The early years (1928 – 1939)

The Leith Hill Musical Competition, or festival, started in 1905 as an event for village choirs. It had been founded by Evangeline Farrer and Margaret Vaughan Williams. By the early 1920s the local towns also wanted to take part and in 1922 a “Towns Day” was added. Leatherhead was represented by Leatherhead Orpheus Choir conducted by H.C. Kimberley and they continued to take part until 1936.

In 1928 the Leatherhead Choral Society that we know today was formed. The first conductor was Margery Cullen who already had experience of conducting at the LHMC with Mickleham. She conducted LCS until 1937. Records for this period have not survived so there is little more to say.

In 1938 LCS was conducted by B.S.Richmond and in 1939 by Kathleen Riddick, who conducted a variety of instrumental ensembles, something she continued to do during WWII and after. Also in 1939 Margery Cullen took on the role as Hon. Secretary of LHMC, a post she held until 1964.

Here World War II intervened. The Leith Hill committee and LCS were keen to continue making music as best they could in the more difficult circumstances. Groups from the choirs rehearsed as and when they could and a few performances by the combined choirs took place in Dorking. Works performed included The Messiah, Elijah and St. Matthew Passion. The rehearsals in Leatherhead were facilitated by Mabel Fuller who was to become LCS conductor when Leith Hill resumed in 1947.