The family of a Chorley man who played in the famous Bert Barker’s Band are trying to track down a song he recorded, as he marks his 100th birthday this year.
John Turner played the double bass in one of the best bands in Chorley, and was a regular fixture at all of the dance halls in town.
His grand-daughter, Kelly Manton, has been in touch to share his story and appeal to Flashback readers for more information about her beloved grandfather’s heydays.
She says: “Nobody really knows too much about his time with the band, but we know he was a member for a few years.
“His favourite place was the Tudor, which is the Last Orders now.
“He met my grandma there, Olive. It’s a really cute story because he was performing and they met, and he cycled her all the way to her home in Coppull at the end of the night – her on his handlebars!”
“It’s a really cute story because he was performing and they met, and he cycled her all the way to her home in Coppull at the end of the night – her on his handlebars!”John Turner’s grand-daughter, Kelly Manton
Sadly John, who turned 100 recently, suffers from dementia, so the family are trying to trace anyone who may have more information or pictures from when he was in the band – including the descendants of Bert himself.
Flashback featured a story in October 2011, which would have been Bert’s 100th birthday – he had passed away in May that year.
John is pictured second from the left in the bottom photograph on the original Flashback page, and top right playing the double bass in the top picture.
“He once told us that they’d recorded a song,” Kelly continues. “We’re trying to find it. We think it’s called ‘Melancholy Rose’ or ‘Melancholy Baby’, so it could be a version of Frank Sinatra’s song.” John, who was born in Devonshire Road, Chorley, now lives in Collingwood Road.
He and late wife Olive had six children together, as well as 11 grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.
He’s also briefly told the family about his time during the RAF and his involvement in the D-Day landings; Kelly says he went in on the boats and never actually flew a plane.
He went on to work at the ROF in Euxton.
Bert Barker’s Band was founded in 1932 and they soon became hot favourites all around Chorley, including St Mary’s on Saturday nights and Adlington Ambulance Hall.
The band’s success spread and they became the all Cheshire Champions in 1937.
The achievement took the band to the all British Championship at Blackpool, attended by bands from all over the country.
But then the Second World War came, taking half of the band’s players for service.
Bert managed to keep it going until he himself was called up by the RAF in 1942.
When he came home, and after freelancing for a year in other groups, Bert eventually formed his own band again, playing at Woodlands Hostel in Southport Road in 1944.
They also held a regular spot at Washington Hall in Euxton on Thursday nights where they had a following with United States Air Force.
In 1948, the Mayor and Mayoress took the floor at the Tudor Ballroom to officially re-open the venue and from then on, Bert Barker’s became the resident band.
At the time the Tudor was the place where everyone would flock on a Saturday in pursuit of dancing and maybe even a future spouse, which turned out to be the case for John and Olive.
The shilling hop started at 7.30pm with around 40 girls lining one side of the hall and a dozen lads down the other.
But just before closing time at the pubs, another troop of men would come in for a waltz or a foxtrot with the ladies.
- If you have any details which could help Kelly and her family find out more about John’s time in the band, Contact Flashback on 01772 838104, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.