John Caddick-Adams

Talented viola player John Caddick-Adams, who dedicated nearly 60 years to the North Staffs Symphony Orchestra, died on 17 July, 2008, aged 84.

Mr Caddick-Adams, formerly of The Brampton, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, died from lung cancer. He was managing director of tile manufacturing business John Caddick & Son in Cliff Vale until its closure in the late 1980s.

Music was the major love of his life. After taking up the violin as an eight-year-old, he went on to lead the violas in the NSSO for 40 years. He was also the orchestra’s secretary from December 1949 until 1994. Orchestra treasurer Margaret Legg said: "John was totally dedicated to the orchestra. It was his life. "He was always enthusiastic and was interested in what other musicians were doing. He is sadly missed."

Mr Caddick-Adams was born in what is now the Victoria Pub in Wolstanton, Staffordshire. After graduating from Cambridge University with an engineering degree, he served in Calcutta with the army, where he became involved in the Calcutta Symphony Orchestra. He joined the North Staffs Symphony Orchestra, where his father, mother and aunt were also members, on his return.

He married the late Joy Caddick-Adams in 1958 and they had four children: Peter, Margaret, Michael and Joan. Mrs Caddick-Adams joined her husband as an orchestra patron and sold tickets and programmes. As part of his involvement with the orchestra, Mr Caddick-Adams liaised with the conductors and soloists organising the sheet music for all the members. He also had a considerable say in the orchestral pieces played at the regular concerts. He announced his retirement from major performances in autumn 2006 but continued to attend rehearsals. His daughter Joan Langley said: "My father was a generous, kind-hearted and gentle man." He was an endearing character. He was full of energy and highly respected by those who knew him."

His son Mike said: "My father loved sailing and was very into cycling. He was well known for being out on his bike around Newcastle well into his retirement years. He was very proud of the time he had served in the orchestra – and even beating his own father’s record."

Mr Caddick-Adams was also a dedicated member of St George’s Church in Newcastle, where he was a choir member, church warden and treasurer for more than 20 years. He also held the church garden party regularly at his home, and was a keen supporter of the work of the Church Missionary Society and a leader of the Crusaders’ Union Bible Class.

 Mr Caddick-Adams, who was also in the Ceramic City Choir for 10 years and the Bedford Singers for around 20 years. A service ofthanksgiving took place at St George’s Church, Newcastle, on 29 July, 2008.


First Encounter
by Eric Woolliscroft  2 December 1995

It was at St John's Church (Hanley Old Church) that my family worshipped when I was young. It was also here where I first met John Cope, the founder of the North Staffs Symphony Orchestra.

I must have been seven or eight years old when my father, second bassoon in the NSSO, took me to a concert given there. My most lasting memory was of a white haired man glaring at me and making, as I found out at the interval, a "get out of the way" gesture with his left hand: my best description of it would be a left-handed side stroke in swimming, but it was sharp and aggressive.

The orchestra was seated in the middle of the congregation, so to some extent the audience was mixed in and around the musicians. Young Woolliscroft managed to get himself in the line of vision between the conductor and a woodwind player. Not very clever of me but I didn't know, did I? I remember being most put out by his attitude. That was my FIRST ENCOUNTER with John Cope and I thought at the time that I was badly done by. It was also the beginning of a lifelong friendship with the orchestra.

I cannot help feeling a tinge of sadness when I think of the closure of Hanley Old Church. I have warm and cherished memories of it up to and including the war years. A living and vibrant church, Reverend Arthur Tracer was the vicar and the choir master, and the organist was Carl Oliver, father of the late Jack Oliver, the music correspondent of the Evening Sentinel for so many years. Carl was a grand old man even then and a fine musician. An eccentric of the old school, he looked, to my young eyes, very Prussian and formidable with his bald head and walrus moustache.

Carl Oliver was a close friend of John Cope and the NSSO and he organised the selling of its programmes. I became a programme seller and recall in the early days that I could not remember his name very well: I once referred to him has Mr Palm Olive! We both had a good laugh about it later. I also remember the concerts given in the Victoria Hall at the time, 1934 onwards, with such soloists as Albert Sammons, Solomon, Alfred Cortot, Benno Moiseiwitsch, Louis Kentner and others. On one occasion, at the final rehearsal, the solo pianist was not impressed by the orchestra's playing and threatened not to appear on the night. However he was persuaded to do so, only to get lost himself, in a cadenza. John Cope had to sing his part to bring him back in. The orchestra played really well and my love of music started to grow.

Those were good days!

Former member of the NSSO and former percussionist of the Halle Orchestra

Eric Woolliscroft with second cousin Terry Woolliscroft

by Eric Woolliscroft  11 May 1996

John Cope was very stern at the rostrum. My father used to say "he can put the fear of God into you sometimes", but away from rehearsal he was the most modest, kindest of men. I visited his home in Charles Street, Hanley, and we often discussed music. To illustrate a point he would stride to the piano and with his big strong hands instinctively play the phrase concerned; such was his mastery of music. He was also a very good orchestral trainer and under his baton the standard of playing was very high. Like today, there are many good amateur musicians to call on and so there was little need for professional players.

The BBC arranged a broadcast of "The Messiah", half the performance played by the North Staffs Choral Society with members of the NSSO; the other half played elsewhere. I recall many of the players names of the time: The Leader Fred Weir of Weir's Glass and later followed by Ralph Jack; Syd Russell, principal flute; Dr. Reed (?) Oboe; Albert Williams and Ted McCombe, clarinets; Billy Walker and my father, bassoons; and many string players. However, I soon became attached to the timpani, played by Cyril Swettenham. He was good and had perfect pitch; a great gift when one has to change the notes of the timpani to the next key when the orchestra is still playing in the present key. We became good friends. I thought only of him as a timpanist until my mother took me to a church in the Chesterton area, near Newcastle [under-Lyme], where, to my surprise, he was organist. He gave a fine performance of Coleridge Taylor's "Petite Suite". He Was also a talented pianist. Later, he formed two orchestras; one a small classical orchestra, he conducting and playing mainly Haydn, Mozart, and light music; the other a very good and popular old time dance orchestra. He eventually left the NSSO and so I was asked to play the timpani.

I remember a story about Harold Pickering, who occasionally played trumpet with the orchestra. When rehearsing with a local free dance orchestra conducted by the then Dr. Malcolm Sergeant, Harry had a bad time with a particular passage. Eventually the exasperated conductor said "You cannot play the Trumpet" to which an equally exasperated Harry replied "No? - and you can't make a teapot". He was really a good and reliable player.

The Presbyterian Church had sky lights the length of its roof and I remember on one occasion when Mr. Cope started rehearsal with the overture to the "Flying Dutchman", immediately on the downbeat, there was a clap of thunder and a storm raged throughout the piece. Talk about offstage effects; it was very exciting.

Little did anyone know that everything was about to change. War was soon to be declared. When it happened, we moved from Monday evening to Saturday afternoon rehearsals to beat the blackout. On one occasion there was an air raid, just as I was entering the building, a Lysander spotter plane with fabric shot off half its port wing flew very low over Trinity Street, Hanley. I hope the pilot got home safely.

I was called up in 1944. After training I was sent to the Far East and so my playing with the orchestra came to an abrupt halt. My consolation was that I helped to win the war - well there was also John Wayne, Eryl Flynn, Humphrey Bogart and one or two others!

Former member of the NSSO and former percussionist of the Halle Orchestra

Eric Woolliscroft on timps