Portsmouth Music Scene

Odds and Ends from the 1950's and before

Assorted other photographs and information about any local music acts from the beginning to 1959

Ron Coe and the Coe-Horts


THIS group of likely lads is the Gosport based skiffle band Ron Coe and the Coe-horts pictured here in 1959.
Guitarists Don Laming, on the left, now lives in Sheffield, but he wonders what happened to the rest of the band?
Don wrote to say: 'For a short time at the end of the 1950s, skiffle was the main feature of the pop scene - not only Lonnie Donegan but such bands as The Vipers.
The other members of the band were dockyard apprentices and Ron, centre, was the lead singer.
We gained experience by singing at local venues. We had a distinctive dress and earned, I believe, about 10 shillings (50p) a performance.
The high point of our brief musical time together was competing in the All England Skiffle Contest.
We reached the semi-finals, held in the Mecca Ballroom, Oxford Street, London.
We practised diligently a song called The Wabash Cannonball confident of success.
However, we were shattered when at the audition, the show's compere said we couldn't perform that number because he himself was scheduled to perform it.
We were compelled to choose another entry at short notice and we didn't win.'
Apart from Don and Ron the other lads were: Bernard Jones (washboard), Alan Munn (string bass) and Roger Meakin (percussion), pictured here playing a sieve.
Don says the band did make a record.
One track was a song entitled 'Three Miles from Home' written by Ron himself.
The other side was a spiritual 'Where Could I Go But to the Lord?' I wonder, if anybody has this record?'
Gosport Skiffle Group Ron Coe and the Coe-Horts,in action in 1959 guitarist Don Laming on the left, now lives in Sheffield, but he wonders what happened to the rest of the band? Don said we gained experience by singing at local venues. We had a distinctive dress and earned, I believe, about 10 shillings (50p) a performance.' Well, if you were one of the lads or indeed know of their whereabouts, please let me know. Thanks go to John Morgan for the picture.
Portsmouth NEWS 16/12/2009


The Hi Fi's.

Ron Monger guitar, Dave Mears bass. Pete Taylor drums, Tony Bailey guitar, and Clive Warren vibes.


Graham Hunt, drummer 26th June 1953


Esplanade Assembly Hall, behind the Esplanade Hotel at Clarence Pier
A very interesting room, ignor the dancers and note the very high stage on the left,
12 or 15 feet high?with instruments there already
with stairs in the corner, and looking very grand and palacial.

banner gordon copsey

Two local organists from the 1950's, Gordon Banner in white, and Eric Copsey in black.

Barry Stone Says: Eric Copsey was my uncle.
He was part of the Copsey market-gardening/florist family. The family, headed by Thomas Copsey (Eric’s grandfather), came to Hilsea in the mid 1800s to manage Hilsea farm on the north of what is now Norway Rd. The family then moved across the road into Green farm, part of which was known locally as Copsey Cottages. The farmhouse was demolished but the cottages survive today as part of the Toby Carvery (on Copnor Rd).
Around 1915 two of Thomas’s sons, Fred and Robert, bought some land at Farlington (on the Havant Rd). They started a market-gardening business – including growing flowers. Fred’s son Eric became a successful florist and in the 1960s was elected World President of Interflora. Eric bought and ran the Bryson florists shops in Portsmouth.
Eric was an accomplished organist and he played in numerous ‘venues’ around Portsmouth. He played regularly at the Drayton/Farlington Methodist Church. It is said that on occasion mischieviously he played the hymn with one hand and a current popular tune with the other. He is buried in St Andrews churchyard, Farlington. The Copsey/Denvilles business in another part of the same family.

The Melody Makers


The Melody Makers from 1934, who regularly played at the Portsmouth Guildhall, and had a
three year residency upstairs at the Radical Club in Fratton/Kingston Road Portsmouth.
The band included Joseph Hatchard, Frank Hatchard, Beatrice Hatchard on piano(not shown) plus a drummer and
Ernest Hatchard who was the father of Cadillacs drummer Bryan Hatchard


Chic Cheeseman Trio, Bull’s Head, Fishbourne: Chic Cheeseman (P),
Sammy Seal (B), Ted Smith (D)

Chick Henderson

Shirley Alton asked if any readers could help with some history about the former Royal Pier Hotel, Southsea.
Its replacement on the corner of Southsea Terrace is now a hall of residence for students at the University of Portsmouth.
Heather Colquhoun, from Gosport, wrote to say that she remembered it being used as accommodation for soldiers in the 1950s. She said: 'in 1957 I lived with my family at the then Royal Pier Hotel for several months. I believe it was an Army transit accommodation.
'We had just returned from a posting in Germany. My father was in hospital at the time. How long it stayed in the Army's control I do not know. I believe, but am not sure, that it was for warrant officers and their families.'
Mick Cooper got in touch to say that popular wartime singe Chick Henderson died in the hotel in June 1944. He was a prolific recording artist and performer with dance bands during the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Apparently he was a tall, handsome man with a rich, strong vocal delivery and appeared on postcards and magazine covers.
In July 1939, he recorded with Joe Loss' orchestra what would become his biggest selling recording - Begin the Beguine - which sold more than a million copies, the only recording by a 1930s vocalist to achieve such a triumph.
His singing career came to an end with his final recordings in 1940. Less than a year after the Second World War started he began serving in the Merchant. Navy. He survived two torpedo attacks on his ships but, after four years of service, suffered fatal wounds in Southsea from shrapnel. He was 31.
His wife Pamela had a letter from a padre which said that following the air raid warning the priest and Chick made their way to the air raid shelter close to the Royal Pier Hotel which had been requisitioned by the navy.
He wrote: 'British ack ack guns were firing at a German V2 flying bomb and Chick stumbled and fell. They carried him into the back of the hotel which housed 1,000 British naval officers. Chick had been hit by a piece of shrapnel from a British ack ack gun. He died before help could reach him:
Portsmouth NEWS 15/12/2009

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ken howell dance band

The Reg Bannistra Band

ken howell dance band

The Johnny Lyne Band

vocaltones c levis

The Vocaltones with Carroll Levis at the Apollo Cinema in Albert Road, Southsea


Dave Allen's grandfather had a record shop in Granada Road in the 1930's


The Thunderclaps

the carlton dance band

The Carlton Dance Band, date from the mid 1920's. The venue was the Clarence Pier, Southsea.
George Bennett was the piano player. He is better known as Billy Bennett who ran the music shop in New Road.
Harry Quinton was the drummer but sadly, the other players are unknown
Note the assortment of instruments and the megaphone


The Harry Barnard Ochestra from the 1920'a


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The old theatre in St Mary's Road, 28th July 1864

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The 19th century at the Theatre Royal.


Nancarrows Dance Orchestra, with pianist George Coalbran, clarinet and saxophone Noel Bone
plus three unknowns, but who was Nancarrow?


Jimmy Harris Band


The Roy Bridger Sextet

From the Portsmouth NEWS 29th November 2012.

The Roy Bridger Sextet played gigs all over the area for more than three decades and now Roy would like to find out what happened to the rest of the band. Apart from Roy, they were Ken Burroughs, George Daws, Lucky Jordan, Dick Ducksbury and Ted Grainger, all pictured right. Roy, of Anson Grove, Portchester, who is now 81, recalls some of the venues at which they played: Portsmouth Labour Club; British Legion in Goldsmith Avenue, Fratton; Rock Gardens Pavilion, Southsea; Hilsea Lido Pavilion; Co-op Club in Fratton Road; All Saints Church hall, Landport; Butlins Holiday Camp, Hayling Island, and Rowlands Castle Village Hall. Roy and his band played for dances, parties, wedding receptions and other events in the city and surrounding areas from the 1940s through to the 1970s. Their manager was Bill Stillwell who, as well as booking most of the gigs, would transport the music stands in a small trailer towed by his bicycle. Roy says: `Jimmy Newton who played trumpet for Benny Freedman's band at the Embassy Ballroom and the Savoy Ballroom, Southsea, was a good friend. He was also an amateur photographer and took the portrait photos of the band. He also took the photos at my wedding to Margaret in 1959.' Roy has lost touch with members of the band but would be pleased to hear from them or anyone else who has memories of those days. Please get in touch if you can help.

portsmouth band 1920

An unknown Portsmouth band from 1920 by photographer William V Amey
Palmerston Rd Southsea and 253 Commercial Rd

william seal

From the Portsmouth NEWS 31/12/2012

This picture is from David Lee, of Westbourne. He received it from relative Colin Seal. It shows Colin’s grandmother, Martha Seal (nee Attrill), on her wedding day in 1903. Her new husband (standing) is William Seal and seated are her brothers Thomas and George Attrill. They formed a musical act and performed at the Coliseum in Portsmouth.


This was taken at our first paid engagement, The Portsmouth and Southsea Lifeguard Corps Christmas dance, in December ‘56. The venue was the ballroom of the Portland Arms hotel, in Portland Road, up from Handleys (now Debenhams). Looking at Google Earth I see that it’s now The Townhouse, and derelict; what a shame. We were a ‘filler’ in one of the intervals at the dance. From left to right we have David Butlin on the one-string bass (which was known for some reason as ‘Pete’), Paul Pond on Guitar and vocals, Christopher Bartle on banjo and vocals, and Keith Darvil on drums (The ‘John’ on the bass drum refers to the drummer of the band that was playing for the dance). Keith had replaced David Rodgers, who had been our washboard player when we started the group. We were paid £10 between us for our efforts at the dance. The original is rather crumpled now, but I hope that this copy might be of interest and use to you.” Well it certainly is! Paul Pond became, of course Paul Jones and I wonder whether David Rodgers is the man from the Auckland Arms who was soon after this fully engaged in the Pompey ‘Trad’ scene?


Not much is known about the Down South this photo from around the 1920's
It was found in a house clearence near Portchester and with that name they must be local,
but maybe we'll never know exactly who they were.
It was in the NEWS 7th December 2012


The Vocaltones Quartet from 1951/52.

The Vocaltones changed personel a number of times and included, Brian Mugridge, Chris Harvey, Brian Pinhorne, Lionel Haines, Jeff Forsey, Ron Dix, Alf Grainger, But the final line up was.. Brian Mugridge, Chris Harvey, Lionel Haines, Alf Grainger.

william seal

John Dyre Ltd in 1914, They had shops in Norfolk Street and Kings Road, and they were a general drapery store with music!
Musical Thursdays, now that's a good idea


To Portsmouth! To Portsmouth! It is a gallant town:
And there we will have a quart of wine with a nutmeg brown,
Diddle down!
The gallant ship, the Mermaid, the Lion, hanging stout,
Did make us to spend there our sixteen pence all out.
Diddle down!

Portsmouth in song


Long's Memorial Hall, St Pauls Square, Southsea 1913/14

tommy moss tommy moss tommy moss

Tommy Moss and the Ramblers.
September 28th Winner of the Savoy Ballroom final of the Word Skiffle Championships were Tommy Moss and the Rolling Ramblers who win £15.0.0d. Second was The Rebels Skiffle group who get £10.0.0d. both are from Portsmouth, The winner will now go to London for the All England final.
October 25th Manny Howard and his Maniacs plus Tommy Moss and his Rolling Ramblers Skiffle Group play at the Savoy Ballroom plus Benny Freedman and his Orchestra.
November 18th Jive to Tommy Moss's Ramblers play at the Festival Bar, advertised but is later Cancelled!.
November 23rd Tommy Moss's Ramblers play at the Savoy Ballroom.

co-op jazz

The Portsea Island Co-op Band from 1934. They had changed with the times and
were now playingthe new-fangled music of the era - JAZZ.
from the Portsmouth NEWS 11th November 2013.


The Colwells, including Uncle Les and Uncle Baz

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Leslie Graham and his Band

Photos taken in the circular Pavilion at Clarance Pier.
Leslie Graham conducting, the trombone player was Alfred Gunner.
Photo taken in the 1930's as the Pavilion was destroyed by enemy bombing.


Wally Fry and his Band

Wally Fry is paying drums, the trombone player was Alfred Gunner.
The location is unknown, but possibly the Savoy and probably pre-war.


The Live Five

Portsmouth rock & roll group The Live Five during their brief appearance in
Val Guest’s film Expresso Bongo which stared Cliff Richard.(1959)


Portsmouth Transport Concert Party before 1939

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