In 1976 two separate groups based in the West Midlands area, both aspiring to sing in barbershop harmony and inspired by a previously shown BBC TV program of the American Barbershop Convention/Contest, became aware of their joint existence and contact was made. We discovered that in 1974, the British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) had been founded and that their 1976 Convention Show would take place in September at Birmingham Town Hall. Rod Butcher of Menzies High School teacher’s group and Dennis Hodgetts of the “K&J” quartet were present in the audience; the resultant enthusiasm engendered by the superb entertainment cemented the the resolve to form an embryo club from both factions. With Chris Harker, music teacher, as our guest director, the school music room provided an excellent rehearsal venue. Gradually the group began to flourish and in 1977 the West Midlands Barbershop Harmony Club was founded, with Geoff Robinson as its first Chairman.
On February 11th 1978, a group of 7 or 8 from the club, with wives and friends, travelled by minibus to Stroud in Gloucester to see a show given by the BABS Champions, Great Western Chorus from Bristol. During the afterglow, the Anvil Chorus representatives sang “Have A Happy Day”, and impressed Bristol CD and BABS music chairman, Mike Charles, sufficiently to pass the audition to gain admission to BABS. This was confirmed at the A.G.M. in Cambridge in April 1978.
Also in 1978, WMBHC attended their first convention at Caister, as mike-warmers, the same year. In 1988 at the BABS annual convention in Harrogate, Anvil Chorus, under the direction of Rod Butcher, came third with an unknown score (High 60s?) still their best position to date, although recent scores under the direction of Rod Butcher have been better getting 69.4% in 2018 (11th) and 69.7% in 2019 (10th) – showing how much the Barbershop standard has improved over the years.
1.Geoff Robinson, 2.Jake Shaw, 3.Les Whiles, 4.Tim Nelson, 5.Dennis Hodgetts, 6.Ray Sands, 7.John Riseborough, 8.Ben Sides, 9.Chris Harker, 10Rick Scott, 11Paul While.
1.Tony Robinson, 2.Jim Swallow, 3.Colin Parsons, 4.Rod Butcher, 5.Michael sides – Director, 6.David While, 7.Stan Cox, 8.Duncan Marsh, 9.Joe Riseborough, 10.Mick Buckley.
1.Simon Hilton, 2.John Ellis, 3.Phil Hilton, 4.Glenn Chaney, 5.Peter Barlow, 6.Andrew Taylor, 7.Bob Duncan, 8.Craig Towns, 9.Don Brotherton, 10.Frank Mason.
(Total on stage: 31)