A Conversation for Kathleen Ferrier, Contralto

Thomas Duerden

Post 1


Just for information, Thomas Duerden was actually the choirmaster at Blackburn Cathedral and also a music teacher at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Blackburn. He also happened to be the husband of Margaret Duerden (nee Ferrier), one of Kathleen's cousins!

Thomas Duerden

Post 2


Hello there Pegs67 and welcome to h2g2 smiley - towel Firstly may I thank you for reading my entry on Kathleen Ferrier and for the information you provide. My delay in responding has been while I double-checked my facts. You make two points regarding Thomas Duerden:

1. He was choirmaster at Blackburn Cathedral and a music teacher at Kathleen's Grammar school.

2. He was married to one of Kathleen's cousins.

I'd like to comment on these two points separately.

My understanding (and please do correct me if I'm wrong in anything that follows) is that Thomas L Duerden wasn't appointed as organist and choirmaster at Blackburn Cathedral until 1939, when he succeeded Hermann Brearley, the conductor of the Hallé choir and tutor at the Royal Manchester College of Music. Thomas Duerden continued to serve the cathedral in this post right up until 1964. The old parish church, now much extended and known as Blackburn Cathedral was only given cathedral status in 1926 on creation of the new Diocese of Blackburn. At the time of Kathleen's singing lessons with Thomas Duerden in 1934, I believe he was still organist and choirmaster at the parish church of St John, Blackburn.

The fact that he was also responsible for the teaching of music at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School I had completely overlooked.

Even more significantly, I was not aware of the family connection between Kathleen and Thomas Duerden. My reconstruction of Kathleen's family tree only included the blood relatives, not those by marriage. I am extremely grateful to you for pointing this out to me.

For the benefit of other readers of this thread, the family connection is that Kathleen's father William (b. 1868) was one of 5 children, the others being John Thomas (b. 1856), Mary (b. 1861), Margaret (b. 1864) and George (b. 1874). It was George and his wife Maud's daughter Maud Margaret (b. 1911) who married Thomas L Duerden in 1933. Therefore Kathleen and Maud Margaret were cousins.

If, as I suspect, you have a connection with the Ferrier or Duerden families, or with the Cathedral, I would be most interested to know, either here or by email to h5ringeryahoocouk.

Again, thank you for your interest.

Thomas Duerden

Post 3


I'll await your reply before asking one of the h2g2 Curators to update the entry.

Thomas Duerden

Post 4

Galaxy Babe - eclectic editor

Curator subscribingsmiley - towel

Thomas Duerden

Post 5


Hello again, I suspected that Thomas Duerden may not have been choirmaster at Blackburn Cathedral until possibly a bit later on and I know he had connections with St John(s)Church in Blackburn, so I'm in no doubt that your facts (and research) are correct!

You're very correct in saying that Maud Margaret was the daughter of George Ferrier and therefore Kathleen's cousin along with her (Margeret's) siblings Beatrice ('Trixie') and Dorothy, however, just for the record, Maud Margaret Duerden (nee Ferrier) went by her middle name Margaret (probably because her mum was also Maud!).

I am actually one of Margaret and Thomas Duerden's grandchildren, so I am part of both the Ferrier and Duerden families and I am very appreciative and proud of people like yourself informing others about her work and life and keeping her memory alive.

I also apologise for not getting back sooner.

Keep up the good work!

Thomas Duerden

Post 6


Thank you for coming back here smiley - smiley It's so nice on the very rare occasions we are able to make a bridge between the past and the present. Are you still in the Blackburn area or have you moved away?

It is one of my personal roles on this site to try and keep great people of yesteryear from slipping out of view and being forgotten. Any other information you could provide me would be of great personal interest but anything you wanted kept private would of course be completely respected.

Thank you for your time


PS Did you know that there is a photograph of Thomas Duerden at the organ of Blackburn Cathedral here http://www.blackburncathedral.com/UserFiles/File/The%20Organs%20of%20Blackburn%20Cathedral.pdf (scroll down to page 7)

Thomas Duerden

Post 7


I no longer live in Blackburn but my parents do and my brother lives nearby. If I can think of anything else to add I will let you know.

Obviously, Kathleen died before I was born but I have been passed on a few letters and photos via my great Auntie Trixie (Beatrice) which I have copied and passed onto Blackburn Museum which incidently has a large KF archive. Grandpa Duerden also died when I was about 2 so I don't rememember him but I have seen photographs.

I have been passed on a book from my Auntie (mum's sister) where he has made some corrections to the text!! One comment was that Kathleen and her family moved back to Blackburn from Higher Walton after she was born (as that was where the family were originally from) because the way the book read, the family originated from near Preston!! A bit pedantic, but I think that TL was proud of the Blackburn roots!

Thomas Duerden

Post 8


Little snippets are always welcome. They help to build the bigger picture smiley - smiley

Thomas Duerden

Post 9


My edition of Letters & Diaries of Kathleen Ferrier will be republished at the end of the year to mark the centenary of her birth in 2012. The book, which will appear in paperback, already has over 50 new letters and is in the process of revision and with new material. I would be grateful to hear from anyone who may have letters written by Kathleen, and any other material or ephemera before the beginning of April 2011, when the first draft will be submitted. My email address is [email protected], and I would be delighted to hear from you.

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Thomas Duerden

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