Pontefract Music Festival, founded 1903. Affiliated to the British & International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance & Speech. Registered Charity 515051. Website copyright ©2017 Pontefract Music Festival. This website does not use cookies.

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The History of Pontefract Music Festival

Mr Frank Hatchard founded Pontefract Music Festival in 1903 with, we believe, the assistance of Mr Walter Hamilton-Fearnley. The founders’ objectives were to stimulate and foster the love & practice of music & drama in the district. This was to be by means of competitive classes before competent judges whose criticisms & advice would be of exceptional educational value to all entrants.

The Festival was suspended during the 1914 war but resumed afterwards & was suspended again in 1939 & not revived until 1947.
In 1951 the festival was considered sufficiently important to be used for a music class as part of the Festival of Britain, & the area semi-finals were held in Pontefract.

In 1996 we joined with the British Federation of Festivals in a national competition by putting forward two performers to the Festival of Festivals. Our representatives were Judith Carlyle, soprano & Elizabeth Matthews, drama.

A very early winner’s certificate awarded to Kathleen Illingworth in what was possibly the very first Festival.

The children were: 
Back Row: Trevor Hawley, unknown, Teddy Blakestone, unknown, Billy Booth, Fred Parker, Alan Boothman, unknown.
Front Row: Jean Bell, Margaret Major, Betty Wilson, Marjorie Sweeting, Audrey Waters, Jean Hawley, Joyce Horrocks, Brenda Briggs,

Photograph courtesy of Mrs Jean Wood (nee Hawley)

Willow Park Junior & Infants School at Pontefract Music Festival in 1936

The Willow Park Junior and Infants School mixed choir of 1936, charmed the judges with the song 
"Where Are You Going My Pretty Maid".