The Wolverines
Donald Ashworth (Donald passed away on 23rd October 2013)



I note from reading your "News", Fred, that there are a couple of references to "The Wolverines" and the occasion of the inauguration in 1957 of Rochdale Jazz Club.

The band was formed in 1954 and the original personnel were Jim Fielding (Clarinet), Eric Mainwaring (trumpet), Harry Ashworth
(piano), Ted Jay (drums) and myself, Don Ashworth on Trombone. In 1955 John Taylor replaced Eric on trumpet and the band continued to play for many years. At various times several of today's very active, excellent musicians, played with the Wolverines.

The Wolverines were the resident Jazz Band for some time at Rochdale Jazz Club when it was based at the Clock Face and I recall the inauguration in January 1957.

Amongst other venues we played, The Cavern, when allegedly the Beatles played our interval spot and, indeed, The Wolverines name appears on the Cavern wall of fame carved into a brick! We also played at the Sportsman, Thatched House and the MSG in Manchester.

I am now 80 years old and, over the years, apart from playing in the Wolverines I have depped with several Manchester bands and was a member of Maurice Pike's Panama Jazz Band during the 1970's. I have not played now for some years. As time passes there only three of the original Wolverines band still alive, namely Jim Fielding, Eric Mainwaring (Canada) and myself.

Donald Ashworth

News Items

  • 15/01/12 - "Hello Fred, Dave Berry's note prompts me to say that I too remember Brenda Tomkins (as she then was) from the days when she played piano with The Oriole Jazzband. The band visited Rochdale Jazz Club on several occasions in the late nineteen-fifties. In between numbers Brenda would sit sideways on the piano stool with a radiant smile when Peter Kennedy swapped repartee with the audience (the audience didn't stand a chance!). In The Oriole, Colin Tomkins played trumpet, and Peter the clarinet. The trombonist may have been Eric Brierley and the drummer was called Keith, but banjo and string bass I don't recall at all. The Rochdale Jazz Club was a frontier outpost of the MSG, and to inaugurate it in 1957, Jenks promoted a jazz band ball at the Rochdale Fire Station Hall (although the club's venue was The Old Clock Face Hotel in Lord Street). The Crescent Jazz Band - Dave Berry, Colin Knight, Dave Potts, Denis Gilmore and the Haslam brothers - shared the stand with a local band, The Wolverines. Happy days - and happy memories". - Alwyn Smith

  • 16/01/12 - "Just looked at your news page and see that someone remembers me from the Oriole Jazz band! Goodness! That is going back a bit I think 1955 when Colin and I set up a band with Pete Kennedy on clarinet, Keith on drums( I've forgotten his surname) and a young Harvey Tattersall on banjo... think he changed his name to Mark when he took up trombone and played with the Southside Stompers. We had Colin's cousin Gary on trombone for a while.. We played our first gig at The Thatched House and think we got 10s6d each! Then we played the Sportsman's for 1 . I remember The Wolverines and Ye Olde Clock House in Rochdale. I also read Dave Berry's note and will you please send my good wishes to him and family I recall him visiting our house in Alkrington with his family a few times. By the way, the Crescent's drummer was Dennis Grundy and bass player Norman Slater. Happy days and lots of fun". - Brenda Canty Forrest.

In Week-of Variety

Formed early in 1954, the Wolverines Jazz Band, which was playing at the Hippodrome last night (Friday) and is due to appear again to-night, contains quite a number of personnel from the Norden district.. At the beginning it had five players, but the present formation numbers six. Although it originated in Norden, it has done most of its playing "away from home," mostly in the Manchester, Bury and Wigan areas, finding that the type of music in which it specialises is more in demand in these areas than it is in Rochdale. Members of the band are H Ashworth (piano) and D. Ashworth (trombone), who are brothers, J. Fielding (clarinet), John Taylor (trumpet), Peter Hoyle (drums) and (the only lady in the formation) Ann Larkey, who plays the banjo and who incidentally, having received the banjo for a Christmas present, taught herself to play.


Jim,  Eric, Don and Rod


26/07/14 -

In the course of researching a review I was to write on The White Eagle Jazz Band's visit to "Jazz on a Sunday" here in Rochdale I came across a contribution to your pages by the late Donald Ashworth.  Donald was recalling the formation in 1954 of "The Wolverines" and reflecting that other than himself there were only two of its original members still alive, namely Jim Fielding and Eric Mainwaring (in Canada).  By pure coincidence an 82 year old Eric walked into our club last Sunday trumpet in hand and, after having his bona fides verified by a several of those present who could remember having heard "The Wolverines" at The Clock Face" all those years ago, was invited to sit in with the band which he did to great acclaim on "Doctor Jazz", "Blueberry Hill" and "I Found A New Baby".  Keep the faith, young Eric.  There are increasingly few of us left.

Alan Lawless   

05/08/14 -

The Wolverines that I joined played at the Eagle in Rochdale. I too well remember the late Don Ashworth on trombone, known for his rugged no-nonsense approach. Another stalwart of that band was Dave Moore on drums. Some time ago, Dave lent me a tape of that era, with the proviso that I would convert it to CD. I had planned to complete this task in time for his Birthday last Saturday. Sadly, I did not meet this target!

Noel Broadgate


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