Tuesday, 3 November 2015

One historic piece of sheet music and a special event tomorrow in Heaton Mersey

Looking at the score for the First Manchester March is to be reminded of how I wish I could read music and play an instrument because I have yet to come across a recording of this piece.

It was composed for the First Manchester Rifles Bazaar by Dan Godfrey whose father and son were also musical composers.

Now I can’t be sure of the date.

I know that Lieut-Colonel Bridgford was in command from 1867 to 1902 and a bazaar was held in  the April of 1904.

That said I bet there will be someone who knows.

The Manchester Rifles had been formed at a meeting in the Star Hotel on Deansgate in May 1859 and within a year had a compliment of 900 men.

Its headquarters were at Stretford Road and in 1888 under the “reorganisation scheme the battalion lost its distinctive title of the First Manchester Rifle Volunteers and became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.”*

The 1904 bazaar had been  held to “clear off a debt on the headquarters in Stretford Road, extend the headquarters, to further equip the battalion, and improve the details of the mobilization scheme.”*

It’s odd now to think that a unit of the British army was reliant on voluntary contributions but the First Manchester’s were part of the Volunteer Force which was a citizen army of part time rifle, artillery and engineer corps created as a popular movement in 1859.**

The decision to authorise the creation of such units was published on May 12 of that year and First Manchester’s were formed just eight days later.

All of which makes the sheet music a fascinating item and one that with more research might reveal its date.

I suppose it could have been produced any time between 1862 and 1902 and might well have been the work of Dan Godfrey or his son Sir Dan Godfrey both of whom composed military music.

That said I am looking forward to seeing the original which will be on display as part of a special presentation at St John’s parish church in Heaton Mersey tomorrow at 2pm.

The event has been organised by old friend David Harrop who tells me that along with the sheet music there will a large number of items from his collection of memorabilia from both world wars and the history of the Post Office.

Pictures; sheet music for the First Manchester March, date unknown from the collection of David Harrop

*The 2nd V.B.M.R. BAZAAR, the Manchester Guardian April 12, 1904

** Volunteer Force, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteer_Force_(Great_Britain)

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