All Change at This England Magazine

This England magazine was founded in 1968 by Roy Faiers as a patriotic independent quarterly based on traditional Christian family values. A sister magazine, Evergreen, was launched in 1985 covering the whole of the UK.

During the late-1980s the company launched a record label entitled Evergreen Melodies, later renamed Yesterday’s Music. Initially it concentrated on popular music of yesteryear, especially dance bands but also famous singers and artists. The recording engineer was Eric Holmes, a walking encyclopaedia on dance bands who was joined in 1997 by Peter Worsley, alias Edmund Whitehouse and, later when Roy Faiers retired, as Percy Bickerdyke the Music Editor.

As time progressed Peter introduced light music and in 1999 was responsible for ET being awarded the magazine’s Silver Cross of St George. In 2009 he also featured ET in a new Unsung Composers series but by then he had already been beavering away behind the scenes for several years in respect of ET receiving a well-deserved national gong. Several well-known musicians had secretly added their names and letters of support to the cause, including Brian Kay, Philip Lane, Gavin Sutherland, Kenneth Alwyn, Richard Baker, John Wilson, David Ades, Alan Bunting and Professor Stephen Banfield but there seemed to be little recognition by those responsible for the awards. However, one of the British Dance Bands online music group, who had inside knowledge of how the awards were made, encouraged Peter not to give up hope but to keep the situation fluid by gradually adding further letters of support. After a decade, though, just as Peter informed Hilary that he felt there was little point in proceeding any further, ET was awarded the MBE in the New Years Honours list for 2012. Great rejoicing all round and both magazines featured the good news in both text and photos.

On the internal music scene, the magazines had steadily built up relationships with the Light Music Society and all its major supporters, also many other famous names who championed good music, including Julian Lloyd-Webber. Meanwhile the Unsung Composers series featured splendid light music figures such as Lord Berners, Matthew Curtis, Ronald Corp, Sir Granville Bantock, Philip Lane, Montague Phillips, Peter Cork, George Lloyd, Alfred Reynolds, Arthur Butterworth, Anthony Hedges, William Lloyd Webber and Armstrong Gibbs. When Peter proposed a CD of light music by Charles Williams, on to the scene arrived Ken Wilkins, whose encyclopaedic knowledge and collection of recorded light music is as fine as anyone in the land. With the additional encouragement and assistance of the late David Ades and Alan Bunting, a large number of light music CDs were quickly released, many of which featured tunes never heard on CD before, among them one of Peter’s favourites, Baby Jumbo, a short piece used to play out The Clitheroe Kid on radio. Between them, Alan Bunting and Ken Wilkins, particularly the latter in recent years, made available a treasure trove of light music but just as plans were already well advanced for light music CDs well into 2019, a bombshell exploded.

When Mr. Faiers retired the company had been sold to D.C. Thomson, the Scottish publishing giant who publicly acknowledged delight at their acquisition. Sadly, things turned sour after a relatively short time when the whole customer services department was made redundant and their jobs outsourced. This turned out to be a colossal mistake, later publicly acknowledged in a letter to readers by Ellis Watson, now the CEO at D.C. Thomson. The editorial department was also drastically reduced in size and moved to smaller premises where Peter and Eric continued to turn out several CDs a year, their final total being almost 300, including a fine series on London musicals, an all-instrumental series of eight top dance bands, and three radio and TV themed signature tunes, as fine a collection of tuneful music as one could wish for.

After several years of non-interference in the magazine’s style and output, however, late last year things began to stir behind the scenes in Scotland and although This England celebrated its Golden Anniversary this year it was sadly and suddenly cut down in its prime when the Cheltenham office was abruptly closed down in May and everyone made redundant. As if this was not bad enough the two Editors’ superb and accurate farewell explanatory letters to loyal subscribers of both This England and Evergreen were removed without warning, so that readers are still unaware of the impending change. The reason subsequently given was that the editorials would have damaged future sales. No request was made for the letters to be amended, however, they were simply removed without the editorial team being contacted.

There were no other magazines on the market remotely like This England and Evergreen and it remains to be seen what their future content will look like. Sadly, the music content had already begun to change with CDs being bought in cheaply from other sources, some of which know little or nothing about light music, indeed Peter had to completely rewrite the inlay cards for a 10 CD set featuring light music radio and TV theme tunes which was riddled with mistakes.

Farewell to Evergreen Melodies and Yesterday’s Music but at least the final CD was a corker!

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