A Short History of Leatherhead Orchestra

The exact date of founding or the orchestra is uncertain, but is is thought to have been started in 1954 by Ivy Angold as an Adult Education class at Woodville School, Leatherhead. It stopped for a time but was relaunched in about 1958 by Kathleen Riddick, when it was known as “The Wednesday Night Orchestra”. Kathleen directed with dedication and the atmosphere prevailing is reported to have been ‘professional’. Some players graduated to the Surrey Philharmonic Orchestra, of which Kathleen was the founder and conductor for many years.

There were several changes of conductor including George Bixley, Edward Kay, David deVile and Arthur Diamond. At one time the orchestra was in danger of closing due to small numbers and rising costs of Adult Education classes. It was saved by Lynda Bagg, a clarinettist, who ran it on a private basis, moving to a rather austere scout hut to reduce costs.

Robert Fowler took over conducting in about 1983 with Ruth Chappell (who is still with us) helping in the general organisation. Robert and Ruth brought the orchestra to the Leatherhead Institute, firstly in a small hall downstairs then, as numbers grew, to the main Abraham Dixon Hall upstairs.

When Robert left Leatherhead in 1997, Christopher Johns took over conducting and music direction. In the summer of 1999 Geoffrey Harvey took over, directing until his untimely death just short of ten years with us. Ian Assersohn stepped in at short notice but has had to relinquish the post due to his other commitments. Anthony Bonello has now joined us and we have settled into the new routine.

NEW There is a great deal of information available on the website, including scans of all our concert programme sheets since 1994, a list of all players who have played in our orchestra during that time, and a list of all the works performed. You can get to this information by clicking on the 'past programmes' link on the menu above.

In 2014 we celebrated our 60th anniversary

Anthony Bonello conducting the Leatherhead Orchestra