Luton Girls Choir celebrate 60th anniversary of Australia tour

Proud former members of the Luton Girls Choir are cherishing fond memories, as they celebrate the 60th anniversary of their Australia and New Zealand tour.

The group, who had many fans Down Under, flew over during 1959, performing in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, as well as the major cities of its Kiwi neighbour.

The Luton Girls Choir visited Australia from September to November 1959.

The Luton Girls Choir visited Australia from September to November 1959.

Now, Jose Canning (nee Abbiss), 83, and her friends Barbara, Anne, Pat, Meryl and Christine, are remembering the adventure, which took them away from home for 12 weeks.

Jose said: “It took us one week to get there and we landed in Brisbane. There are pictures of us singing off the plane steps.

“Everywhere we went, we were met by marching bands and when we performed for school children in stadiums we ran for our lives afterwards - they would be chasing us!

“To think that 48 girls could go on a journey like that in those days is quite something.”

The choir was formed in Luton during 1936 by church choirmaster Arthur Davies and made many popular records, including Count Your Blessings.

The girls became famous in Britain and further afield, with Jose recalling busy weekends travelling up and down the country to perform, while during their 1959 tour they performed in 93 concerts, two radio programmes, three TV shows and gave one recording of The Alexandra Waltz.

Jose remembers the cultural differences when staying with local residents. She laughed: “In Brisbane there were sentry boxes in the gardens - they didn’t have sanitation in the houses - so you’d be walking across the garden at night not knowing if there were snakes or spiders there!

“We were sent off two by two to stay with complete strangers. That was the best part of it; I formed quite close friendships with the girls and still meet at least once a year.”