John Cunninghame and Stream of Consciousness....and a little Bushmills 1608

My lineage on my mother's side being from Wales and having come to the USA through life on the London stage at the turn of the century...about the time Little Bill was just being able to tune his banjo and wipe himself by himself both..... I've always been sort of an Anglophile ("genetic memory"?).

Growing up torn between the interests of aviation and the banjo, I've been fascinated later in life by the various connections between the two down through history, especially with the RFC/RAF and Joe Morley, John Cunninghame, and Tom Harribal.....not to mention Charlie Rogers, who though not in the RFC, certainly was exposed to it.

I just found this, and maybe they are still willing to talk more about John/Jack with someone on this forum closer physically to them than I:

Were I in the UK, I would rush to the nursing home to interview her/them.

John seems to be somewhat elusive (to me)....maybe Pat Doyle and/or Chris Ware could help me on my quest?

I would be very interested to learn more about John, but this article I thought was fascinating....and some here may really be interested as well.

Model airplanes have been an interest of mine since childhood, as they were to many of the RFC/RAF personnel that I've read about.   I've experienced one thing that has impacted model flying since I grew up.....urban development and lack of wide open spaces to fly in.

When I was on some model airplane forums a few years ago, one very active fellow was from East Anglia.

A record dealer I have dealt with in the UK told me once that the best finds, especially banjo records AND banjos, came from East Anglia in the 70's and to an extent into the 80's.

He told me East Anglia was the rural farming area of England in the the Appalachian region or the Dust Bowl in the depression era of the USA....where all the "hillbillies" lived.

The model airplane thing was about East Anglia being one of the last "wide open spaces" to fly models in....but maybe not now as the USA and likely abroad as well.....seems to have led to "paving the Earth".

Anyway, my thoughts had these things rolling through them as I read the link above.

Guess I need to get out my map and figure where Bath, "The Bath Chair" in East Anglia?

It's been said on this forum somewhere that most "newbies" wouldn't like the old records of classic banjo with the "poor" recording quality and surface noise......

I can't see any other way of so directly accessing the music and the people that made it without a time machine....which to me, the records mystically serve the same purpose as. (If you were really serious, you would realize in your journey after much expenditure and trial and error that the playback equipment available since the 50's could suck much more music and less noise out of those discs and cylinders than most realize since recording equipment of any given time has always been better than the playback equipment of the same time...and that digitizing the old recordings frequently compromises the "presence" that the originals have to offer).

These were all thoughts going through my head as I read Chris Sand's Tarrant Bailey book and look at the picture of John Cunninghame and read how he played with Joe Morley regularly at a time that was very influential to Tarrant Jr.

Where are the remnants of John Cunninghame's existance and music and legacy apart from the others' output that was influenced by him?



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Thank you, Richard, I appreciate that!!!


Chris, I think I have most of your answers to John Percy Cuninghame, but certainly not all.:

John Percy Cuninghame

Born on the 12th December 1891 to Alexander Kennedy Cuninghame and Mary Edith May Cuninghame nee Lawrence.  John Percy Cuninghame married Edith M Roberts in Sept 1919 in the registration district of Bath. He enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary force on the 23rd December 1915, in the 35th Central Alberta Horse, although he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps.  He was elected to the Royal Aero Club in July 1917 (along with Lothair Gebhardt Blucher, a descendant of the Waterloo Bluchar)..Returned to England from Quebec (alone) by the Empress of Scotland in 1922. Brewer (----)  indicated that he moved to Birmingham and stopped playing the banjo because of rheumatism. Certainly, in the 1940s he appears to have been the secretary to the Birmingham Citizen’s Society,  (for the benefit of the poor of Birmingham).

He died 14th February 1976, leaving an estate of £3177.

JPC was a great friend of the Tarrant Baileys, and had given his address at 32 Park St Bristol as his contact address whilst with the RFC.  He received banjo tuition from Clifford Essex, then R Tarrant Bailey Senior, and finally from Joe Morley.

He was a composer of note, including the Somerset March and others.  A curious footnote concerns the origin of the popular song “Pack up your troubles” (Vale; 2014), which his daughter in law attributed to him.

Brewer W.M.,             BMG

Vale, J.., (2014)           East Anglian Daily Times, 4th April 2014


1901    Westerhall Rd, Upwey, Dorset

1915    General Delivery, Edmonton, Alberta            Engineer

1917    Royal Military School Ruislip                        Aviator

1922    6 Morton Rd, Exmouth                                   Occupation ‘nil’

1929    18 Wallasey Crescent, Ickenham, Uxbridge

1947    161 Corporation St, Birmingham

1976    2 Meadow Park, Bathford, Bath


You will see that the date of Brewer's piece on him from the BMG is undated, and I think you might have the original.  I would be obliged.

Thank you


PS this is a work in progress, so excuse both the grammar, punctuation etc.  The facts are more or less accurate.

Anthony-I don't what to say....that is incredible information, and it looks like quite a bit of time on your part.

Thank you very much!

I did see online the article about "Pack Up Your Troubles" as interviewed with his daughter inlaw, I think....I may have mentioned that earlier in the thread.

On the BMG Brewer's piece you reference.....what issue is it in????  I may have it, but I doubt it as my BMG collection is young and I'm struggling with finding earlier issues, which of course I'm most interested in finding.

How did you find all this information???

I deeply appreciate your post......thank you!



Dear Anthony,

I think you may be inadvertently conflating the Chrisses here; I posted that BMG article back in November and did indeed sorely neglect to cite the date, which I will now do, with my apologies: January 1955. It's part of the alphabetical listing of UK banjoist biographies that started earlier in 1954 as part of Brewer's "Banjo in Britain" articles. (Though I can't think of a more cordial and friendly Chris with whom to be confused than Chris Cioffi, so that's fine with me.)

And while I'm at it, my belated congratulations and salutations to Ian, who (whom?) I'm glad to hear is doing well and feeling better. Welcome back, Ian! There's no better news than a clean bill of health.

And thanks to you, Anthony, for all the tireless Morley research and the fantastic library of files you've been assembling on the site; your efforts are overwhelming and, to say the least, greatly appreciated.

Very best, Chris W.

Well, Chris, nice to be confused with you as well!

Thanks for the info....funny....I have those issues (not for long) and didn't even know what was in there yet....takes a while to read through decades of magazines.....

Yes, as well....WONDERFUL NEWS, IAN!!!!

And, thank you Anthony.....the Morley work is much appreciated!

Chris C

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