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Keeper of the Scrolls

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Posted -  14/06/2004  :  22:48

Extracted from Earby Chronicles Edition 31 Winter 2003

An old, well used book, entitled “Songs of Praise and Prayer” recently came into my possession and was of such local interest to me that I decided to find out more about it.

The book, printed c 1895, contains 60 hymns with words by Henry Powers (born Hull 1854) and music by Lloyd Hartley (born Earby 1882). It also contains a preface written by the two men along with their photographs.

Lloyd Hartley’s father, William (born 1845), was the youngest of five children to William and Olivia Hartley. Lloyd’s father, William, was employed in his early teens as a doffer in the local cotton mill. He started to learn music and to play the piano under a highly gifted musician called Henry Pickles. Mr Pickles owned a grocery shop at the top of Aspen Lane in Earby but he devoted all his spare time to giving music lessons. He was well known in the area for his excellent ‘cello playing and there is a monument to his memory in the church yard in Thornton-in-Craven. Henry Pickles was so impressed with young William that he introduced him to the local churches and chapels where he had the opportunity to play the piano or organ if required.

At nineteen years of age William gladly accepted the position of Organist at Kelbrook Church. At about this time there was a school for Gentlemens’ sons at Hague House run by Mr. Tunniclffe. The boys at the school always attended the church services at Kelbrook where they often provided the bulk of the congregation. Mr Tunnicliffe, himself an accomplished musician, gave William advice and encouragement for which he was forever grateful.

After five years at Kelbrook, William gladly accepted the position of Organist and Choirmaster at Earby Baptist Chapel; he was to remain in this post for 30 years.

At that time the organ in the chapel was an old ‘G’ organ which had previously belonged to the Wesleyan Chapel at Skipton. Always very keen on pedal work, William had the organ altered and new pedals put in. He was later quoted as saying that he could “move his feet about on the pedals like a fish in water”. Eager to improve his playing, he attended lessons at Broughton Hall under the tutelage of Mr. Skippings who was reputedly the finest organist in the area at that time. He also made the acquaintance of Father Marshall who took an interest in him.

William Hartley and Family c 1895
Standing - Lloyd, Handel, Haydn, George Frederik
Seated - James Stanley, William, Sarah Ella, Margaret Ann, Amy Olivia.
Front - Halle
Lloyd is holding his book ‘Songs of Praise and Prayer’
It was around this time that William became a member of Earby Brass Band, playing the trombone. The band played at Broughton Hall sports day and William was spotted again by Father Marshall who told him that playing in the band would ruin him and he did not want to see him with a trombone again! William took his advice but did not end his association with the band entirely. In fact, he tutored and conducted the band on many occasions. He never went out with the band to a contest without winning a prize. The band won four prizes at a contest in Skipton and a prize at Kew Gardens. In fine weather the band rehearsed at “Brigstones” in the open air. This was convenient as many of the bandsmen lived in the surrounding cottages and farms. Banding was hard work. William admitted it was like “leading a cow from Skipton market and trying to get it into a fresh boose (shippon)”

William married Sarah Smith of Earby in 1873 and they had six children, all boys and named after famous musicians: Handle, Haydn, George Frederic, Novello, Lloyd and Halle. Sarah died about 1888 and William went on to marry Margaret Ann Hartley (same surname) of Stacksteads, Bacup in about 1890. They had three children Sarah Ella, James Stanley and Amy Olivia.
Margaret died in 1897 at the age of 41 and William married again to Martha Ann Singleton, a widow, from Raikes Bank Farm, Earby.

As a young man, William embarked on a new career as a baker of oatcakes and muffins at 53 -55 Red Lion Street, Earby. To establish his business he would go round Earby and the surrounding towns and villages hawking his produce. Eventually his business became well known throughout the area and was continued for many years by his sons when he retired. Even today, elderly people in Earby can remember “Hartley’s Famous Oat cakes”. William was known locally as “Little Bill Hartley”, being small in stature and to distinguish him from another William Hartley who was also a musician living in Earby.
In the late 1870s there was a notable musical community at the top of Red Lion Street known locally as “Top o’t’town”. Anyone passing by in the evenings would have heard all kinds of musical instruments being played and people singing.

In one house lived Vandeleur Wilkinson who ran the bobbin mill at Booth Bridge. He had a large family, mostly boys. He was a very good violinist as was his son Herbert. Three more of his sons played in Earby Brass Band.

Next door lived William Turner and family. One son played the bass the largest instrument in the brass band. Two other sons, Levi and James played the piano and organ and sang in the Baptist Chapel choir. Levi had been choirmaster at the chapel and his daughter Millicent taught music at Alder Hill School and was one of the best violinists in the area.

However, the outstanding musical family in the area was that of William Hartley who lived across the road from the others, next door to his bakehouse. As well as being organist and choirmaster at Earby Baptist Chapel he was also conductor of the Earby Orpheus Glee Union which was mainly made up of members of the Baptist choir. They practised in the Baptist school room and were successful in winning many prizes at local festivals.

The outstanding musical event in William’s life and perhaps in Earby was the performance of Haydn’s Creation in the Baptist Chapel on May 22nd 1886. The principals were Miss Tomlinson, soprano from Bradford, Mr Parratt, principal tenor from Ripon Cathedral, and Mr Varley, bass and choirmaster at St. Peter’s Church, Blackburn. The chorus consisted of the Baptist and Welseyan choirs from Earby and Barnoldswick and members of the Skipton, Colne and Nelson choral societies. The orchestra of over 30 musicians included members of Earby String Band, Earby Brass Band and players from as far away as Burnley and Birstall and even a member of Halles’s famous band from Manchester.

The event was a great success and much talked about in the area as well as being a personal triumph for William. The orchestra had rehearsed for the occasion in a room over William’s bakehouse and never was such music heard at Top o’t’ Town before or since.

The proceeds from the performance went towards a new organ which was installed shortly afterwards in the Baptist Chapel by Driver and Haigh of Bradford. The organ was always a source of pride for William who continued as organist and choirmaster for a further 15 years. When the Reverend Walter Wynn was pastor he requested that William choose the hymns and tunes for the services, an arrangement which continued for several years.

Barrett’s Directory for 1902 states :

William Hartley, Teacher of music, organist and musical instrument dealer. 55 Red Lion Street, Earby.
The services of William to the Baptist Chapel were recognised on December 17th 1892 when he was presented with an illuminated address and a purse of gold. The address read as follows :-

“Presented to William Hartley with a purse of gold by the members of the Church, choir and congregation of the Baptist Chapel , Earby, in recognition of his valuable services as organist extending over a period of 20 years and also for his enthusiasm in helping to conduct the services of the church in the most harmonious manner, making it a real pleasure to listen to his beautiful performances lifting them up as it were from worldly thoughts to enjoy the delights of heavenly music by his good example and unostentatious fulfilment of his duties. He has been a light to all around him working out his daily life in the love and fear of the Great Master, glorifying in his service and we feel sure that when his days on Earth are passed in this life he will be called to hear the voices of the Heavenly Choir for ever,
Signed Church John Green
Choir William Hartley
Congregation Charles Watson

William died in 1931 at the age of 86 and is buried in Earby at Wheatlands Cemetery.
Many of William’s children naturally took an interest in music. Handle and James the eldest and youngest boys were professional musicians, being players and teachers of the ‘cello. However, it is to Lloyd to whom the story now turns.

We will hear more of Lloyd in the Spring Edition of Chronicles.

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