My father, the late Stanley James Watts, was a member of the Stevenage Male Voice Choir from about 1962 until 1976 … until illness prevented him from continuing.
The following brief history of the choir, by an unknown author, was written in December 1973:
During the year of 1958, in the British Electric [English Electric? Ed.] factory in Stevenage, a small group of seven men found they had one interest in common with each other, namely they all liked to sing. They therefore decided they would have a go and try and form a choir. This they did in August 1958 and on March 7th, 1959, they had entered and won their first Music Festival at Bedford with thirty-six members. This then was the start of the Stevenage Male Voice Choir.
By November 1959, the number of members had grown to around forty, and the Southend Music Festival was entered and won with distinction and very high praise from the adjudicating panel.
By 1960-61, the membership of the choir grew to eighty-three, but due to redundancies etc. in local factories the number was eventually reduced to around thirty-five, but even now in 1972 three of the original members still sing with the choir, which now has a membership of forty plus.
During the year a considerable number of Festivals have been entered, with great success, from Southend to Mansfield, Cambridge to Cheltenham and Kingston to Birmingham, but the but the highlights of the choir’s career must be an appearance at Victoria Palace in London on the occasion of the R.A.F. 50th Anniversary, before their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duchess of Gloucester.
Then followed an appearance as guests on “Opportunity Knocks” from Doncaster, next a performance with massed choirs at the Festival Hall in the Festival of Brass and Voices. The choir are also past winners of the B.B.C. “Let The People Sing” contest, but to date all the members would agree that their highest honour and achievement was on December 7th 1971 when they were given the honour of singing, on their own, to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother at St. Brides Church in London.
From seven workers in a Stevenage factory in 1958 to singing to Royalty in 1968 and 1971, the members of the present Stevenage Male Voice Choir have a great deal to thank those first seven members for.
The following is a list of events that the choir participated in during the time Stan Watts was a member:
1963 (full date not known): Let The People Sing. (See below)
Saturday 26th October 1963: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir. Autumn Concert. Heathcote School, Shephalbury, Stevenage. (See below)
Friday 12th and Saturday 13th November, 1965: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Seventh Annual Concert. Heathcote School, Stevenage.
Friday 22nd April 1966: The London Borough of Camden’s Libraries and Arts Committee and Opera Viva present a concert performance Rienzi. Town Hall, Euston Road, NW1.
Friday 11th and Saturday 12th November 1966: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Eighth Annual Concert. Heathcote School, Stevenage.
Friday 30th June 1967 Saturday 1st July 1967: Bournville Musical Festival Competitions. Concert Hall, Bournville.
Friday 10th and Saturday 11th November 1967: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Ninth Annual Concert. Barnwell School, Stevenage.
Saturday 24th February 1968: Stevenage Choral and Orchestral Association presents The Creation with The Stevenage Male Voice Choir. St. George’s Church.
Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd November 1968: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Tenth Anniversary Concert. Barnwell School, Stevenage.
1968 (full date not known): RAF Jubilee Festival. Victoria palace, London SW1. (See right).
Saturday 5th April 1969: Challenging Brass and Voices. Royal Festival Hall. (See below).
Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd November 1969 : The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Annual Concert. Stevenage Music Centre.
Saturday 16th May 1970: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Spring Concert. Stevenage Music Centre.
Friday 27th and Saturday 28th November 1970: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Annual Concert. Stevenage Music Centre.
Friday 19th and Saturday 20th November 1971: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Annual Concert. Stevenage Music Centre.
Tuesday 7th December 1971: A Carol for a Future. St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London. (See below).
The Stevenage Male Voice Choir was formed in August 1968, by half a dozen men, working in a Stevenage New Town factory, who joined together because they all enjoyed singing and wanted other people to share their enjoyment.
Since 1958, the number of people in the Choir has increased, and successes in Music Festivals throughout the country have been considerable.12th March 1972: The Ecclesfield Handbell Ringers with the Stevenage Male Voice Choir and the Ladies Choir. Believed to have been St Mary’s Church, Shephall.
19th April 1972: Songs of Praise (recorded). St George’s parish Church, Stevenage.
Saturday 17th March 1973: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir and Cwmbran Male Choir Mount Pleasant Hall, Pontynewydd, Cwmbran.
Tuesday 17th April 1973: Sky’s The Limit (Cambridge Heat). The Guildhall. (See below).
Saturday 9th June 1973: Order of Service for the Festival of Praise to Commemorate the 42nd Anniversary of the Christ Mission of Zodiac and The Greater World Christian Spiritualist League. Friends House, Euston Road, London NW1.
Saturday 8th December 1973: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Annual Concert. The Stevenage Education Centre.
Saturday 4th May 1974: Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage and District Committee for Cancer Relief Concert. Music Centre, Six Hills Way, Stevenage.
Friday 11th and Saturday 12th October 1974: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Annual Concert. The Stevenage Education Centre. (See right).
“The Stout Hearted Men of the Stevenage Male Voice Choir pulled in more than 400 people to their autumn concerts on Friday and Saturday. Clive McCombie, a base baritone from St. Albans, who appeared at the choir’s spring concert, justified his reappearance judging by the audience reaction. The chorus of Clive’s encore The Hippopotamus Song was sung so enthusiastically by the audience that they had clearly enjoyed the programme’s mixture of light opera extracts and popular song classics. The choir’s programme included Ol’ Man River, Bless This House and A Bachelor Gay from the Maid of the Mountains. The concert was conducted by the choir’s new director Terry Clay who was appointed earlier this year.
Stevenage Comet 17.10.74
Saturday 14th December 1974: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Present a Grand Christmas Concert. The Stevenage Education Centre.
Saturday 3rd May 1975: Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage and District Committee for Cancer Relief Concert. Music Centre, Six Hills Way, Stevenage.
Saturday 16th October 1976: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir Annual Concert. Gordon Craig Theatre.
Saturday 12th February 1977: The Stevenage Male Voice Choir in Concert. Education Centre, Six Hills Way, Stevenage.