St Johns Ambulance Brigade HQ, Lionel Street, Birmingham 1950

Unknown-monthly club

The Cambridge Inn, Cambridge Street, Birmingham 1964 2nd & 4th Mondays
Date Formed:
October 5th 1950
Date Folded:
Joan Smith
Glady's Watson
Helena Cook
Alan McCullock
Ken Clark
R Lyse
T J Floyd
Miss F Tomlinson
Mr J Mendham
Early Residents:

The Birmingham Folk Song Club met on the second and fourth Mondays in the month at the Cambridge Inn, Cambridge Street, Birmingham, and started at 7.30pm. The meetings took the form of an informal song swap, encouraging everyone to sing.

The club was formed in 1950 by members of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, who thought that the song was as important as the dance.

Between 1952 and 1956 a number of concerts were arranged by the club, with Jack Armstrong, Isla Cameron and Pat Shuldham-Shaw  among the guests. It appears that they also ran events at other locations, as I have a ticket for a recital at The Friends Institute in Moseley Road dated Sat April 23rd in (I think) 1955. This can be seen in the scans below.


Joan Smith was one of the founder members of the first folk song club in Birmingham back in 1950, the following is a short piece about her early days, written by Ted Cassidy.


Joan started folk dancing at Acocks Green school in 1947, being a founder member of the dance group. Glady's Watson, who was the junior school head, ran the dance class, and introduced folk singing and Morris dancing to the pupils.

Birmingham Folk Song Club was formed in 1950, and Glady's was a founder member. Joan was certainly a member in 1951 as she was on the committee. Most of the meetings were held at the St John's Ambulance Brigade in Lionel Street. In addition to club meetings, concerts were organised on a regular basis, artists included were Michael Bell, Bob Arnold, Isla Cameron, Mary Rowland (Irish Harp), Francis & Alan Kitching, Jimmy Coleman, and a quartet comprising of Nan & Brian Fleming-Williams, Pat Shouldham-Shaw and Jean Forsyth. Joan assisted in the work for all these concerts.

In October 1957, the EFDS organised a Folk Music Festival at Cecil Sharp House, where Joan sang as a solo performer alongside Bill Astley, who was also from the Birmingham Folk Song Club. This was the last real event of the club, which failed due to lack of support in 1958.

Early In 2021 I received the minute book of the club from the estate of the late Ted Cassidy, this ran from the formation of the club in 1950 to (I believe) its demise in 1958. The minutes book has been scanned and can be seen below, however as the writing was undecipherable in places, I have transcribed them and uploaded them to the site. 

Joan then decided to start another club (see Ceilidh at the Cambridge Article).

Photo Album:
Information Sources:
Grey Cock Archives
Estate of the late Ted Cassidy

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