The History of The ChoirWith grateful thanks to David Hewitt
The first known record of Blackpool Male Voice Choir (BMVC) is in 1911 when, at the Blackpool Musical Festival in October 1911, it was said by the judge, Dr McNaught, that choir members had ‘sung with fair tone but [been] very full in the upper parts. Pace was good, but the attack showed straining, as though they were pumping their bikes.’ To have been in a position to have performed at this level suggests that Blackpool Male Voice Choir was formed some time prior to October 1911.
In June 1913, the BMVC was placed second at Lytham Music Festival, behind Blackpool Glee and Madrigal Society. In October of the same year, it would come first at Blackpool Musical Festival and then accompany the German film Czernowska at the Royal Pavilion cinema on Rigby Road. In January 1914, the BMVC performed at a special ‘married men’s tea’ given by the Blackpool Baptist Tabernacle in Springfield Road.
Another concert took place at the King Edward Cinema on 25 October 1914 when the songs Blackpool Male Voice Choir sang included Comrades in Arms. The performance at the King Edward Cinema appears to have been one of the last – or maybe even the very last – given by the BMVC prior to the Great War. The conductor of the choir on that occasion was Mr J.S. Warburton who In September 1914, was appointed Musical Director of the Blackpool Orpheus Choral Society and it was announced that Adelaide Street Vocal Union and the Society would merge with the BMVC.
This joint grouping existed until 1923 when a group of male singers (perhaps including members of the original men’s choir) decided to break away and form a group known as Blackpool Male Choristers based at Raikes Parade Methodist Church. After over fifty years based at Raikes Parade the choir (then under the musical direction of Sid Draper) moved to Springfield Methodist Church in Bispham and several years later assumed the name of their predecessors and Blackpool Male Voice Choir was reborn.
During the latter part of 2001 Rhodes Holmes as Chairman, the Committee and Musical Director were invited to meet with Blackpool Council to organise a Mass Male Voice Choir Concert at the Opera House Blackpool to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. It was a big ask as it involved inviting twelve male voice choirs from the north of England and the Idle of Man. The concert raised £5000 for the Macmillan Unit at Victoria Hospital and other local charities.
The choir rehearsed successfully at Springfield for many years before moving to their current ‘home’ at Poulton Methodist Church in 2021.
The choir presently has 45 members and is under the stewardship and musical direction of Hayley Tarry who became MD in 2014 after many years of direction by men, most recently Ray Buckley, Maldwyn Jenkins, Colin Noble and Phil Berry. Hayley’s musical talent and energy has elevated the choir to a high level of performance. In 2022 BMVC were finalists in the Lancashire Choir of the Year competition and continue to entertain audiences near and far with their very diverse repertoire.
The choir enjoys the patronage of Mr Alfie Boe who grew up in Fleetwood and who worked at the TVR factory in Blackpool before finding success and fame on the world stage. The Mayor of Blackpool is our Honorary President.
The choir is a registered charity and each year seeks to raise funds to support worthy causes including individuals, groups and organisations. They have also taken part in many large fundraising concerts together with other choirs, raising huge donations for Cancer Research, Help for Heroes and local hospices and has included the opportunity of performing at the Royal Albert Hall on more than one occasion.