Tracks and traces

Just another inconsequential but somehow satisfying and serendipitous little find from my genealogy meanderings. You have been warned.

I was doing some transcription work for a family history society and while checking records in the 1939 register, came across Arthur Hinchcliffe, Professor of Singing, living at Montana, Savile Park Road, Halifax. This rang a bell, and sure enough, when I checked with a quick internet search, he had taught Walter Widdop, “the Yorkshire Tenor”.

A 17 March 1950 article in, of all things, the Motherwell Times, says my grandfather Clifford’s voice tutor had also coached Walter Widdop, well-known in his day as ‘The Yorkshire Tenor’. I think this tutor may well have been Arthur Hinchcliffe, who certainly taught Walter and I am sure I’ve heard that name before in connection with Clifford, so it’s quite nice to have picked this up .I was aware of a tenuous link with Walter Widdop and think this is probably it.

The review in the same paper of 31 March 1950 was pleasantly positive about Clifford’s Don José and noted Clifford being ‘superbly co-operative’ in the duet for one with ‘a voice of such dimensions’ so he seems to have been a generous performer.

Carmen Don Jose review from Motherwell Times 1950. Morton Clifford singing.

The only other operatic star connection in the family tales handed down is that my mum’s ‘claim to fame’ was that she once sang for Heddle Nash! My grandfather once brought Heddle Nash back to the house when he was in Halifax for a performance (I think Clifford was involved via the theatre at the time), and had Jean sing her ‘party pieces’ of the time to the ‘great man’. She was only a youngster then and by all accounts had a good, pretty well coloratura soprano (as opposed to the alto and lower of later years).

Sadly I have no recordings of either Clifford or my mother singing, but do have many a happy memory of family sing-songs round the piano.

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