I’M sorry I can’t talk right now. I’m in the middle of arresting someone.” This was the Examiner’s second contact with Gary Bray, a policeman living in Essex.
The first was an email asking readers if they could identify the smart-looking man in the picture below.
The same man was a member of the Underbank Wesleyan Physical Culture Club, a sort of gym club without the cross trainers and aeroballs.
Gary has never lived in Holmfirth, but his distant relatives, the Brays and the Booths, are still all over the valley.
Gary – when he had finished doing his arresting – confirmed that both branches of the family go back at least 200 years in the Holmfirth area.
Grandmother Marjorie Booth had a relative – possibly a sister – who was a model for Bamforth’s earliest postcards, which often had a moral theme.
They preceded Bamforth’s attempts at movie-making. These, at the beginning of the last century, meant that for a short period more films were being made in Holmfirth than in Hollywood.
The British weather spoiled it for Holmfirth..
Hollywood won simply because they had more hours of daylight a year and more guaranteed sun which in the early days before studio lighting was essential for filming.
Kenneth Bray married Marjorie and the couple lived in Dunford Road, Holmfirth. This was where Gary’s father, Edward Stuart Bray, lived for a time.
Gary knows that other branches of the family – which he believes goes back at least two centuries – were at Underbank and Cinderhills.
“When I was clearing out my grandmother’s stuff – she died two years ago – I found this mystery man was in a lot of photographs, but he’s not named,” said Gary.
“I’m pretty sure he had a connection with Holme Valley Male Voice Choir.”
This choir was the brainchild of Irving Silverwood who founded it on July 21, 1910, at the Royal Oak, Thongsbridge, and was its conductor for the next 40 years.
It rapidly became nationally known and at least two minor composers wrote music specifically for it. But in November 1950 Mr Silverwood said he was too old to continue conducting. The choir members almost unanimously decided to disband.
So all the clues are there. The name of the man in the pictures, however, remains a mystery.
Can anyone help? Contact John Avison on 01484 437719 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.