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Mr. Bernard C. Tomkins

As a young man 1931 Advert Bernard Tomkins
A signed postcard photo
1931 Advert
Bernard in 1938

Charles Bernard Tomkins was born at Ridgmont BDF, in 1884, son of William John Tomkins, Baptist Minister. His mother was Bridget was born at Laugharne CMN. The family came to Rushden when William came to the Old Meeting Baptist Church, and the family lived in Little Street.

His older brother, William followed his father into the ministry, but Bernard was a musician, and he eventually became a tenor with the City Temple Choir, London. He made his debut as a concert artiste at Crystal Palace in 1906.

Bernard Tomkins held his ‘First Annual Concert’ at the Public Hall in Rushden, on Saturday 4th May 1907.

Solo cornet player was Mr. Andrew Clark, a friend of Mr. W. F. J. Hewitt. They met in London before the Hewitt family moved to Rushden, where they founded a shoe factory, and the Amateur Dramatic Society. The Hewitt family also opened The Palace cinema in Rushden in 1910 .

Stewards at the concert were:

Mr J G Knight

Mr R F Knight

Mr L Perkins

Mr C L Bradfield

Mr A F Knight

Mr W T L Flood

Mr Allen

Mr G E Cunnington

In 1910 Bernard married Lily Agnes Hustwaite, daughter of George Hustwaite, former headmaster of Alfred Street School. Lily was born in Buckland Brewer DEV, in 1889, when her father was teaching there. Her father became headmaster at Rushden General School when it opened in 1872, and after 5 years he moved to Devon. Seven years later George returned to the area, taking up the headship of Higham Ferrers board school. By 1901 Lily Agnes and two of her brothers, Percy and Edgar were teaching at the school with their father.

Lily and Bernard lived in Station Road, Rushden. During WWI Bernard sang with the Lena Ashwell concert parties. He taught singing at Rushden, Bedford and Northampton, and he also conducted Rushden and Bedford Operatic Societies, and Rushden Park-road Baptist Choir. In 1921 he was a member of the Angelus Quartette.
Programme of Concert for the Benefit of Mr. Frank Cobley 1914
The advert on the back is by Rushden Public Hall - Mr Bernard Tomkins was advertising his 8th Annual Grand Evening Concert.
programme outer
programme inner

Rushden Echo, 27th July 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Vocalist’s Success – Miss E. Harlow to Visit France
Miss Eveline Harlow (soprano), of Rushden, has, through the instrumentality of her singing master (Mr. Bernard Tomkins) obtained an introduction to Miss Lena Ashwell, the celebrated actress, who, as is well known, is organising concerts for the troops in France. Yesterday Miss Harlow was granted an interview by Miss Ashwell, who heard her sing...................

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