THE once close-knit village life of Outlane kept families around either church, chapel, pub or club which ever. The thoughts of straying beyond those hills were unknown. Local work at Joseph Hoyles, Netherwoods, the three motor garages, plus other smaller traders and shops maintained a close community.
My introduction gives you a picture of early days other than the farming life, of which I was to live amongst being the son of a farmer. Thou I must say my mother had other wishes than livestock. Her life-long friend Kathleen Johnson did have much in starting things to roll. She encouraged our family to acquire her redundant piano, a solid oak heavyweight. No doubt my parents had the wish for my brother and I to fulfil their needs, being both non players. Although I must say my father did have a good bass voice and undertook a number of solo lines at the Upper (Thov'er) Chapel.
There were two Methodist Churches in Outlane, Trinity and Bethel (Bethel being the lower naturally!). St Mary's Church with a two manual Conacher faces the site of now the non existent Bethel. Although the organ at Bethel is now in use at the converted school hall in Outlane (small three manual J J Binns).
Our family attended regular at Trinity Methodist Church where music social life was fundamental. Mrs Jessie Pickles choirmistress and young Miss Enid Walker organist were my first memories of church music. Many children including my brother and two cousins had weekly piano lessons from Enid. She fulfilled the task of passing on knowledge (and still does) of her musical talents.
I started regular piano lessons at 8 years old, and then following on to me a very great step forward an opportunity at 12 years to play the harmonium in Sunday School. The four/five years on the harmonium gave me the technique necessary to be nominated the official deputy to Mr Harry Roebuck, who was by now the organist at Trinity Methodist. The organ was a sizeable two manual tracker actions Conacher. Quite a few ranks went to Thornbury, Bradford when the building closed. During the time I was deputy I remember the action being refurbished which was a delight to play with now level keyboards. The cost in the mid 50's was around £250. The first service I played was a Sunday School Anniversary with an almost full church, having practised many times at 8am before school in preparation. At the age of 21 I applied for the position of organist at Marsden Congregational Church little did I realise I would remain almost 20 years. My first service was very daunting playing a three-manual 1930's Conacher after arriving through deep snow. I remember to this day my fears of having to manage 29 speaking stops plus 12 couplers.
Francis Horton (see P9 No 4 issue of The Clarion) was my deputy, his uncle the late Ernest Wood gave me such support, with being himself the organist for a period, prior to my predecessor Philip Chorlton.
Ernest knew the organ from A to Z its every needs: water, oil, french chalk etc, although he served in greater heights at the Parish Church, he always kept in touch at 'The Green'. (Ask Douglas Bell about this one).
Though the services were basically hymns, I had the support of a choir and leader at both services and Wednesday evening practices.
Lewis Eastwood a long standing Colne Valley Male Voice Choir member, maintained a consistent standard according to the needs of worship. Regular Christmas, Easter, Harvest and Anniversary anthems and cantatas being a must.
Being in full time employment, organ playing was purely a hobby, though I undertook to enter the Mrs Sunderland organ class in 1965 and throughly enjoyed the organ/resonance of Milton Congregational Church. (Now the university night scene). I was obliged to win, being the sole entrant! After this competition I had no further tuition but there on I adopted a look, listen and learn philosophy going to numerous recitals and IAO Congress weeks.
At Marsden I undertook the choir training in addition to being organist. Resorting to willing and able folk didn't always achieve a resounding success every time, but the spirit was there.
The road to Marsden was beginning to wear thin and desires to move increased, instead of travelling west I went east in fact north-east to King Cross Methodist, Halifax serving here for 9 years.
Now alas, for the sake of my sins, I am a helpful deputy. The saying 'Actions speaker louder than words' may refer to the lack lustre touch of exhaust pneumatic action and spongy electrics, or the inability to confess my weakness of not practicing!