Tim tunes up with memories

John William Knowlson (right) 1930's
John William Knowlson (right) 1930's
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WE really struck a chord when we asked for memories of music man John Knowlson.

Back in June, we told of the Grange Road resident who founded the Hartlepool Excelsior Male Voice Choir, and took his own concert party to the Howbeck hospital in Hartlepool every Christmas Eve to cheer up the patients.

John William Knowlson (not know what rower he is) 1900's

John William Knowlson (not know what rower he is) 1900's

He was also a member of the Orpheus Male Voice Choir and was the first person to sing at the new Empire Theatre in Lynn Street, West Hartlepool.

But we wanted more and Tim Jones duly obliged with memories of his grandfather.

John was born on the Headland in 1880 and died in 1962 - just four years after he had featured in the Northern Daily Mail the first time. In an interview in 1958, he told a reporter how strong stomach muscles were the key to a strong diaphragm - and how he learned that from his music master, a Mr R Greenwell who used to strengthen his physique by getting his students to stand on his stomach.

Tim, a Hartlepool resident himself, said: “He showed musical ability from a very early age. He was a self-taught piano player and was chosen from school to join the St Andrew’s Church choir.”

John William Knowlson (rear middle) 1904 ish with fellow members of the Pierrot

John William Knowlson (rear middle) 1904 ish with fellow members of the Pierrot

He also sang in St John’s Presbyterian Choir and married Anne Runcie who was a cook in service to a family from Darlington who had a holiday home in Seaton Carew.

John was also a keen amateur dramatist and is pictured performing as a Pierrot.

After he left school, he started an apprenticeship at Richardsons Westgarth.

He was also involved in Gilbert and Sullivan productions. Tim said: “As a child, I can remember being taken along and listening to him singing at the Methodist church in Grange Road.”

He also recalled that John’s history making performance at the Empire Theatre was to sing a number from a presentation called Toreador.