Newsletter – September/October 2020

Music in Huddersfield

It is very strange this autumn not to have in my hand by now the 2020/21 programme of choral and orchestral concerts in Huddersfield Town Hall. We are so very fortunate to have such high quality concerts in that lovely building. Also I should have the programme of Monday lunchtime organ concerts.

Gordon Stewart who performs on the wonderful Father Willis organ in the Town Hall is performing his series of Monday lunchtime concerts online until the end of the year. His introduction to the the seasons programme – and to the organ – is available on YouTube. Hopefully normal service will resume in January.

Huddersfield has always been a musical town and there is evidence of that in Tolson Museum. There has been an organ builder in the town for many years and there used to be a firm making violins. We have the desk that was used by the famous soprano Mrs Sunderland. She was born in 1819 in Brighouse and legend goes that as a young girl she was heard singing in her garden at home, her talent recognised, and so was subsequently offered free singing lessons.

By the age of 14 she was invited to sing at public events, even getting some remuneration. It is reported that she thought nothing of walking to Huddersfield to sing at an event and then walking back to Brighouse. This sounds very unlikely, but today we forget that, before public transport as we know it today, people thought nothing of walking up to 10 miles a day to work!

The Huddersfield Choral Society was founded in 1836, and Mrs Sunderland, then Susan Sykes joined at its start. She was a favourite soprano soloist with the Choral Society for many years. However her greatest claim to fame is that she performed before Queen Victoria who reportedly called her ‘the Yorkshire Queen of Song’.

In celebration of her talent, on the occasion of her Golden Wedding, the Mrs Sunderland Musical Competition was launched and the first competition took place in April 1889. It has been an annual event since, the next one is February 2021. Over the years thousands of children, adults, choirs and musicians of all types have taken part in this great musical event which last over two weeks.

Tolson Memorial Museum – Friends Programme

As you can just see from the picture the roof is finished, which is really good news. Oakwell Hall has opened and it is hoped that Tolson Museum will be open at the weekends starting in October. Unfortunately we will not be able to restart the Friends Programme of Tea And Cake get togethers this year. I really miss our meetings, however we plan to start again in January. Pam Cooksey, a local historian was to have given us a talk, about the Woodhead Family in May, however she is booked to join us at our first meeting in the new year. That will be the on Wednesday 13th January 2pm.

We have had to cancel the Victorian Christmas Fair. That is really disappointing as it is the highlight of our year and brings a lot of stalls and people into the museum, and income for the Friends. However we are once again planning a Spring Craft Fair which will be on Sunday 28th March 2021. I had a great many enquiries for a stall at the Spring fair that we should have had this year so that augers well for Spring 2021.

About Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle

The Committee of Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle meet once a month to plan the programme for the local community and support the work of the Museum. We look after the Heritage Memorial Garden. We would welcome any one who is interested in working with us.

For more information please contact Volunteer Ann, Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle. m: 07803159506 email: