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.