Friends of the Charles Parker Archive: AGM 2013

Minutes of AGM held Thursday 17th October 2013 at The Library of Birmingham

The meeting commenced at 3.05p.m.

  1. Present:  Tim Blackmore (Chairman),  Pam Bishop, Andy Cartwright, Peter Cox,  Mary Kalemkerian,  Helen Lloyd, Sara Parker,  Ian Parr,  Fiona Tait,  Sian Roberts ,

Friends:  Joy Ashworth,  Sarah Bayliss, Patrick Costello, Maureen and John Davis, Graham Langley, Cathy Mackerras,  Graham Peet, Doc Rowe,  Eileen Whiting, Robert Whitworth

Apologies:  Philip Cox,  Alan Hall,  Rob Perks,  Matthew Parker,  Gillian Reynolds,  Colin and Elizabeth Shaw

Guests:  Barry Parsons (Cube Cinema, Bristol), Rod Stradling (Musical Traditions Records)

2.  Chairman’s Welcome and Introductory Remarks: 

The Chairman welcomed Friends and guests to the meeting and to the new Library of Birmingham saying how impressive were the new facilities and that he hoped this was a good omen for the future of the Archive and the Trust.  He then outlined the agenda items adding that Barry Parsons and Rod Stradling, whom he welcomed, would explain their interests later in the meeting.

Commenting upon the last year he said that it had been a strong year for the Trust.  The trustees had all contributed to the year.  In particular he commended Andy Cartwright who had managed Charles Parker Day in Salford, ably assisted by the Salford University Media Department who had provided superb facilities and background organisation.  But it was the content that stimulated.  He referred the meeting to the Annual Report and the coverage of the event saying that Andy would report on this and our plans for 2014.  The Chairman went on to say that the Report itself had been edited by Sara Parker and that too was full of interest.  He drew members’ attention to the item on Brian Vaughton’s donation to the Archive of the recording equipment he had used to make his programmes, the “Birmingham Ballads”, including the EMI Midget L2 tape recorder which is very similar to the ones Charles Parker and Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger had used for their recordings for the Radio Ballads.

3. Approval of minutes of Friends AGM held 21st September 2012 

The minutes were approved.

4.  Items arising from 2012 Friends Annual Meeting 

There were no items arising from the previous AGM.

5.  Charles Parker Day and Prize 2013 and plans for 2014

5.1  CP Day and Prize 2013  Andy Cartwright said that much of the success of the Day was due to the excellent playback facilities at the media centre.  Also the speakers provided a wide range of topics and there was much of interest.  He mentioned in particular the “re-enactment” or deconstruction of a section of the third of the Olympics Radio Ballads made by Smooth Operations and broadcast by BBC Radio 2.  The programme dealt with Munich ’72 Olympic Games[1].  John Leonard, Vince Hunt and Julie Matthews performed live and very much in the spirit of the original programmes.

Andy went on to say how well received were the contributions by the winners of this year’s Charles Parker Prize.  He observed how many successful entrants have gone on to even greater achievements and he cited last year’s winner, Jimmy Ewing, who is now a producer with BBC Radio Leeds having made some previously well received programmes.  For Charles Parker Day he presented a programme “On the Edge Too?” commissioned by Soundscape Productions dealing with a modern view of the Radio Ballad, “On the Edge”.  He referred members to his article in the Annual Report and on the Trust website.

5.2  Plans for Charles Parker Day 2014  The Chairmansaid the Trustplans for next year were intended as a commemoration of the final Radio Ballad, “The Travelling People”.  It will take place on Friday 4th April 2014.  It will also be a celebration of the opening of the home of the Archive in the new Library of Birmingham.

Andy Cartwright assisted by Peter Cox explained the plans for Charles Parker Day and the following concert.  It is intended that the focus will be on “The Travelling People” and what happened after.  This will be held in the Library of Birmingham.  There will be an evening concert also in Birmingham, though the venue is not yet certain.  It is expected to include Peggy Seeger and her reflections on the Radio Ballads.  Details of the Charles Parker Prize will be announced in the very near future.

6.  A tribute to Philip Cox  The Chairman introduced trustee Helen Lloyd who spoke about Philip’s contribution to the Trust.  She played clips of recordings she made of him speaking about his life in Birmingham as a barrister and QC and his association with Charles Parker.  She spoke about Philip’s early associations with the Trust though he did not become a trustee until the 1990s.  She explained that the recordings were made as part of the Millennium Project “The Century Speaks” and that Philip represented one of the voices of the justice system.  Details are on the British Library Oral History website, see

7.  The Cecilia Costello recordings in the Archive  The Chairman said that at the Trustees’ AGM earlier it had been agreed that the recordings in the Archive made by Charles Parker and Pam Bishop of songs sung by Mrs Cecilia Costello, which previously the Costello Family had not permitted to be made available, could be incorporated into a CD or series of CDs to be made by Rod Stradling.  This was subject to assurances required by the Library.  He then introduced Rod Stradling of Musical Traditions Records (see ) and Patrick Costello, grandson of Mrs Cecilia Costello who explained matters further.

Rod Stradling said that he was compiling a CD or CDs of the complete recordings of Mrs Costello as part of a larger project of issuing the full recorded repertoire of many English singers whose folk songs were considered as “source” material.  He had obtained the approval for this project from Patrick Costello on behalf of his family.

Patrick Costello explained that he had a great respect for the work of Charles Parker and was very keen to assist in Rod Stradling’s project.  He described some aspects of his grandmother’s life and the background to her songs.  Rod Stradling then played two recordings of Mrs Costello singing.

There was considerable debate around the copyright issues, especially obtaining permission from the BBC.  However, Rod Stradling said he thought the BBC had been accommodating and he was grateful for their help. Pam Bishop then asked if it was possible to obtain copies of leaflets for the CD collections especially the recordings of Mrs Costello and Queen Caroline Hughes as she featured in “The Travelling People”.  They would be used to for Charles Parker Day.  The Secretary said that he would liaise with Rod in this connection.  Secretary’s note!  The Musical Traditions catalogue also includes CDs of other gypsy performers

Action:  Secretary

 8.  Cube Cinema presentations of the Radio Ballads  The Chairman introduced Barry Parsons who explained that Cube Cinema (see ) of which he is responsible for their audio output, is based in Bristol.  He organises musical events and plans to have a weekend devoted to the Radio Ballads in May 2014.  There was discussion on the background and aims of the event as well as other activities including “In the Dark” feature with Nina Garthwaite.  Cathy Mackerras said she found the parallels with Banner Theatre, and Peter Cheeseman’s work in Stoke-on-Trent, which was continuing, of great interest.  She linked this with the more general need for greater development of alternative approaches towards working class culture and the performing arts.

9.  Discussion and Any other Business.  

9.1  The Chairman thanked all those who had contributed to the previous discussions and the speakers whose presentations had stimulated the debates.

9.2  Sarah Bayliss said that she was working on a programme for RTE on the life of James Phelan; tramp, writer and broadcaster.  She wanted to know if there had been any contact with Charles Parker and if there might be something in the Archive.  The Secretary explained that he had had an exchange of emails with Sarah regarding her interest although he had little to offer in terms of information beyond what was relatively accessible on the internet.  He said, though, that he would be surprised if Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker, given their associations with travellers, had not had some contact and he wondered if the Ewan MacColl/Peggy Seeger Archive at Ruskin College might be a source of information.  There was general discussion on the relative contents and accessibility of the EM/PS and CP Archives.

10.  Date, timing and location of next Friends AGM

Drawing the meeting to a close the Chairman expressed his thanks to everyone for a stimulating meeting and he looked forward to seeing everyone at the Charles Parker Day on 4th April next year and at the concert.  He said that Trustees had previously agreed that the AGM next year would be at this location and time (i.e. starting at 3.00p.m.) on 16th October.  He then declared the meeting closed at 4.40p.m.

Ian M Parr
Hon Secretary – contact by email

[1]There is no longer a “listen again” feature on the BBC website.  However the following link gives access to clips from the programmes –

Comments are closed.