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Local Miner wins National Welsh Eisteddfod

Debbie Porter

To the west of Tunstall lies the mines ‘Talk- o’th Hill’ and this was where James Whewall grew up in his youth. He became a choir master for the Wesleyan chapel and there he founded a juvenile choir for competiting in local singing competitions. James Whewall choir took first prize.

Talke juvenile choir went from strength to strength and over the years the colliery choir took more prizes than any other in the Midlands. Eventually they reached the stage when they could no longer be treated as juniors. 

James Whewall was also a miner but due to a very serious accident when working late one night this ended his career as a miner. Not knowing Whewall was in the cage, it was sent down to the sump where it struck water. Whewall was injured and nearly drowned. After this he was detremined not to go into a pit again. He went on to work as an insurance collector, which enabled him to organise an adult choir ‘The Talke and District Prize Choir’

In 1900 Whewall entered his choir in the Welsh National Eisteddfod, where they competed in the smaller choirs. At the same time Garner ( a local man who learnt to be a chorister from the parish church in Kingsley near Cheadle) had entered his choir the ‘Potteries and District Choral Society’. Garner won first prize and 200 guineas. This encouraged Whewall to make his choir larger and entered the Welsh National Eisteddfod. They took first prize in 1901 and 200 guineas. Prepared for the  Welsh, Whewall won again in 1902 and 1904. Whewall also won in Rhyl and Caernarvon in 1906. The North Staffordshire District Choral Society could win whenever it cared to sing at the Welsh National festivals.

The North Staffordshire District Choral Society went on to take part in some historic performances in Birmingham, Manchester and London. This brought a new kind of patronage into the district, the patronage of the musician. 

This medal can be purchased in our March 10th Antique & FIne Art sale – Lot 850 – Medal with paperwork and a newspaper article about the event.