[From Manx Quarterly, #21, 1920]


Died May 26th, 1919.

Joseph Daniel Looney
Joseph Daniel Looney

The announcement that Mr Joseph Daniel Looney, of The Esplanade, Douglas, had died suddenly at his residence on May 26th, came as a great shock to Manx people, and particularly to such of them as are interested in music. Mr Looney had been out and about as usual, and up to 11 o'clock an Monday there were no outward signs that he was not in his customary good health. He was, however, overcome with great suddenness, and succumbed about one hour afterwards. The news of his death came as a considerable surprise, and the regret which in any case would have been experienced and expressed was emphasised owing to the circumstances attendant upon his passing.

The late Mr Looney undoubtedly possessed musical genius of a high order — perhaps he was the greatest force, so far as music is concerned, ever produced in the Isle of Man. His bent for the science of sweet sounds was evinced while he was yet a boy resident at Foxdale, but its principal development came after he removed to Douglas. When he came to the town as a youth he followed his calling as a journeyman tailor, but his leisure hours were devoted to the study of the music to which he was so passionately devoted. Mainly he was self-taught, nevertheless he attained to a proficiency such as is seldom vouchsafed to students who have the advantage of the best masters. While still in his early twenties was appointed organist and choirmaster of the Primitive Methodist Church in Wellington-street, Douglas, a position which he held with much acceptance for several years. Eventually he became a teacher of music and singing, and practised his profession successfully for many years. He had a large number of pupils, to whose instruction he devoted himself constantly wholeheartedly, with the result that many of them gained laurels in the musical world. The possessor of a good or voice, he while a young man was the first Manxman to achieve renown in connection with competition singing. He competed about 40 years ago. There was a very large entry, and notwithstanding the fact that the entrants included many singers who eventually made big names for themselves in vocalism, he carried off second prize. Competition in solo classes was, however, distasteful to him so far as he was personally concerned, and he never repeated the experiment. Where he excelled and where he achieved brilliance was as a trainer of choristers. In this connection he had not a compeer in the Isle of Man, and it is very doubtful whether he was outshone anywhere. As a chorus master, he first came into prominence in connection with his training and conductorship of the Excelsior Glee Club — a combination which made a big reputation in the Isle of Man about thirty years ago. He got his great chance, however, when music festivals became such a rage in the North of England. After winning premier honours in a minor contest at Morecambe, he took an eighty-voice choir, representative of the Isle of (Man, to compete in the principal choral class at the National Eisteddfod held at Bangor about fifteen years ago. Of necessity, his choir was somewhat scratch of constitution, and he was also limited in regard to opportunity for training. Nevertheless he made a fine bid for success, and was barely beaten for first prize. As it was, he was a very good second. Shortly afterwards he achieved something in the nature of a record, his choir gaining first prize in the chief choral competitions held at the Morecambe, Blackpool, and Isle of Man Festivals in the one year — a feat that no conductor has ever equalled. Mr Looney's forte, so far as choir training was concerned, was his wonderful chiaroscuro — his expressions of light and shade were a revelation in artistry. Whether in the piano, mezzo, or forte passages, his choir excelled under his compelling baton; while his instinct for word effect was unerring. Altogether, he was a very great conductor, and had his lot of life been cast in England he would undoubtedly have made a big name for himself.


The funeral of the late Mr Looney took place on Thursday, May 29, and. was well attended, among those present being a large number of people interested in music. From the Esplanade, the cortege proceeded to St. George's Church, and was met at the principal gate by the clergy and surpliced choir. As the coffin was borne into the church, Mr G. J. Burtonwood, the organist, played Mendelssohn's

" O rest in the Lord." Canon Kermode, Vicar of St. George's, read the first portion of the Service for the Burial of the Dead, and the, Rev J. H. C. Bevington, curate of St. George's, read the lesson The choir chanted Psalm xxxix, and sang the hymns, " Hush, Blessed are the Dead," and " On the Resurrection morning." At the conclusion of the service in church, Mr Burtonwood played the Dead March in "Saul" on the organ. The cortege then proceeded to Braddan Cemetery, where interment took place, the committal portion of the service being read by Canon Kermode. The principal mourners were Miss Looney (daughter), Mr W. A. Craine (half-brother), and Mrs Curphey (half sister). Several beautiful floral tributes were laid on the coffin.

SYMPATHY FROM THE. MANX MUSIC FESTIVAL COMMITTEE. Speaking at the annual meeting in connection' with the Manx Music Festival on Tuesday, Mr F. C. Poulter said it was his painful duty to gofer to the great loss which Manx music had sustained in the death of Mr Looney. Mr Looney was a member of the Festival Committee for many years, and served it faithfully and well. He (Mr Poulter) could testify to the great interest which Mr Looney took in music. In early boyhood — about forty years ago — he went to Liverpool to compete as a tenor vocalist in a competition held in Hengler's Circus. Adjudication was then by vote of the audience, and Air Looney was awarded second prize. Since then he had worked very hard in the cause of music in the Isle of Man, and eventually he became a professional teacher, and many of his pupils had attained distinction and :honour. As a chair trainer and conductor he had accomplished great things. Thirty years ago Air Looney took over the old Excelsior Choir — first as a male voice choir and then as a mixed choir. The choir gave many concerts in the old Gaiety Theatre, then known as the, Victoria Hall, in Prospect hill, and made a great name. Mr Looney, too, was exceedingly successful at music festivals with his choirs. In 1907 he had the proud distinction of winning the, challenge cup in the principal competition at the Isle of Man, Morecambe, and Blackpool Festivals — a very fine achievement. Mr Looney would be greatly missed as a landmark of music in the Isle of Man. He (Mr Poulter) had known him for forty years, and had never once heard him complain of the decision or remarks of adjudicators in connection with choir competitions in which his choirs took part. He asked the meeting to give expression to their sympathy with Mr Looney's widow and family. He was a devoted husband and a loving father, and the family in their. sad bereavement would, he (Mr Poulter) was sure, have the sympathy of all present.

Mrs Laughton, seconding the vote, of sympathy, said she did so with very great regret. Mr Looney was always a staunch supporter of the Music Festival, and gave them of his :best to promote a higher standard of music in the Island. .

The Mayor (who presided), in putting the motion, said he endorsed all that had been said with regard to Mr Looney, in whom he was sure the world of music had lost a great friend.

Those present at the meeting rose by way of signifying their agreement with the resolution.



Died July 15th, 1919

Mr Frederick Charles Poulter, of Oakwood, Mount Bradda, Douglas, died with startling suddenness at his residence on Tuesday, July 15th. Earlier in the day, Mr Poulter had been undergoing dental treatment, and soon after returning to the house he had a seizure to which succumbed. The cause of death was heart disease, from which Mr Poulter had been suffering for some time. He, however, bore his affliction cheerfully, and knew that he was affected. Though a most useful and estimable townsman, Mr Poulter was not a native of Douglas. He came to the Island from Sheffield close on 40 years ago, and for some time acted as manager of a depot for the sale of printed music. An accomplished pianist, he quickly gained a considerable connection as a teacher of that instrument — a connection which he more than maintained to the end. He was also a very able performer upon the organ, and over twenty years ago he succeeded the late Mr J. A. Mylrea as organist of St. Thomas's Church, Douglas, a position he continued to hold with much acceptance to the church authorities and congregation to his death. Mr Poulter, too, had a fine mastery of the cornet, and for a goodly portion of his life — to within five years of the end of it — he was bandmaster to the Isle of Man Volunteers. In this connection he was awarded the Volunteer Decoration for long and meretitious service. As a chorus master and conductor, Mr Poulter excelled. He was responsible for the training of several choirs, which gained a high reputation at Insular concerts and entertainments — notably the Douglas Choral Union, of which body he was for many years conductor. He was musical director, too, for years of the Gaiety Theatre orchestra and subsequent to the outbreak of the war he was engaged in a similar capacity at Villa Marina. His interest in music was not merely professional — he was an enthusiast in the cause, and devoted much time and ability to fostering a love of music in the Manx people;

He was a hard-working member of the Manx Music Festival Committee, of which body he was appointed chairman at the last general meeting. For a brief period he carried on the Belvedere Hotel, Loch Promenade, Douglas, but relinquished the enterprise soon after the outbreak of war upon purchasing Oakwood, a beautiful residence in Upper Douglas. He took a very painstaking interest in the public life of Douglas, and was a member of the Douglas Board of Guardians, the Douglas School Board, and the Eastern District Higher Education Board. All these positions he held for many years. Of the Board of Guardians, he was appointed chairman at the last annual meeting, while he was an ex-chairman of the Higher Education Board. He was, too, chairman of the Finance Committee of the School Board. In the performance of all his public duties, he brought earnestness, zeal and independence to bear, and by his colleagues and constituents alike, he was held in high respect. A. prominent Freemason, he was a past-master of the Tynwald Lodge (1242), and he was also a past-provincial grand officer of the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Isle of Man, he having served the office of Provincial Grand Secretary. Socially, Mr Poulter was a great favourite. He had a most happy disposition; he was broad in his sympathies; tolerant of the failings of his fellows; and well-informed on most subjects. Notwithstanding his organic infirmity, Mr Poulter was an active man, and he by no means looked his 61 years. He married Miss Grace Johnson, only daughter of the late Mr Joseph Johnson, of Douglas, and sister of Mr F. D. Johnson, the well-known Douglas auctioneer. Mrs Poulter survives her husband, as do the two children of the marriage. Mr Sydney Poulter and Miss Marjorie Poulter. Mr Sydney Poulter, by the way, joined the theatrical profession, and has " made good" as an actor under the nom d'etage of Robert Brasher. The funeral took place on Friday, July 18th afternoon. The cortege proceeded from Oakwood to St. Thomas's Church, where the first Portion of the service for the burial of the dead was held, the Rev R. B. Jolly, Vicar, being the officiant. A feature of the service was the beautiful choral singing of St. 'Thomas's choir, augmented for the occasion by many singers from other places of worship in Douglas. Mr George J. Burtonwood (St. George's) presided at the organ. After the service in St. Thomas's, the coffin containing body was conveyed to Kirk Braddan Cemetery, where interment took place.


Died April 30th, 1919.

At the ripe old age of 88 Mr Thomas Grindley, of Mona Terrace, Douglas, died on Wednesday April 30th. For over half a century Mr Grindley was intimately associated wall public life in the Isle of Man and in his day he rendered the Manx community considerable service. A native of Manchester, he entered the teaching profession and as a young man he had charge of a school at Laxey. Subsequently he became headmaster at Port St Mary school and afterwards at Marown. About 35 years ago he retired from teaching for which he had never any strong love and devoted himself to literary and journalistic pursuits. He had ever been a student, and his reading was very wide and profound — particularly in history and geology. An ardent politician he took a great interest in Imperial and Manx public affairs. He wrote much on the subjects to which he devoted himself, and his writings were ever marked by thoughtful consideration and accomplished diction — his pen was both ready and graceful. For fully fifty years he was a power in Manx journalism. He was engaged for a considerable period in connection with the editorial staff of the "Isle of Man Examiner" and was the author of many convincing and influential articles which appeared in the paper about thirty years ago on matters of public concern. He was also a contributor to the leading columns of the " Isle of Man Times". In fact his connection with that newspaper practically lasted until a few months of his death. At one time he bore a very active part in politics and was associated with mangy fought elections. He founded and was secretary of the old voluntary committee for advertising the island which in its day did exceedingly valuable work. For several years, compiled the annual statistical abstract issued by the Manx Government. As an authority upon the history, archaeology and geology of the Island he had few equals and he wrote exhaustively and informatively concerning them. Although in his last years he was handicapped by failing eyesight he continued in full enjoyment of his mental faculties and to within two months of his death he was fairly active of body and maintained his interest in public affairs. His wife, who prior to marriage was Miss Esther Maltby, a daughter of Mr Maltby, partner with the late Mr William Dalrymple in the working of the Union Mills, predeceased him some years ago. Five sons and four daughters survive him. The sons are Mr R. J. Grindley, chief reporter on the staff of the "Isle of Man Times; Mr T. Grindley, contractor, now in Canada Capt. W. Grindley of the United States Army, Mr F. Grindley, formerly of the " Isle of Man Times" reporting staff is now in Canada; and Mr Walter Grindley, also an ex-member of the " Isle of Man Times" reporting staff, and now the holder of a responsible position in connection with the Oldham Cotton Spinners' Association.


Died May 16th 1919.

To the great sorrow of all her numerous acquaintances Mrs Ann Helena Davidson, widow of the late Mr J. J. Davidson, jeweller and watchmaker, Douglas; and eldest daughter of the late Mr John Kerruish, of Douglas, died at her residence 34 Peel Road, Douglas, on May 13. Mrs Kerruish was a most estimable and kindly lady, prominent in social and religious work having for object the well-being of humanity. She was a zealous member of the Wesleyan Methodist body in Douglas and constantly engaged in church activities. The funeral took place on Friday May 16th and was largely attended. After service in Victoria Street Church interment took place at the Borough Cemetery.


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