Charnwood Street had its own accordion teacher, Francis Edwin Wright, who was born in 1918. His father Fergus ran a boot making business at 143 Charnwood Street until he died in 1948, and Francis continued the business. He is listed as a boot repairer in a directory of 1954, but became a professional accordionist and teacher in the same year. He started to play the accordion in 1937, and broadcast during the Second World War with the 8th Army BBC radio station ‘B4’.
Arthur Beyless attended the Accordion School that he ran over the Charnwood Street shop, receiving a Pass with Merit in November 1958 in the Preparatory grade of the British College of Accordionists examinations. Arthur’s family then moved to Barrow on Soar, and his lessons ended; but in 1958 Francis Wright also set up Charnwood Music to encourage British composers to write music for the standard bass piano accordion. The organisation had an image of Old John, located within the Charnwood Forest area, as its logo. He later extended the range of music to include free bass, duets, ensemble and orchestra, and guitar and keyboard. In 1969 he also had a music shop at 28 High Street, Leicester.
Francis Wright was a prominent member of the British College of Accordionists, which awarded him an Honorary Fellowship in 1971. He died 1997 at the age of 79, and Charnwood Music was taken over by Anna and Raymond Bodell on condition that they would retain all the music for accordion in print. This was considered ‘quite important following the loss of many other accordion publishing companies in the United Kingdom’. The company is still in existence.
My thanks to Arthur Beyless for permission to reproduce the above illustration.