Buxton’s Orchestra Days

Ian Gregory, volunteer archivist at Buxton Museum, gives us some insight into another of the lesser-known collections he’s been working on:

For the last two weeks, I have been editing images of programmes for The Spa Orchestra of Buxton. These date from the 1940s and include summer seasons (May to September) and winter and Christmas concerts.


There are, unsurprisingly, differences between live entertainment then and now but also parallels. The programmes are overwhelmingly Classical apart from a little Rodgers and Hammerstein and Irving Berlin. Many end with the National Anthem. There are names of composers now forgotten although many are still familiar.


Nevertheless, there is a general parallel between then and now; present day Buxton has a thriving arts festival and fringe festival. The festival began in 1979 and has gone from strength to strength. The Buxton Fringe is now a good size with young people involved in live productions.


Buxton Opera House was a bingo hall in the 1970s. Today it is a popular theatre hosting a variety of shows and talks all year round. Could it be that after a decline in the mid-20th century, live entertainment made a comeback? Styles and tastes may have changed but the idea that even small towns can have live theatre is alive and well.


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