You may recall that Charlie Cass was an Associate of the Royal College of Music. Like it or not, the school performed an annual opera, invariably by Gilbert & Sullivan and usually The Mikado, sometimes The Pirates of Penzance; most of the early rehearsals were held at Norwood and then the performances at the theatre at the Old Swan Hotel (Harrogate Hydro), Beechwood Court Hotel, at St Mark's Parochial Hall along Leeds Rd or St Luke's Hall, King's Rd. Only The Mikado was performed after 1958.

Charlie's violin.      

In later years, Charlie organised the formation of the Norwood Operatic & Dramatic Society and this in turn was a member of the National Operatic & Dramatic Association. (

press here to go to THE MIKADO page

The theatre at the Old Swan Hotel is shown on the left of the hotel in this postcard - that also includes the Harrogate coat-of-arms.
(The postcard was sent from Harrogate to an address in Hexham on 3 July, 1907; at that time and since 1878 the hotel was known as the Harrogate Hydro. Its former name of the Old swan was re-introduced in 1952).

Mr Cass senior taught music; he was know as "Wilf", or "Jasper" out of his earshot. Having had a lesson in Mr Cass's room he would return to a classroom and say that so-and-so now had to go for his lesson; whereon that boys would disappear from the classroom bound for his session. Why did music take priority over Maths or whatever? We shall never know.

By Paul Cooper:
He played the violin very well, or so it seemed to me. His achievements (though some may say otherwise), was to nurture and train a young lad called Mik Kaminsky who later became part of a hugely successful pop band, The Electric Light Orchestra or E.L.O. as it was known to the hip where he played the electric violin with a gusto befitting the genre of that time!

I also remember in the front room where music exams were taken. I believe the exams were part of LSM(?) London School of Music. There was a highly polished Bechstein and a Steinway in the room along with music stands and the boys were told that whenever they went into that part of the building to tiptoe, especially when they heard music being played which seemed quite regularly. All kinds of musical instrument were heard but unappreciated by the boys who were more into the Beatles than Bach.
By Kevin Cheeseright:
Music was the soul of the school. Twice a year for a week, I helped manage the ASSBOARD (The Association Board of the Royal School of Music) examinations and in the summer holidays, Colin Kingsley (BBC's concert pianist) used to descend with 12 of the brightest musicians in the country for an intensive course. Cass was in his element. And he could play the violin with Colin.

His beloved French violin (a "French Stradivarius" as he would say) - I don't know how you spell the name but phonetically it was pronounced ville yome - and the Steinway piano that lived in the Lounge.

There was a lot of musical talent at the school and with my best friend being Mik Kaminski (Skinks), playing the guitar was everything. The school had a pop group called the Buccaneers; Ali Buchan, Sid (Mr Jones), also as Manager) on drums (but later replaced by someone who could drum!), and three others and did several 'gigs' in and around Harrogate. Sid was one of the boys, always addressed as 'Sid' providing, of course, that Charlie was not around, otherwise "Mr Jones".

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