The History of Gorton Philharmonic

Gorton Philharmonic in 1954

The orchestra was founded in 1854, only 27 years after the death of Beethoven, when Tchaikovsky was a boy of 14 and three years before the birth of Edward Elgar. This makes the orchestra one of the oldest in the North-West of England, being three years older than the Hallé Orchestra.

It was originally founded by a group of Gorton musicians who met in a Mr. Blackshaw‘s house in Brook Green Lane, Gorton, Manchester. The group initially augmented the organ accompaniment at the Aspinal Nonconformist Chapel but then enlarged to become the original Gorton Philharmonic Orchestra.

The orchestra has met regularly ever since at various places in Gorton and Reddish – at Aspinal Smithy, over the old Pomona Hotel at the corner of Reddish Lane, in the old Gorton Town Hall and, for many years, at Belle Vue Gardens, Manchester, first in the Ballroom and then in the King‘s Hall.

From 1887, the orchestra gave concerts at Belle Vue and continued to do so through the two World Wars. Originally concerts were given on the first Sunday in the month from 11.a.m. to 12.30.p.m. between May and October. In July 1945, the Belle Vue management requested that the concerts be in the evening and so the series of “open rehearsals” were started.

Concerts were held at Belle Vue, the Free Trade Hall, the Renold Theatre and at Manchester Town Hall. The last concert at Belle Vue was held in September 1977 and, until December 2001, Stockport Town Hall was the venue for the concerts. In 2002, concerts were presented in the Concert Hall at Parrs Wood High School, East Didsbury, Manchester and from 2003, the concert venue has been the Forum Theatre, Romiley, Stockport. In 2007, the Trustees of the newly restored Gorton Monastery invited the orchestra to present a Summer Concert, which was a great success. Since then the orchestra has presented an afternoon concert in the Monastery in July each year and in 2009, it was invited to inaugurate a Christmas Carol Concert in December at the Monastery. The concert sold out weeks before the event and hopefully, will be the first of many Christmas Concerts involving Gorton Philharmonic Orchestra.


Oswald Wallis


1873-1884 Samuel Benn
1884-1903 Edward Moyses
1904-1932 Joseph Ridgway
1935-1959 Oswald Wallis
John Crossdale
Frank Lennon
Andrew Hodkinson
Nick Simpson
Marco Bellasi
2012- Juan Ortuño