On the Air!
Sir: The “Breakdown Spot” (“Post Box”, Spring 2016) is the Market Square in Potton, Bedfordshire.
I attach a present-day photo (see below). The central building in your picture still remains, and now houses the local library on the ground floor, with the Town Council Chamber above. However, the surrounding one-storey construction, known as The Shambles, was demolished in the 1950s.
Regarding the BBC Schools Radio programme Singing Together I am married to the man who was its longest-serving producer, scriptwriter, arranger and editor, Douglas Coombes. He was in charge of this series and another highly popular and long-running programme Time and Tune for 20 years from 1968 to 1988.
Douglas is still an active composer and conductor. Every summer he conducts the Battle Proms series of concerts in the grounds of stately homes such as Burghley House, Hatfield House, Blenheim Palace, Highclere Castle and Ragley Hall.
He was awarded an MBE in 2012 for Services to Music and received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Gloucestershire University for Services to Music and the University in 2010. He was also responsible for creating piano arrangements of over 225 worship songs in the BBC Come and Praise hymnbook series — used in almost every Primary School in the country. The collection also includes several of his original compositions. — CAROLE COOMBES, POTTON,
BEDFORDSHIRE. *Thank you to everyone who has contacted us to identify the location and to share their wonderful memories of Singing Together (see more letters below). An article about the programme will feature in a forthcoming edition of our sister magazine Evergreen. — Ed. Sir: I remember the BBC Schools Radio programmes (“Post Box”, Spring 2016) and Singing Together very well. I attended Kneller Girls School in Twickenham in the late 1950s, early 1960s. I was part of the choir that was invited to sing in one of the programmes. There was great excitement and we had a wonderful time. What an experience to sing on the radio. We had lovely doughnuts in the break before transmission!
My only regret was that my mother and father were at work so they missed the broadcast. We were told that for the price of 10 shillings there would be a record produced, but unfortunately technical difficulties made that impossible. I often wonder if “somewhere” there is a recording of us singing — my one claim to fame. —
JENNIFER GREGG, COLNBROOK, SLOUGH, BERKSHIRE.
Sir: My husband recalls Singing Together from his primary school, especially “The Grand Old Duke of York”, “Road to the Isles” and “Marianina” (he thought this last one extremely silly). However my memory of the programme is rather different.
In 1970, while studying for a Music Teacher’s Certificate at the University of London, I was one of a group of students who were taken to Broadcasting House to see the programme being made. With the producer and the Schools Music Adviser we went to a tiny studio in the basement, where a pianist and a singer (soprano) were waiting.
It was the last programme in the series; schools had been invited to write in with their favourite songs and there was a big bag of mail, showing the programme’s popularity.
The songs were chosen, (which, I can’t unfortunately remember) and we huddled quietly in a corner while the programme went ahead, I think, live. At the end, we all chorused “Goodbye, everyone”, and that is the whole of my broadcasting career! — EIRA COXON,