NFJO Royal Festival Hall Concert
This article was put on the site on 20/10/05


Hello Fred, I thought you would be interested in the follow-up to your forwarded e mail to me from Don Spearman on the above topic. In 2001, I posed the question on your news page, "Did anyone know if the 1951 NFJO Royal Festival Hall Concert had been issued on CD."  Earlier this month, I received the email which you kindly forwarded from Don Spearman, and the story goes as follows !

Dear Geoff,

I came across your message -guestbook 2001, regarding your recording, having typed in the key words National Federation of Jazz Organisations. You might be interested to know that I was there! I was only two years old!! My God Father was The Marquis of Donegall who was President of the NFJO at that time. My mother had previously worked for the Donegall's wife before she was married - Jean Coombe (Watney, Coombe and Read beer). Mum and my Canadian dad attended with me apparently presenting an enamelled NJF badge to HRH Princess Elizabeth ( according to The Daily Mirror). Princess Margaret had planned to attend but she had German Measles. I still have a copy of the Daily Mirror for that day and a couple of photographs taken that evening. Musicians featured are Greame Bell and his Australian Jazz Band, Humphrey Lyttelton playing 'The Thin Red Line' said to be one of the Princess's favourites, Mick Mulligen- I like Hot Rock, and The Crane River Jazz Band. Should the recording become available on CD, I would like to purchase a copy.


Don Spearman

Hello Don
Thanks for a very interesting piece of background to the NFJO 1951 concert.
As far as I can see, this has not been released on CD, but I now have the technology to produce a CD from LP's !!

Dear Geoff,

The CD went straight out of the envelope and into the player! Thanks for such a professional disc and presentation. The disc was great!! with excellent reproduction. I had been expecting a bit of an anticlimax, but sounds like it was a cracking evening. Thanks for the commentary too. By all means share my (insignificant) involvement with the evening with Fred. If you or Fred want a copy of the Daily Mirror report of the evening I can get a copy. The commentary mentions a Lord Donegall report of the evening in the Jazz Journal. Any idea where I might get a copy of the report?

For your interest Lord Donegall had a recording studio at his London Hyde Park Gate home. I have a couple of records from the late forty's recorded onto 78s made of metal with a black faces (sorry I'm not technical!) One of them is of me at two months and my dad!... clearly of no interest!! The other is of Bing Crosby and friends having a private jam. The record I have has 'I've got my Captain working for me now'' and ' Feudin' and Fighting' '. The label Is printed Donegall Recording - Not for resale and the label is hand written. I have a later vinyl LP recording with a picture of the studio on the sleeve.



I can be contacted at - randg.brooks* (replace * with @)
Geoff Brooks


The correspondence on the legendary NFJO concert on September 14, 1951 sent me reminiscing. The Merseysippi Jazz Band played there, in their pre-two trumpet days (John Lawrence was already installed in the trumpet chair). The preceding evening, the band had played on the Royal Iris, for a "Riverboat Shuffle" down the River Mersey, an event I recall vividly..

I was not at the NFJO concert, but I remember the dates well, not least because it was the weekend before I started National Service!

Some years later, I joined the northern branch of the NFJO as a bandleader, and' along with Dick Goodwin of the MJB, attended meetings at the Midland Hotel Manchester, presided over by the noble Marquis.


Ralph "Bags" Watmough

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