Arthur Bown was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, on February 13th 1921. After picking out tunes on the family harmonium at a very early age, and with music lessons paid for by his two aunts, he quickly reached a high standard on the piano and organ – sometimes playing for church services when he was only 14. He attended the Brunts School in Mansfield from 1932-39, where he soon became a tower of strength to the school orchestra, playing cello and violin, and eventually becoming leader. He was also Secretary of the Music Society and one of the first to take music as a subsidiary subject in the Higher School Certificate Examination.
Arthur joined The Boots Company in the Quality Control department in 1940, but in 1942 he began military service with the Sherwood Foresters and was captured in Sedjanane, North Africa, in 1943. He spent time in POW camps in Germany, where he played the violin and in Italy, where he started an orchestra with instruments sent by the Red Cross. Local residents began singing whenever he played Neapolitan songs on his accordian!
After his release he joined the RAMC and trained as a physiotherapist. He met his wife, Muriel, a teacher, when they sang together in the church choir. They married in 1945 and had one daughter, Carolyn.
Arthur returned to Boots in January 1947 and took a BSc degree part-time, qualifying in 1949. He held a variety of posts in Quality Control as Section Head: Nottingham Chemical (1949), Sterile and Antibiotics (1956), Fine Chemicals (1959), Sterile Products (1963), Raw Materials (1973) and D6 Laboratory (1976). He retired in 1983 after 43 years’ service, but still continued to conduct the orchestra.
He was also Deputy Organist at Castle Gate Congregational Church, staging concert versions of Gilbert and Sullivan operas there, and he ran a small choir to take part in concerts with the orchestra. He gave up conducting in 1993 when he became seriously ill, but even when bed-ridden he continued writing musical arrangements. He died on April 22nd 1994.
Arthur played the third movement of Mozart’s piano concerto No. 23
and his daughter, Carolyn Pritchett, also sang at the concert.
Members in this photo, who are still playing with the orchestra, include:
John Carrat, violin
David Martin, bassoon