Oswestry Recorded Music  Society
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Oswestry Recorded Music Society was founded in 1958. The Border Counties Advertizer of October 8th 1958 informs us that the inaugural meeting had been held at the town’s library the previous week. Alderman E Pritchard, chairman of Oswestry Library Committee, had presided. The new society would represent a further extension of the library’s services to the Borough, and Borough librarian Henry Jones, whose initiative this was, was elected secretary-treasurer. Idris Roberts, organist at Horeb Welsh Methodist (Wesleyan) church, was elected chairman. The town’s two record dealers, Mr J Elwyn Roberts and Mr AL Padgett, offered full support. This was just as well considering the new society would be setting out without actually owning any equipment on which to play records!

The first ORMS meeting was held on October 28th 1958. The following week’s Advertizer tells us the meeting took place at the library where Mr Elwyn Roberts gave a demonstration of stereophonic tapes and records, and the Mayor (Councillor R Roberts) proposed a vote of thanks. Members were asked to bring their own choice of record to the next meeting to be held on Tuesday November 25th. The subscription was 2/6d per member. Regular meetings have continued ever since.

Sadly, Idris Roberts and his wife were killed in a car accident and at the 1960 AGM Edward Tanner was elected in his place. This was a wise move as Edward became a stalwart for many years to come, as was Peter Lander, who was elected Treasurer at that same meeting and held that position for the next 36 years! Edward and Peter were employees of the Post Office Telephones Engineering department based at Brogyntyn Hall. Edward discovered that the Post Office was a sponsor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s popular Industrial Concerts, which enabled him to apply for sufficient tickets to make up a coach party. This proved very popular and eventually led to monthly visits during the season which continued for many years. Although the Liverpool trips were never an official function of ORMS, many members took advantage of the visits and they became inextricably linked to the society.

Early ORMS meetings suffered low attendances, but by 1963 the membership had grown to 24, rising to 30 the following season. The library became unavailable during the 1972-73 season and some meetings were held at Centre North West. By 1976, the meeting venue had switched to the Memorial Hall. At the 1977 AGM June Padgett was elected vice-chairman. June was the wife of the aforementioned record dealer Mr AL (Paddy) Padgett. She was also a founder member and went on to be another society stalwart, serving variously as chairman, vice-chairman and secretary until her death in 2010.

The membership totalled 56 for the 1978/79 season, during which the Parish Centre became the society’s new home. ORMS was proving ever more successful with the number of members totalling 87 in 1983.  CD players had recently been introduced and at that year’s AGM, members discussed the possibility of purchasing one. A CD demonstration was given during the 1983/84 season by NE Read of Oswestry, the local record and hi-fi dealer. This was, for many, their first experience of CD reproduction. By 1992 the membership had risen to over 100 and the Liverpool visits were proving more popular than ever.

The society mourned the loss of Peter Lander in 2008 and Edward Tanner in 2012, but ORMS has continued to welcome those who find pleasure in listening to music in a congenial atmosphere, albeit with smaller audiences these days. ORMS’s meeting venue since the beginning of 2013 has been the Qube, which has proved to be a very welcoming and friendly organisation.

At the 60th anniversary celebratory meal at Sweeney Hall Hotel in March 2019, ORMS President Graham Ladley paid tribute to the pioneers of the recorded music movement back in the 1930s. Gramophone societies have existed in the UK since the earliest years of the 20th century, but the National Federation of Gramophone Societies (NFGS) was founded in 1936 when enthusiasts met at the Abbey Road studios of Columbia Records. This was a time when it was virtually unheard of for the average music lover to be in possession of a large collection of records, or indeed any decent equipment on which to play them. Recorded music societies offered the opportunity of hearing recordings on fine equipment, set within the context of an informative talk. The NFGS was eventually renamed the Federation of Recorded Music Societies (FRMS) to which ORMS has remained affiliated throughout its existence.  

Visits to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra  concerts, as well as occasional concerts at Wrexham featuring various orchestras and artists, eventually became independently run by Oswestry Concert-goers. However, this group ceased operating in 2016.

The Society invested in new and impressive sound equipment in 2015. It's a sign of the times that the audio cassette player and vinyl record deck have not seen the light of day for many years!

Author: Paul Astell

Page last updated: September 23, 2019