Holy Trinity Choir, Bingley


March 2021

I must have been in the Holy Trinity Choir for at least four years. I probably joined when I was about eight and left when our family moved to Middlesbrough in 1965. My elder brother, Michael, was also in the choir. Of course, just at the moment my mum perfected the art of ironing ruffs, my voice broke.


Holy Trinity & St Wilfred Choirs c.1963

Click image to enlarge

The choir photograph says so much about the time - probably 1963. Holy Trinity wasn't the parish church of Bingley, yet it had an impressively large choir. And we had a curate. All local boys from the local schools. Largely working class. I have no memory of girls/women being in the choir, they must have been from St Wilfrid, Gilstead.

One of my clearest memories is standing at the back of the church (in the door to/from the vestry?), singing the first verse of 'Once in Royal David's City'. This was presumably at the start of the service of 9 Lessons and Carols. A solo verse before the procession down the knave, accompanied by a communal rendition of the rest of the carol. Of course, that's my memory and memories can play tricks. It doesn't necessarily mean that it happened. However, I was one of the two head choristers and wore a medal with a red ribbon around my neck. Anyway, that's how I remember it.

Another memory is a choir trip to sing in Glaisdale. The previous vicar, Reverend A R Gaunt had moved on to Glaisdale, so I assume he had invited the choir to sing there. I remember a stop in Hutton le Hole and paddling in the stream. Of course, one of the boys fell in. My dad tied some items of clothing to the car aerial to dry off as we drove along.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been part of this choir. I learnt some basic music theory, as well as perfecting the art/skill of psalm singing. It also gave me some knowledge and love of composers like Tallis and Byrd.


A Few Key People

Labelled Choir

A. I think this is Rev. MacLaren's son. I love the picture. Keith Moon at his peak.
B. I think this was the curate.
C. Rev. W H McLaren. A good man. He was at Holy Trinity 1960 - 1965.
D. My brother, Michael.
E. The Choirmaster. John Hammond I think. Inspiring.
F. My good friend, David Ohr.
G. Me.

St Paul's Cathedral

Buckingham Palace

A. Buckingham Palace

Changing at St Paul's

B. St Paul's

Outside St Paul's

C. St Paul's

One of the great opportunities the choir gave us was to sing in some great cathedrals. In 1964/65 David Ohr and I represented Holy Trinity at an RSCM Festival of Choirs at St Paul's Cathedral. Other than my memory, the three photos above are the only evidence that it happened. Hundreds of church choir members from around the U.K. were involved. My parents took us and it was in the days when it was relatively easy to drive around London. I have no idea where we stayed, but it's good to see that I wore full school uniform (Bingley Grammar) when I wasn't in the choirboy gear. Nice shorts David.

Blackpool Afternoon

D. Blackpool

Songs of Praise

E. Songs of Praise

Michael & John Allen

F. Brothers


D. Blackpool Afternoon

I went on two RSCM residential courses at Rossall School in Fleetwood. These were held over the Easter holidays and lasted for 5 days I think. Again, hundreds of choirboys and men. All day rehearsing anthems, hymns and psalms. Wednesday afternoon was free time I think. Four of us walked along to Blackpool. Then we walked back. Life in the fast lane. Photo D shows the other three. Nice shorts David.

E. Songs of Praise

When I was a boy there were only two TV channels, so Songs of Praise was a big event. In 1963 it came to Bingley and was recorded at Bingley Parish Church on 5 November. Bonfire Night. Great timing. As I remember it, our choir and the parish church choir led the singing. I think the programme was transmitted on Sunday evening. Half of my face featured for about 1 second, but it was very exciting. In glorious black and white too. Michael got a full face shot. My great grandmother nearly fainted.

F. Michael & John Allen

The best looking brothers in the choir. I vaguely recall some choir procession happening near Dick Hudson's, Eldwick. Maybe this was taken then. Michael is looking mean and moody. Elvis in a cassock and surplice.

In the photo below I'm on the second row, between the vicar and the curate. David Ohr is to my right. Michael is behind my right shoulder.

Holy Trinity Choir, Bingley

Holy Trinity Choir c.1963


I've no idea what the event is, but I'm assuming the photo below is from a choir do of some kind. I'm third from the left on the back row. The good looking boy with the tie.

Holy Trinity Church Event, Bingley

Holy Trinity Church Event

Similarly, I assume the photo below is from a Holy Trinity choir or church event. My elder brother, Michael, is bottom left.

Holy Trinity Church Event, Bingley

Holy Trinity Church Event


When we moved to Middlesbrough I joined a local church choir in Acklam. I suppose I must have sung in that choir for a couple of years, presumably becoming a man (singing-wise, at least) at some point. This choir also featured in a 'Songs of Praise' - I was starting to become something of a TV regular. I also sang in a festival at Durham Cathedral.

I remember during one Evensong service looking around the congregation and thinking about what I was doing there. It gradually dawned on me that I didn't believe in any of it, any more than I believed in Father Christmas. So I left the choir. However, the whole experience left me with a love of Church of England services, particularly Evensong. If we get a chance, Michele and I will go to Choral Evensong. There is nothing like being in the calm of a cathedral choir/quire during sung evensong.


Larger Images (open in a new window)

A. Buckingham Palace B. Changing at St Paul's C. Outside St Paul's D. Blackpool Afternoon E. Songs of Praise F. Michael & John Allen