The Cornish recordings in the British Library’s Fred Hamer Collection

We were recently approached by someone from the British Library‘s music rights section letting us know about the digitisation of the recordings of folk and traditional music made by Fred Hamer in the 1950s and 60s. It’s always exciting to hear of news like this, as these recordings have never been publicly available before. But before they can be released, the BL need to undertake some due diligence to check to see if the descendants of the named performers give their permission to make the recordings available online.

If the rights holders can’t be contacted then the recordings will still be published as ‘orphan works’ and the BL can at least demonstrate that they tried, in case of the (very unlikely) case of a future dispute. If they can be contacted, then the BL will send out permissions forms.

We have been given permission to publish the list of Cornish recordings here, and if anyone knows any of the families of the subjects, do get in touch and we’ll connect you with the department at the British Library.

The recordings

  • Nick Board – Recorded singing songs in August 1960 in Pelynt.
  • Nick Broad – Recorded singing songs in August 1960 in Pelynt. Nick Board and Nick Broad could possibly be the same rights holder. 
  • John Henry Collins – Recorded singing songs in August 1960 in Pelynt.
  • Mr. Hender – Is recorded sometime between 1950 and 1969 in Helston and is interviewed about the Helston Furry Dance. Is possibly C. Leonard Hender, Helston Town Band’s former musical director.
  • Mrs. Julian – Recorded in August 1961 in Illogan. She sings “Old daddy fox.”
  • Arthur Libby – Recorded playing the accordion and the bones in August 1960 in Pelynt. 
  • Wilfred Martin – Recorded in August 1960 and on 02/08/1968 in Pelynt. He sings songs and talks about May day, transportation and poaching songs.
  • Taffy Millard – Recorded singing songs in August 1957 in Pelynt.
  • Padstow Obby ‘Oss Team – They are recorded performing “Padstow day song” sometime between 1950 and 1969 in Padstow. 
  • Mrs. Phelps – Recorded singing an ox plough song sometime between 1950 and 1969 in Pelynt.
  • Leslie Rescurle – Recorded singing “The great appetite” in August 1960 in Lanreath.
  • Frank Rowe – Recorded on 03/08/1968 and 03/08/1960 in Pelynt. He sings “Ox plough song”, “Cornish plough song” and “While shepherds watched their flocks by night”
  • Skinner’s Bottom Glee Singers – Recorded between 1950 and 1969 in Skinner’s Bottom. They perform “The flora dance” on a 1968 BBC Radio 4 broadcast of “A-roving.”
  • Joseph Spear – Recorded singing in August 1962 in West Taphouse. He sings “The noble foxhunting” and “The stowaway.”

Needless to say, we can’t wait to hear them!