The barbershop singers who were the first of their kind

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With every new town built after the Second World War came new people.

And with new people came new hobbies, new clubs and new ideas.

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The Crawley Barbershop Harmony Club was one of those groups and – unlike the legions of WIs and cricket teams which popped up all over the place – this club could boast it was the first of its kind.

Formed in 1965 in a house in Parkway, Pound Hill, the group was the brainchild of Harry Danser and was pulled together after Crawley was paid a visit by the East York Barbershoppers, from Toronto.

They performed in four-part pure harmony – unaccompanied, of course – and boy could they sing!

They even paid a return visit to Canada.

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These pictures were supplied by John Noyce, whose enthusiasm for the group has not dulled even after 50 years.

He joined the group with the intention of singing bass – but so did everyone else and John was happy to stretch his vocal cords as a tenor.

Unfortunately, he was working when the group headed for Canada.

John gave a potted history of the origins of barbershop.

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It seems barber shops were the coffee shops of their day – everyone went there for a chat and to put the world to rights.

While snipping away at people’s locks, barbers were known to entertain with a song or two.

According to the Barbershop Harmony Society, the origins can be traced back to Elizabethan England where one barber in particular became quite an accomplished musician, even keeping a lute on 
the wall for the use of customers.

While barbershop died out in the UK, it took off in a big way in the USA, starting in the south before making its way across the country.

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Finally, John and his talented friends brought it back to the shores of 
Blighty!

It’s nice to be able to add another achievement to Crawley’s claims to fame.