By Dan Waddell
Last updated 2011-02-17
The end of the silent movie era also spelt the end of the bands that accompanied the films, however, and Colin lost his trade almost overnight. This coincided with the economic depression of the 1920s, and work was scarce. But he was determined to make his living as a musician, and by sheer persistence he obtained a job as piano-player at the White Hart Hotel in Thorne.
It was a bit of a come-down for Colin. He had been used to playing to well-dressed, well-behaved audiences, and here he found himself playing in a boozy pub. Lesley says that in order to make the job more fulfilling he would start work early, and play his favourite concertos and overtures to an empty bar, before the drinkers drifted in. Time passed, and so too did word of these impromptu concerts. Soon music lovers from across the area were making the trip to hear this talented musician play.
Lesley's grandmother, Elizabeth, was also from a musical family. Her father, Frederick, was a travelling musician. He travelled across the north of England in the 19th century, playing to workers in packed pubs and clubs in places such as Whitehaven and Maryport. He also appears to have lied about his age so convincingly that he was conscripted during World War One and was allowed to entertain the troops on the piano. Once his itinerant days were over he settled in Rotherham, where he sold pianos. These were no longer luxuries, they were a common item in all but the poorest households, the source of an evening's entertainment and the focal point for the whole family.
Lesley was fascinated to find out about her musical inheritance, but she also discovered how, in amongst the intriguing and interesting bits of a family's history, it is often the discovery of a black sheep - with a story that could be lifted from the pages of a novel - that makes family history so exciting and surprising.