Broughton Choir St John Baptist Parish Church


Memories to Savour

Mr HillMichael Hill, a leading member of the Bass Section in Broughton Choir
for over thirty years, reminisces on his early days as a Boy Chorister
in Preston
I was just eight, when the Curate of St Andrew's Church Ashton,
Rev Michael Harford, on a visit to Lea Endowed School, suggested that
I should audition for the Church Choir.
I duly went along to sing for the Choirmaster, Mr Frank Hope, a local
Bank Manager and quite a fearsome looking man, and I was accepted.
So began a career as a Chorister and my love of singing, which has
played such an important part in my life. We practised on Mondays and Wednesdays. Mondays were particularly hard; Mr Hope would play the first note of a hymn and then wait for someone to sing it. I couldn't read music, but I soon learned enough to survive!
Psalms were a nightmare, trying to understand the pointing, but I suppose
it was like riding a bike, once you learnt, you never forgot. We sang from the Oxford Psalter. This book had a second use; if you were talking out of turn, a Senior Boy would smack you over the head with it and tell you to 'shut up'. It was tough being a Chorister in those days!
I thought Ashton was very posh, with big houses and people who spoke slightly differently to me.
I had to travel to Church on the P1 Corporation Bus … and it cost threepence (old money) each way!
Of course, we never enjoyed a week in France or the Isle of Man; our equivalent was a day out in Southport. We had a fish and chip lunch in a restaurant and then ran ourselves silly on the Pleasure Beach before returning home at 6.00 pm. And that was it!
I sang my first solo when I was ten; it was the Ireland in C Agnus Dei. What a moment; heart pumping ... concentration ... and petrified!
After the Service Fred Marsh who sang the Bass solo gave me half-a-crown (two shillings and sixpence in old money!). It must have been alright!
I sang a lot of solos, but I suppose the other 'biggy' was the unaccompanied first verse of
'Once in Royal', at the beginning of the Carol Service

There have been some excellent treble soloists during my time as an adult at Broughton, too many to mention by name; they all have my respect and admiration. Eventually I was appointed Head Chorister, and I still have my medal; a wonderful memento of those happy days spent as a Boy
Chorister in one of Preston's leading Choirs.

Music notes