Room 42 @ THE NICE ROOMS presents
by Dy Swindlehurst
Date of Article: 9th March 2017
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Born in Manchester, I went to C F Mott College in Prescot (Nr Liverpool) to do my teacher training. I got my first job as a music teacher in 1966 at Ruffwood School in Kirkby. Back then the curriculum was basic. For music this was simply 4 words on one sheet of paper! They were History, Listening, Theory and Singing. The resources were half a dozen badly scratched records, a terrible record player and chalk!!
Swindlefolk Group Members
Paul Balmer was with the group from the start but left in the summer 1968 to go to College.
Liverpool was alive with music. There were bands everywhere. On the glorious 12th of July, most streets in Liverpool 8 had their own band on the street corner - everything from a piano, wheeled out of a parlour, to accordions and banjos.
I slept at school. Apart from lunchtimes, when a helpful older boy 'Twee' and a French teacher, taught me to play a few chords on the guitar. The 'folk revival' was in full swing by 1964, kicked into action by Ewan McColl and Bob Dylan.
..incensed by the madness of the Vietnam War, I helped form a protest band called 'the Swindlefolk', who played fund raisers for refugee relief at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and St. George's Hall. I played 12 string guitar and Jimbe. We made an album for Decca and played gigs all over the U.K. and in West Berlin. We were famously banned from a gig in East Berlin as 'a corrupting subversive Western influence' - what a triumph!
Back Row: Dy, Barbara, Ann, Pam, Janice, Bess and Griff.
Middle Row: Les, Carol, Chris, June and Paul
Front Row: Joyce and Sandy
How It All Began
I remember that I was based in Nightingale / Fleming Block at Roughwood where all Nightingalers ate lunch. Some of the 6th form boys used to use my music room to play guitar, listen to music etc. I was always in there - I never took a lunch hour preferring to work through - and during that time I started to sing with some of the lads. As a result of this I took an assembly in the main hall for all of the Upper School and sang a Bob Dylan song 'Masters of War' with Geoff Dykes who was one of the 6th Form boys; It's a very powerful piece of writing.
As an aside - Geoff Dykes and I regularly performed the Dylan song in what was then the place to be in Liverpool: Sampson and Barlow's which was just round the corner from the Empire on London Road. Every Saturday, Pete McGovern (He wrote: 'In My Liverpool Home' ) ran a folk club there called The Wash House. It was in the cellar. There were no chairs - you collected your wooden beer crate at the top of the stairs and sat on that up-ended all night. Performers simply stood up where they were and sang from there. I know we made a huge impact with that very first song which was also the first time I had sung in a folk club. A young American couple turned up one night at The Wash House - they were touring the UK - It was Simon and Garfunkel!
Geoff Dykes left school in 1967, went on to do teacher training and later became Deputy Head at West Derby Comprehensive.
By the end of my 1st term, (approaching Christmas 1966) my music room was being used as a gathering place / common room / practice room / packed lunch cafe by various guitarists and singers from Year 9 upwards.
I was still in my first year teaching ('66/67) when plans were afoot to produce A Man Dies - a modern retelling of the Cruifixion. This is when I first met Paul Balmer (he played drums in a rock group and also guitar at the time) His dad helped find some equipment for the production and we had an intense two weeks of rehearsals in a scout hut -I think - at Quarry Green.
Sandy Power (later to become a member of Swindlefolk) sang lead vocal in A Man Dies. I arranged and sang harmonies. Geoff Dykes we think played rhythm guitar and probably sang, and Terry Lowe (pupil) played lead guitar. Ann Plastow (teacher) also sang and recited some words whilst Dave Greenaway narrated.
A Man Dies was put on at the school in July 1967 and was a HUGE success. It was lauded by everyone.
"A Man Dies"
In November of the same year I was involved in the school production of "The Pirates of Penzance" I met and did the vocal tutoring of the girls in the cast; some of whom later joined Swindlefolk. By then of course I knew a number of the pupils interested and involved in music and the lunchtime informal meetings in my music room had started for real. It all really ran concurrently.
Having been involved in the productions of a A Man Dies and The Pirates of Penzance during my first year of teaching, I already knew Paul Balmer and of course Bess, Sandy and others from singing with them on stage in The Pirates of Penzance. During my 2nd year of teaching I was asked by a small group of girls to help stage a concert to raise funds for medical supplies to send to Vietnam. The girls were all members of the French/German Choir which had been run by Mr Pearson who had left Ruffwood. They knew I played guitar and could sing. We started off with a few French folk songs which I put accompaniment to and added vocal harmonies. This was the group that became the Swindlefolk.
People from the group would suggest a song and I would work out the chord sequence. Once the chords were sorted - something I could, and still can do quickly and easily - Bess, Chris, Joyce and I would sing the tune and then I would work out the harmonies in my head and teach it to the others. It was rare that we just copied other people's arrangements.
The First Concert (1968)
Swindlefolk On Tour
Newspaper cutting from Ruffwood School's visit to Walton on The Thames, Surrey
We visited Leeds as an invite from a teacher - Tony Hannam and also visited Whitely Bay and Sunderland.
On another outing we took many of the Swindlefolk to Ormside in Cumbria for a weekend. We drove the minibus up onto the moors above Appleby and got the kids out. Once they were out we locked the doors and drove off yelling at them to "make your own way back" and we went to the pub! Totally out of order but then in those days 'elf and safety wasn't even heard of! The kids loved it too!
Paul Balmer left Ruffwood School in 1968 to play drums with The Silhouettes but he continued to play guitar for the Swindlefolk on a part time basis and in July of the same year Ann Johnston left the group to concentrate on her studies.
During our time together the Swindlefolk under took two week-long tours. In February 1970 we went to Berlin. I had been to Berlin before to sing with my College Chamber Choir and was keen to return. We sailed from Harwich and were advised by crew to get into our bunks as it was going to be a rough crossing. We all slept through it and no-one was sick! From the Hook of Holland we took the Moscow train which goes through Berlin. It's nearly 500 miles to Berlin so we were thankful we weren't going to Moscow some 1,500 miles away!! In those days East Germany was controlled by the USSR but you have to go through East Germany to get to Berlin.
We were told to pull all the blinds down in all the carriages. You could just peer through the gap at the edge as we went through stations where there were armed guards with Doberman dogs. Quite scary! Our so-called "hostel" was more like an up-market hotel. Although we were in bunk beds it was very luxurious. We loved the city.
Deroy Sound Service
Produced by Dy Swindlehurst
Paul Balmer and Griff Jones (Guitars) June Carney (joint lead vocals), Christine Daley (joint lead vocals), Carol Dixon (joint lead vocals), Lesley Duffy (joint lead vocals), Joyce Edisbury (joint lead vocals), Anne Johnstone (joint lead vocals), Bessie Long (joint lead vocals), Pamela McWilliam (joint lead vocals), Sandra Power (joint lead vocals), Barbara White (joint lead vocals)
Swindlefolk's "Swindled" was pressed in early 1968.
The catalogue number for Side 1 is DER111 and for Side 2: DER112
Deroy items catalogued in this range
..101 THE WEDDING ALBUM
102 AFTER THE EVENT
111/112 SWINDLEFOLK "Swindled" LP..
'Swindled' was later released commercially by Decca Records (Ace Of Clubs Label) in 1970
(catalog no. ACL 1273; Vinyl LP).
Uist Tramping Song
I'll Tell Me Ma!
Family Of Man
I Still Miss Someone
Across The Hills
South Australia *
Way Haul Away
Leaving of Liverpool
Buy A Gun
* South Australia did not appear on the original "Swindled" album
Released on Deroy Sound Service
Produced by Dy Swindlehurst
Dy Swindlehurst (joint lead vocals, guitar, cello), Joyce Edisbury (joint lead vocals, percussion), Sandra Power (joint lead vocals, percussion), Bessie Long (joint lead vocals), Carol Dixon (joint lead vocals), June Carney (joint lead vocals), Anne Johnstone (joint lead vocals), Pam McWilliam (joint lead vocals), Barbara White (joint lead vocals)
Swindlefolk's "A-Rovin" was pressed very near the end of 1968, possibly the last of the year. Its catalogue number is ADM521
Deroy items catalogued in this range
..514 unknown 7" EP
517 unknown- 10"
521 SWINDLEFOLK "A-Rovin" LP..
Come All Ye Fair And Tender Maidens
It Ain't Me Babe
Here's To Cheshire
Will Ye Go Lassie
Au Clare De La Lune
This World Goes Round And Round
Sally Free And Easy
The Sun Is Burning
All My Trials
The Very Last Day
The Very Last Day
The Cruel War
The Movin' On Song
As noted above, "Swindled" and "A Rovin'" were both released on Deroy Sound Service
..It has been stated by some that Derrick and Roy Marsh, two brothers from Aughton in Ormskirk, began the Deroy Sound Service studios as early as 1948, and others believe it to be a mid-60s' date. However the earliest evidence appears to be from April 1957.
..In 1967 it is believed that Deroy began to press ‘vinyl’ records to allow for larger production runs, acetates could and would still be produced, but ‘vinyl’ was the way to go. To keep track of the studios output, every recording was given a unique catalogue number, using Derricks initials “ADM” The catalogue system initial began by providing a different number for each side, much like that of larger labels. The first disc being ADM1 for side 1 and ADM2 for side 2.
"Dusk To Dawn"
Derek Boak, Griff Jones, Barry MacKay, Dy Swindlehurst. Vocals: June Carney, Chris Daley, Carol Dixon, Les Duffy, Joyce Edisbury, Bessie Long, Pam McWilliam, Sandra Power, Dy Swindlehurst and Derek Boak. Drums; Paul Balmer.
The word "Dawn" in the title "Dusk To Dawn" refers to the new beginnings everyone in the group was facing on leaving Ruffwood.
Affair on Eighth Avenue
Theirs Is a Little House
You Can Tell the World
Eriskay Love Lilt
Parcel of Rogues
I've Been on the Road
Two tracks from "Dusk To Dawn": "Asoulin'" and "Rocky Road"
(Please Note Adobe Flash Player must be enabled to listen to these tracks.)
Asoulin' from "Dusk To Dawn" is a traditional song known as a soul-cake song. It's a song sung by children visiting their neighbours to beg for cake and in return they would bless the house they were visiting. It was a tradition on All Souls Day which is on the 2nd November. We borrowed the idea from Peter Paul and Mary. Sting also did a version.
Rocky Road is also a Peter Paul and Mary idea. This is also from "Dusk to Dawn" and is an American song.
You will notice that on the back cover of the scanned picture of "Dusk to Dawn" (above) there is some handwriting. It's my handwriting. The LP was the master disk. In the summer of 1971, as the girls were all preparing to leave Ruffwood and we were in rehearsals for the final concert, I met an ex-Ruffwood teacher, Geoff Stone, in a petrol station. Geoff was Deputy Head at Halewood Grange.
As we were filling up our cars with petrol he shouted across "Do you want a job?" I replied "Yes!" and a few days later was interviewed for and got a new post as Head of Year still teaching music at Halewood Grange.
For my interview I took with me copies of the LPs including "Dusk to Dawn" with me.
I put the LPs on the roof of my mini as I opened the door and forget about them! I drove off and, of course, never saw the disks again nor did I have copies. About 4 or 5 years ago someone from Australia and a friend of Dave Greenaway, contacted me via Facebook. I had recounted the story of the lost LPs and she offered to send me her copy of "Dusk to Dawn" which she had taken to Australia when she emigrated. When the disk arrived it turned out to be the lost master from the top of my car - complete with my handwriting and a return address!!
Although "Knights and Villeins" was not a Swindlefok LP it deserves a mention as most of the performance on it were by members of the Swindlefolk
"Knights and Villeins"
by Ruffwood Arts
Liverpool Sound - 1529
Calling On Song
I live not where I love
Crazy Man Michael
Lord of all I behold
Who knows where the time goes
Summer in the city
The first time
Don't go away
Let no man steal your Thyme
I have a unicorn
The End Of An Era
Text from the Programme of the Final Swindlefolk Concert at Ruffwood School (1971)
Click on each image for a larger resolution.
Swindlefolk: Before the final concert at Ruffwood School (1971)
To be truthful I don't think it hit home until the following day when it was back to school and on with the teaching as if nothing had happened. I do recall that particular day when lunchtime came, as per usual a few people arrived in my music room but there was nothing to do, nothing to rehearse and no concert to prepare for. Now that was odd, sad and I felt sort of almost bereaved if that's not too strong a word.
I taught (with great success) in four schools after leaving Ruffwood but nowhere captured the same spirit as my time spent there. The 1960s were a special time. There were so many young and talented staff; Liverpool was alive with music and culture in general and there was such talent in the pupils. It was a wonderful coincidence that puts us all there in that place at that time. We had a truly fabulous few years, life-long friendships were forged (for which I am more than grateful) and I look back with great fondness on those special times and special people - the Swindlefolk.
Swindlefolk: Before the final concert at Ruffwood School (1971)
After The Final Ruffwood Concert
Concert at At St George's Hall Liverpool (1972)
In 1988 I stopped doing the folk scene and joined The Crosby Capriol Choir who at the time were conducted by my music lecturer from College, John Emery. Still not musically happy, in 1993 I auditioned for a place in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and have been re-auditioning and singing with them ever since. The RLPC is the single most rewarding part of my own personal musical life. As much as I LOVED everything I have done, for my own musical satisfaction, nothing beats classical music within a big choir and with a world-class orchestra playing the accompaniment. I have kept a scrapbook and diary about my time with "The Phil" for the last 24 years and I really wish I had done that for the Swindlefolk but I was young and naive then and didn’t realise at the time the impact it would have not just on me, but on all concerned.
The friendships forged during the time of the Swindlefolk remain an important part of my life, our lives. We are all in touch with one another, not on a daily basis but at least every Christmas. We have lost touch with Carol and Barry so if anyone knows how we can contact them please get in touch! I see Bess and her husband at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall as they are keen concert goers. Derek and I are still good friends, living near one another in Southport. We have had a couple of casual "reunions" and in summer 2016 Dave Greenaway came over from Australia. Bess, Joyce and I met up with Dave for lunch in Liverpool along with Gary Martin, another ex-Ruffwoodian.
We will be friends for the whole of our lives.
Standing (L-R) Bess and Joyce
Sitting (L-R) Dave, Dy and Gary Martin
On behalf of The Nice Rooms Webzine, my sincere thanks to Dy Swindlehurst.