

While Patricia's success in the smaller competitions, and the cash prizes she won, must have been useful for her, it was her success in the three big competitions which were ultimately more significant. So the year 1951 was to be a busy and important one for Patricia. 


Patricia Baird rehearsing for "A Masked Ball", 1951

In March and April 1951 she sang Amelia in Verdi's A Masked Ball (Il Ballo in Maschera) with the New South Wales National Opera at the Tivoli Theatre in Sydney. June Gough (Bronhill) was also in the cast. 

In June 1951 Patricia was again taking competing in the Mobil Quest. This time she was in Heat Eleven broadcast on Monday 4th June. She performed "Can It Be He" ("Ah fors' è lui.") from Verdi's La Traviata and Eric Coates's Green Hills of Somerset. Her co-competitors were jointly awarded First Prize with Patricia getting Second Prize and a recommendation from the adjudicators that she should have a place in the semi-finals. 

That same month saw another broadcast performance of the Verdi Requiem in Melbourne Town Hill, this time conducted by Joseph Post - "Lovely singing came from the soprano Patricia Baird, particularly in the unaccompanied Libera Me." 

On 19th August it was Patricia's turn to compete in the Mobil Quest fourth semi-final, singing Rossini's Una Voce Poco Fa. The semi-final was won by Margaret Nisbett, one of the joint winners of the initial eleventh heat. Margaret went on to win the £1,000 First Prize in the Grand Final in Melbourne on 5th September, and in 1954 studied, along with her husband Jon Weaving, with Patricia's own teacher Dino Borgioli in London. 

By August 1951 the funding was in place for Patricia to go to study in London and it was announced in the press that she would leave Australia on 13th November. Before that, however, was the City of Sydney Eisteddfod Sun Aria Competition of 1951. Patricia made it through to the semi-final on 26th September at the Sydney Conservatorium. The Sun Aria Prize for 1951 was ultimately won by Angelina Arena. 

Patricia was chosen to be the soprano soloist in the first Australian performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Eugene Goossens on 3rd October. - "Patricia Baird's soprano seemed to miss the Mahlerian boyishness so necessary." Vincent Wallace's opera Maritana was broadcast from Sydney in an hour-long concert performance on 19th October with a team of soloists including Patricia and the ABC Sydney Orchestra conducted by Clive Douglas. 

Even at this late stage, Patricia continued to compete in eisteddfods, presumably for the cash the prizes could bring her. In the Bathurst Eisteddfod on 21st October she won the Second Prize of £50 in the Aria Competition. October brought a return visit to Pitt Street Congregational Church for Haydn's The Creation, conducted by Richard Thew. 

Patricia's farewell concert at the Sydney Conservatorium

Patricia's farewell concert was given at the Conservatorium in Sydney on Wednesday 7th November at 8.15 p.m. Accompanied by her teacher, Richard Thew, she sang pieces by Mozart, Brahms, Franz, Wolf, Rossini and Verdi. A review in the Sydney Morning Herald gives some clues as to her failure to win in the larger competitions, and the areas she needed to work on once she reached London.

There was much tasteful, well-considered and attractive singing in a recital by soprano Patricia Baird at the Conservatorium last night. Miss Baird (who plans to continue her career abroad) is very well equipped in the primary necessities of singing and in some of the secondary considerations, too, for last night the points of phrasing and expression were often most carefully designed and executed. But there is still an impression of immaturity about her work, A general preoccupation with the technical side of expression and a diffidence in emotional colouring makes even a well-wrought performance like her Willow Song from "Otello" seem a little cold. Apart from this lack of dramatic colour and conviction, Miss Baird has very little to worry about technically. Her tone is sweet and flexible, a little inclined to excessive tremolo and a little hard at the top of her range, but quite capable of the brilliant coloratura of Rossini's "Una Voce" and the delicate intimacy of Wolf's "In the Shadow of My Tresses."

A few days later, she left for England on the 26-year-old RMS Otranto. Her departure was noted by "Margaret's Column" in the Illawarra Daily Mercury: 

MRS. COWBURN and Mrs. Witte went down by train to say 'Au Revoir' to Mrs. Hatfield. Some of the other members did the trip by car. The two ladies mentioned, took the ferry that accompanies the departing ships. They tell me that Patricia Baird (we have seen her artistry down here) sailed on the 'Otranto', too. Some of her friends from the Conservatorium were on the ferry, and their singing of 'Now is the Hour' was certainly appreciated by the Wollongong countrywomen, if not heard by Patricia Baird.

Patricia was not to set foot in Australia again for eleven years.


Patricia wasn't the only musician to leave Sydney at that time. 

Eugene Goossens, in Australia as conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, was off to conduct in South Africa, then Belgium (his family were Belgian) and London before returning to Australia in March 1952. But Goossens was travelling by air in a Qantas Constellation. 

The P&O liner RMS Otranto docked in Southampton 18th December 1951. The year of the Festival of Britain was coming to an end and Christmas was fast approaching. In the recent General Election the Conservatives had come back into power with Winston Churchill as Prime Minister.

Patricia's first Christmas in the northern hemisphere was a far cry from the sunshine of Australia, London was plagued by thick smoky fogs, still depended on coal, and showed the damaged inflicted during the Blitz. Meat, sugar and sweets were still rationed.


Arriving in London she began her studies with Dino Borgiol and on 10th March 1952 Pat made her first broadcast for the BBC in Souvenirs of Music with Robert Busby conducting the Augmented BBC Revue Orchestra. This was to be the first of many broadcasts on the Light Programme and Home Service between 1952 and 1961. 

How she came by this work it unclear, but  her work with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation must have stood her in good stead. Perhaps she was provided with a letter of recommendation? Did Goossens help her with introductions when he arrived in London? 

March 1952

  • Monday 10 March 12.00 SOUVENIRS OF MUSIC - Augmented BBC Revue Orchestra (Leader, David Paget) Conductor, Robert Busby with Patricia Baird (soprano) 

  • Tuesday 11 March 17.30 RENDEZVOUS - Commonwealth artists entertain Hugh Hastings, The Hassan Five Patricia Baird (accompanied by Geoffrey Parsons) BBC Revue Orchestra, conductor, Robert Busby. Introduced by Peter King. Produced by David Miller 

Meanwhile, Eugene Goossens returned to Australia after his four month tour abroad. He told the press that five Australian singers were making a success in London: Sylvia Fisher, John Cameron, Elsie Morison, Joan Sutherland - and Patricia Baird. 

April 1952

  • Tuesday 8 April 20.00 SONG OF VIENNA - The life story of Franz Lehar - Episode 2 - 'The Rage of the Town. Devised by Kenneth Pakeman, Written by Maurice Gorham. The Players: Dermot Palmer, Elaine Dundy, Mary Wimbush. Roger Delgado, Richard Hurndall, Gladys Spencer The Singers: Patricia Baird, Kyra Vayne, John Cameron, Rowland Jones, BBC Opera Chorus (Trained by Alan G. Melville), BBC Opera Orchestra (Leader, John Sharpe) Conductor, Stanford Robinson. Produced by Kenneth Pakeman and Archie Campbell
  • Friday 25 April 19.00 First House MELODY FROM THE STARS - Patricia Baird, Jimmy Young, Kathran Oldfield, Ereach Riley, The Joe Saye Trio. Augmented BBC Revue Orchestra, conducted by Robert Busby. Producer, Jimmy Grant 

In 1952 Patricia joined the Arts Council's "Grand Opera Group". This was a group formed in 1950 comprising four or five soloists (one acting as compère) with a pianist which toured the UK performing specially chosen programmes of excerpts, both in ensemble and aria, which were introduced with an explanation of their dramatic significance within the story of the opera.

  • Sunday May 16th Eisteddfod Marquee, Cardigan. The Treorchy Male Voice Choir was asked to perform at the Semi-National Eisteddfod Concert. Also on stage was soprano Patricia Baird, John Cameron (bass) and Brychan Powell (tenor). The accompanist was Charles Clements

June 1952

  • Friday 13 June 17.30 BAND CALL - BBC Variety Orchestra, conductor, Paul Fenoulhet with Patricia Baird and Mark Pasquin. Introduced by John Webster 

July 1952

On 3rd July 1952, Patricia's father died in the family home at 4 Jarvie Avenue, Petersham. While she was probably told of his death by telegram, returning home for the funeral would have been impossible. 

  • Friday 18 July 21.15 John Watt introduces SONGS FROM THE SHOWS - Melodies from Theatreland over the years with Helen Clare, Jack Cooper, Eve Becke, David Hughes, Patricia Baird and the Grosvenor Singers. BBC Revue Orchestra conducted by Robert Busby. Produced by Michael North 
  • Friday 25 July 21.15 John Watt introduces SONGS FROM THE SHOWS - Melodies from Theatreland over the years with Helen Clare, Jack Cooper, Eve Becke, David Hughes, Patricia Baird and the Grosvenor Singers. BBC Variety Orchestra conducted by Paul Fenoulhet. Produced by Michael North 

August 1952 

  • Friday 1 August 21.15 John Watt introduces SONGS FROM THE SHOWS - Melodies from Theatreland over the years with Helen Clare, Jack Cooper, Eve Becke, David Hughes, Patricia Baird and the Grosvenor Singers. BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Produced by Michael North 
  • Friday 8 August 21.15 John Watt introduces SONGS FROM THE SHOWS - Melodies from Theatreland over the years with Helen Clare, Jack Cooper, Eve Becke, David Hughes, Patricia Baird and the Grosvenor Singers. BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Produced by Michael North 
  • Friday 15 August 21.15 John Watt introduces SONGS FROM THE SHOWS - Melodies from Theatreland over the years with Helen Clare, Jack Cooper, Eve Becke, David Hughes, Patricia Baird, Sydney Keith and the Grosvenor Singers. BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Produced by Michael North 
  • Friday 22 August 21.15 John Watt introduces SONGS FROM THE SHOWS - Melodies from Theatreland over the years with Helen Clare, Jack Cooper, Eve Becke, David Hughes, Patricia Baird and the Grosvenor Singers. BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Produced by Michael North 
  • Friday 29 August 21.15 John Watt introduces SONGS FROM THE SHOWS - Melodies from Theatreland over the years with Helen Clare, Jack Cooper, Eve Becke, David Hughes, Patricia Baird and the Grosvenor Singers. BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Produced by Michael North 

September 1952

  • Friday 5 September 21.15 John Watt introduces SONGS FROM THE SHOWS - with Helen Clare,  Jack Cooper, Eve Becke, David Hughes, Patricia Baird and the Grosvenor Singers. BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet.       Produced by Michael North 
  • Friday 12 September 21.15 John Watt introduces SONGS FROM THE SHOWS - with Helen Clare, Jack Cooper, Eve Becke, David Hughes, Patricia Baird and the Grosvenor Singers. BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Produced by Michael North 
  • Friday 19 September 21.15 John Watt introduces SONGS FROM THE SHOWS - Melodies from Theatreland over the years with Helen Clare, Jack Cooper, Eve Becke, David Hughes, Patricia Baird and the Grosvenor Singers. BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Produced by Michael North 
  • Friday 26 September 21.15 John Watt Introduces SONGS FROM THE SHOWS - Melodies from Theatreland over the years with Helen Clare, Jack Cooper, Eve Becke, David Hughes, Patricia Baird and the Grosvenor Singers. BBC Variety Orchestra conductor. Paul Fenoulhet. Produced by Michael North 

December 1952

  • Tuesday 9 December 17.30 RENDEZVOUS - Commonwealth artists entertain - Patricia Baird, John Cazabon, Bob Freeman, John Hauxvell. BBC Revue Orchestra (Leader, David Paget). Introduced by Aidan MacDermot. Produced by David Miller 
  • Saturday 20 December 16.00 BAND CALL - BBC Variety Orchestra (Leader, George Deason) conductor, Paul Fenoulhet, with Patricia Baird and Randall Stevens. Introduced by John Webster 
  • Saturday 27 December 14.00 BAND CALL - BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet, with Patricia Baird and Denis Catlin. Introduced by John Webster

January 1953

  • Saturday 17 January 20.00 THE STAR SHOW - Introduced by Joe Linnane.       Tonight in order of broadcasting: Leslie Adams, Karoly Szenassy, Johnnie Brandon, Patricia Baird, Gladys Cooper and Angela Baddeley, Ian Wallace, Elsie Waters and Doris Waters. The George Mitchell Choir. BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Produced by Tom Ronald and Michael North 
  • Friday 30 January 12.25 MIDDAY MUSIC-HALL - Michael Miles introduces The Four in A-Chord, Tony (Silly Thing) Scott, Professional Protégés Ted Andrews and his Canadian Singing Sisters, Kitty Bluett Your Favourite Musical Comedy - Patricia Baird and John Hauxvell, Cardew Robinson. BBC Revue Orchestra. Produced by Trafford Whitelock 

May 1953

  • Sunday 17 May 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of our Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Eve Boswell (South Africa), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), George Browne (West Indies). Introduced by Robert Easton (United Kingdom) with The Johnston Singers and the BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Producer, Donald MacLean 
  • Sunday 24 May 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Eve Boswell (South Africa), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), George Browne (West Indies) Introduced by Robert Easton (United Kingdom) with The Johnston Singers and the BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Producer, Donald MacLean 
  • Saturday 30 May 20.00 VARIETY PLAYHOUSE - with Vic Oliver as host and Master of Ceremonies, who each week invites stars of the entertainment world. This week, in order of broadcasting: Tollefsen, Hermione Gingold, Frederick Sharp and Patricia Baird, Max Wall, Maurice Chevalier, The George Mitchell Choir, Augmented BBC Revue Orchestra conductor, Harry Rabinowitz. Musical adviser, Vic Oliver. Continuity by Carey Edwards. Production by Tom Ronald 
  • Sunday 31 May 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Eve Boswell (South Africa), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), George Browne (West Indies) with The Johnston Singers. Introduced by Robert Easton (United Kingdom) and the BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Producer, Donald MacLean 

June 1953

  • Monday 1 June 11.55 VARIETY PLAYHOUSE - A repeat of the broadcast on 30th May. 2 June 1953 - Coronation Day
  • Sunday 14 June 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Eve Boswell (South Africa), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), George Browne (West Indies), The Johnston Singers (United Kingdom). Introduced by Robert Easton (United Kingdom). Malcolm Lockyer and his Orchestra. Producer, Donald MacLean 
  • Sunday 21 June 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Eve Boswell (South Africa), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), George Browne (West Indies), The Johnston Singers (United Kingdom). Introduced by Robert Easton (United Kingdom). BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Producer, Donald MacLean 
  • Sunday 28 June 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Eve Boswell (South Africa), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), George Browne (West Indies), The Johnston Singers (United Kingdom). Introduced by Robert Easton (United Kingdom). BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Producer, Donald MacLean 

July 1953

  • Sunday 5 July 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Eve Boswell (South Africa), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), George Browne (West Indies), The Johnston Singers (United Kingdom). Introduced by Robert Easton (United Kingdom). BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Producer, Donald MacLean. (Eve Boswell is in 'The Show of Shows' at the Opera House Theatre, Blackpool) 
  • Sunday 12 July 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Eve Boswell (South Africa), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), George Browne (West Indies), The Johnston Singers (United Kingdom). Introduced by Robert Easton (United Kingdom). BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Producer, Donald MacLean 
  • Sunday 19 July 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Eve Boswell (South Africa), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), George Browne (West Indies), The Johnston Singers (United Kingdom). Introduced by Robert Easton (United Kingdom). BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Producer, Donald MacLean 
  • Sunday 26 July 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Patricia Baird (Australia), Marion Williams (Nigeria), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), George Browne (West Indies), The Johnston Singers (U.K.). Introduced by Robert Easton (U.K.).       BBC Variety Orchestra conductor. Paul Fenoulhet. Script by Jimmy Grafton.       Produced by Donald MacLean 

August 1953

  • Sunday 2 August 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Marion Williams (Nigeria), Chester Harriott and Vic Evans (West Indies), The Johnston Singers (U.K.). Guest, Patricia Howard (Australia). Introduced by Edmund Hockridge (Canada). BBC Variety Orchestra conductor, Paul Fenoulhet. Script by Jimmy Grafton. Produced by Donald MacLean 
  • Wednesday 5 August 20.00 THE LEISURE HOUR - A radio diversion for the whole family Informally introduced by Rex Palmer. This week you meet: Betty Marsden, Robb Wilton in 'Councillor Muddlecombe, J.P.', Bransby Williams, 'Midge's Choice' - Wilson Midgley talks about new books he has enjoyed reading, and Beverley Nichols, Jill Balcon, and Francis de Wolff present scenes from them. Leisure Serenade with Patricia Baird. A Wandering Minstrel with John Cameron and Alan Paul at the piano. Louis Voss and his Orchestra provide the music. Incidental music composed by Alan Paul. Production by Alfred Dunning and Richard Keen 
  • Sunday 9 August 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Marion Williams (Nigeria), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), The N.Z.-ers (New Zealand), The Johnston Singers (United Kingdom). Introduced by Robert Easton (United Kingdom.) Louis Voss and his Orchestra. Script written by Jimmy Grafton. Produced by Donald MacLean 
  • Wednesday 12 August 20.00 THE LEISURE HOUR - A radio diversion for the whole family informally introduced by Rex Palmer. This week you meet: Betty Marsden, Robb Wilton in ' 'Councillor Muddlecombe, J.P.', Bransby Williams, 'Midge's Choice' - Wilson Midgley talks about new books he has enjoyed reading and Molly Rankin, Edna Romney, Denise Bryer, Warren Stanhope, Harold Rees , David Spenser and Charles E. Stidwill present scenes from them. Leisure Serenade with Patricia Baird. A Wandering Minstrel with John Cameron and Alan Paul at the piano. Max Jaffa and the Leisure Hour Players provide the music. Incidental music composed by Alan Paul. Production by Alfred Dunning and Richard Keen. (Betty Marsden is appearing in 'Airs On A Shoestring' at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London) 
  • Sunday 16 August 14.15 COMMONWEALTH OF SONG - Music from four corners of the Commonwealth of Nations. Patricia Baird (Australia), Marion Williams (Nigeria), Edmund Hockridge (Canada), The N.Z.-ers (New Zealand), The Johnston Singers (United Kingdom). Introduced by Robert Easton (United Kingdom). Louis Voss and his Orchestra. Script written by Jimmy Grafton. Produced by Donald MacLean. (Edmund Hockridge is in 'Carousel' at the Grand Theatre, Leeds) 
  • Wednesday 19 August 20.00 THE LEISURE HOUR - A radio diversion for the whole family introduced by Rex Palmer. This week you meet: Ann Lancaster, Robb Wilton in ‘Councillor Muddlecombe, J.P.’, Bransby Williams, ‘Midge's Choice’ - Wilson Midgley talks about new books he has enjoyed reading and Robin Bailey and Molly Lawson present scenes from them. Leisure Serenade with Patricia Baird. A Wandering Minstrel with John Cameron and Alan Paul at the piano. Max Jaffa and the Leisure Hour Players provide the music. Incidental music composed by Alan Paul. Production by Alfred Dunning and Richard Keen

Patricia's home in London for the next four years was a shared flat in Cranley Gardens, South Kensington. She spent a year in Flat 2C and then moved into 2D. 


Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th March Central Hall, Chester - City of Chester Male Voice Choir Festival Patricia Baird, Paul Asciak, Michael Langdon. Maelor Richards (Accompanist) 


26th and 28th June 1957 - Welsh National Opera at Sadler's Wells - Nabucco (Abigail / Abigaille - debut on the London stage) (The Times):

Miss Baird is certainly an acquisition to opera. She has a bring, strong, agile soprano voice, and a clear flowing line; she can negotiate florid music with some accuracy, and should become adept in fioritura before long, since the voice is cleanly focused. Her singing is naturally dramatic in manner, though of stagecraft she is still innocent. She made much of a bravura role; it is no surprise to learn she comes from Australia 


After a whirlwind romance of only four months, in August 1957 Patricia married a British engineer, William Shackell, at St Marylebone Register Office in London. They had decided to marry only one week before. 


In 1958 she was in the Carl Rosa Company's production of Verdi's Falstaff at Sadler's Well as Mistress Ford, being described by "The Stage" as "safe and sure". 

Later the same year she appeared with the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff in Pagliacci


  • London Telephone Directory, 1961: Patricia Shackell, 4C Leinster Square, W2 
  • Register of Electors, 1962: Patricia and William Shackell, Flat C, 4/5 Leinster Square, W2 

Return to Australia


In early January 1962 Patricia left Tilbury Docks on P&O line SS Iberia bound for Sydney, travelling via Gibraltar (18th January), Suez, Aden, Colombo, Fremantle, Melbourne and Adelaide. 

On 13th February the ship docked in Sydney. Patricia had travelled alone and in First Class. This would not have been cheap. She gave her destination as her mother's address - No 1, Kara Flats, 30 Orpington Street, Ashfield, Sydney, and her name as Mrs Patricia Fairlie Shackelle. The spelling of her surname may be an error on the part of P&O. 

  • 24 March 1962 - 14 April 1962 - Theatre Royal, Adelaide, SA, Falstaff / Don Giovanni / La Traviata


By February 1963 Patricia had moved to Canberra where she advertised that she was conducting auditions for students for her forthcoming series of classes. Her three advertisements in the Canberra Times show that she had gained two professional diplomas: the Licentiate in Music, Australia (L. Mus. A.) and the Licentiate of Trinity College London (L.T.C.L). 


By September 1964 Pat was back in London.


1965 and after

On 19 November 1965, in London, Pat married her second husband, Fred. Later in life they returned to Australia. 

Fred died in 2007 and Pat stayed in Australia even though she said didn't enjoy living there and would have preferred to return to the UK. 

This was the point at which I was able to make contact with her through her cousin. In spite of her disabilities her memory was perfect and she remembered her work in the UK in the 1950s. 

Patricia Baird died on 23rd July 2015 in a nursing home in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. 

WILLIAMS Patricia Fairlie (nee Baird) 6.3.1926 - 23.7.2015 Loved wife of Fred (deceased). Fond aunt to Margaret. A Service for Patricia will be held in its entirety in the Ann Wilson Chapel, corner Barrenjoey Road and Darley Street, Mona Vale on Friday, July 31, 2015 at 2.00pm. Ann Wilson Funerals An Australian Company 9971 4224
Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on July 29, 2015