Ware Choral Society
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WCS History 1902 -

At the turn of the century, Ware was a small merchant town with several timber, malting and flour businesses which were dependent on barges going up and down the River Lea to the London Docks. From there, steamships travelled to distant parts of the British Empire. In 1902, just as the Boer War was ending, a group of thirty local enthusiasts formed the Ware Choral Society.


Nelson Govier, a local church organist and choirmaster, was the conductor from 1902 until his death in 1934.

He was succeeded by Douglas Rogers, who directed the Society until the outbreak of war in 1939. In 1945 the choir was re-formed with forty members by relatives of the Govier family.


Robert Vivian became the conductor in 1945 and the society flourished, growing to well over a hundred members – exceptionally large for what was still a small town. He set about transforming the choir, producing performances of exceedingly high standards and performing all the major oratorios. The high quality of music ensured that this local, amateur choir was able secure top professional soloists and orchestras – a tradition continued by Julian Williamson when he took over on Robert Vivian’s retirement in 1974.

The society performs the standard repertoire locally, but in 1994, to celebrate Julian Williamson’s first twenty years of tenure, they performed Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, which was a re-visit to his first concert with the choir in 1974.


The historic and traditional trading companies of Ware have now gone, leaving only what was Allen & Hanbury, now GlaxoSmithKline, as the major business in the town. Ware is now primarily a dormitory town for London, and has been able to continually attract new members from the local area, and currently boasts over 100 singers.


In 1956 membership was 25/- (£1.25) per year, but members could pay 12/6d (62½p) down and 6d (2½p) per week until it was paid.

In 1956 hats and ties were the

order of the day for rehearsals

Rehearsals in 1952

Amazingly the choir has had only 4 conductors in its 100+ year history...

Nelson Govier (1902 - 1934)

Douglas Rogers

(1934 - 1940)

Robert Vivian

(1948 - 1974)

Julian Williamson

(1974 - )