Our History

Although there is evidence of the existence of a ‘Nailsea and District Choral Society’ in the 1890s, Nailsea Choral Society, as it is now known, was founded in 1925 as the Wraxall Choral Society, but, as the membership became more far flung, changed its name in 1936 to the North Somerset Choral Society. A further change of name to the present Nailsea Choral Society took place in 1976 soon after North Somerset disappeared into the County of Avon, With the re-appearance of North Somerset as a named region in 1993, however, it was agreed nevertheless, not to change the name back again.

The first concert in December 1927 featured Somervell’s Forsaken Merman, and early concert programmes in the 1920s and 30s were often titled as ‘Glees, Part songs and Madrigals’, and consisted of works now rarely performed such as Coleridge-Taylor’s A Tale of Old Japan, Stanford’s Revenge and Parry’s Pied Piper of Hamelin. These continued to feature from time to time up to the early 1950s. The Society’s first performance of Mendelssöhn’s Elijah was given in 1951, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in 1954, and Handel’s Messiah in 1955, though what now may be considered as curiosities such as Phillips’s Rebel Maid continued to feature in the list of programmes.

There were no performances given in the Second World War. In fact, although practices and singing re-started in 1946, the first performance did not take place until March 1949, and was titled a ‘Social Concert’.

The only other significant break in NCS’s concert record is more recent, running from December 2019 to November 2021, and was occasioned by the Covid pandemic.

Nailsea Village Institute, Wraxall Playhouse and the Backwell W.I. Hut were the early preferred locations, branching out to the new secondary schools when they were built and to local churches. One concert in 1956 was given in the Grand Hotel, Bristol (Sullivan/German’s The Emerald Isle). Local churches and halls in Wraxall, and Backwell were popular venues. Nowadays our usual venues are the local Nailsea churches: Holy Trinity, Christ Church and the Methodist, but we have twice in the last ten years presented concerts in Clifton Cathedral and once in the (old) Colston Hall.

2025 is the Society’s centenary year. Fund raising and plans are already underway for a gala concert on Saturday 17th May in Clifton Cathedral, Bristol, performing Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. It will be a wonderful way to celebrate the hundred years since foundation and all the people who have served and contributed to the Society in its long history.