HARRY TORRANI

Evergreen - - Summer 2016 -

How

eas­ily we for­get! A few miles south of Ch­ester­field in Der­byshire lies the vil­lage of North Wing­field where a ker­fuf­fle oc­curred some years ago when the lo­cal coun­cil de­cided to re­name a road “Torrani Way”. The res­i­dents of Mid­land View, Hepthorne Lane, had never heard of him and didn’t see why they should change.

A lit­tle re­search re­vealed the man in ques­tion was born Harry Hop­kin­son in a long- since de­mol­ished cot­tage in 1902. He worked in the lo­cal col­liery and sang in the church choir be­fore en­rolling in a troupe of trav­el­ling en­ter­tain­ers where he de­vel­oped a spe­cial­ity for yo­delling.

He was so good that he changed his name to Harry Torrani be­cause it sounded more cos­mopoli­tan with a let­ter “i” on the end, and made the first of his 25 records for Regal Zono­phone in 1931. Un­til he re­tired in 1942 he was billed as “The Yo­delling Cow­boy from Ch­ester­field”. He wasn’t a cow­boy and he didn’t come from Ch­ester­field but that didn’t mat­ter and wher­ever he went, home and abroad, he at­tracted big crowds. His stet­son hat showed him off to good ef­fect and his voice did the rest.

He re­tired com­pletely from show busi­ness dur­ing the late- For­ties, be­came a watch re­pairer and re­turned to the lo­cal choir. He died in 1979 and was largely for­got­ten — un­til now! Well done to the lo­cal coun­cil for bring­ing back to life a slice of his­tory when yo­delling was im­mensely pop­u­lar all over the world.

Harry Torrani was widely re­garded as one of the best yo­dellers the world has ever heard, yet he came from a Der­byshire min­ing vil­lage.

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