NOSTALGIA: Piano lessons in the 1940s

Malcolm Wheatman of Kendal recalls piano lessons and other hobbies during the 1940s


During the war my piano teacher was Mrs Lilian Pentith, whose husband was away in the RAF.

I took some exams at Wilkinson’s Organ Works at Aynam Road at Kendal.

Later, exams were upstairs at Dobie’s china shop, The Tower Buildings, Stramongate.

Mr Dobie had an old walnut-cased grand piano, a daunting instrument after my own and my music teacher’s small boudoir upright.

Towards the end and just after the war she held ‘Musical Afternoons’ in her front room on Natland Road and later for the general public at the YWCA hall, Stricklandgate, when about 30 of her pupils would each play light classical pieces.

She used to borrow my newly bought piano, rebuilt by Wilkinson’s, and had it tuned before the concert and, after having it delivered back to my home, would have it tuned again. A journey by road often upset the pitch of some instruments.

She organised the concerts in style and issued printed invitations to families of her pupils. I used to print these invitations myself (about 30) in elegant script on a small table-top printing machine, which was another of my hobbies.

For the public concerts Atkinson and Pollitt printed her 200 programmes.

Halfway through the concerts there would be a talk by an authority on an aspect of cultural education, in particular Kendal’s association with the learning and playing of music.

Another of my hobbies was casting and painting lead soldiers. During the war these toys were unobtainable and I had just started working with a man with five sons, who said they were just what he was looking for as Christmas approached.

They were attractive in their red and blue uniforms and black bearskin hats.


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