North Walsham & District Community Archive

"Six Carollers" by Stewart Lowe

A personal recollection of Christmas posted on our Facebook Group on 18th December 2020 from Stewart Lowe.

I’ve been privileged not just to be reminded of our town’s history but also to learn of our history through this group. For many of us Christmas time includes a time of reflection, and I am only too well aware the events of 2020 have made memories of Christmas’s past seem even more cherished.
I have endeavoured to keep my personal reflection centred on what I consider to be a very special annual event taking place in our town for decades (late 1950’s / early 1960’s to early 1990’s), from 11.00 PM to approximately 2.30 AM that many of us know nothing of.
No photos exist, (unless you know different ?), but I’ve come to the conclusion that such an event, possibly unique, should not be completely lost through the mists of time. Somehow, somewhere, it needed to be documented. What better place than this group.

Six Carollers

The buzz of the day was over for the year
And the next day was special as family would share.
The presents were wrapped, under tree they would lay
Though others were still on their way in the sleigh.
The mince pies and carrots had all been left out
for Rudolph & others who’d eat them, no doubt.
But the sounds of this night were the sounds to remember
for they sounded so different this night in December
stretching into the early hours of next morn
when townsfolk were reminded ‘Jesus is born’.
As suddenly out of the depth of the night
came that wonderful carol: ''Silent Night! Holy Night!’’

Six carollers played, though you never knew when
Two cornets, a baritone, a bass & a ten.
Euphonium added additional part
and you knew when they played that they played from the heart.
This annual event had become a tradition
with sound of a silence being part of their mission.
Well they couldn’t go round their town making a row
so the silence they shared was part of their vow
to bring message of Christmas to North Walsham people
that night was so special, but it had to be peaceful.
So out of the depth of the silence, was played
the true Christmas message so meaningfully conveyed.

They started at Eric & Ruby’s, (Grange Court),
where ‘permission’ from Police once a year always sought.
Their route took them next to Rose Meadow, then Furze Hill,
where it wasn’t just old folk they managed to thrill.
And then it was off to see Margaret & Mike.
Well Swafield was not what you call a long hike.
And just like the wise men who followed the star
their journey was silent, (though wise men had no car...).
To church in North Walsham they always would wend
as town’s midnight mass was nearly at end.
As Christians rejoiced as their Saviour was born
six carollers played ‘’Salute Happy Morn”.

But their annual journey had only begun
and emotions on journey were not without fun.
One year Rene Whall made the carollers laugh
when she told them that "Wilf's left his nuts in the hearth”
Fred Hall, Olive Bloom, were just part of the run
George Turner, then Dorry no way could they shun.
They must not forget Audrey, and Ellen & Keith
Where ‘’Softly the Night’’ was played, else they’d get grief!
Then there was the year when they played Royston Green
It snowed as they played. Such a beautiful scene.
The largest of snowflakes gently flowed as they played.
The magic of Christmas hit home as snow laid.

Bluebell Road, Millfield Road, Cosy Corner, Reeves Court
where particular carols so often were sought.
Bacton Road, Happisburgh Road, Station Road, and Kingsway.
Just some of the places six carollers would play.
As years went by carollers had to change crew
They said to the youngsters, ‘’it’s over to you,
to bring Christmas message. It’s such a delight.
Just keep the noise down and play the notes right!
Though people would pass who would seem far too merry
don’t be too concerned, they’ve just been at the sherry”.
So just like the Heavenly Host sang from the sky
the carollers brought news, though they weren’t quite as high...

The names of the families of those who took part
will be well known to many. Now where should we start?
The Bloom’s, Carr’s, and Barry & Adrian Lee,
One Turner, and Lowe’s, of which there were three.
The Salvation Army, a memorable sight
as six carollers played in their street Christmas night.
This mission went on in our town year by year.
So special for many in the town that I share.
A small part of history of North Walsham Town
but I’m glad that I’ve finally written it down.
Fond memories have I that I’ll always embrace
for I played the cornet … and Dad played the Bass

Contributed by Stewart Lowe on 18th December 2020.