History of the orchestra

The orchestra was founded as the Newcastle Chamber Orchestra in 1932 by J. Walter Lovatt and his son, R. Geoffrey Lovatt. In 1936 the name was changed to Newcastle String Orchestra.

The first conductor was Leslie Jones, who was succeeded in 1950 by the leader, Ralph Jack. In 1961 R. Geoffrey Lovatt took over, continuing in the post for almost thirty years. Subsequent conductors have included James Maddocks, a professional violinist, and Bill Humphreys, a well-known former Radio Stoke presenter.

In its first few decades the orchestra reached a considerable size, at times numbering around forty players. It gave concerts with many top-ranking soloists, including Isobel Baillie, Dennis Brain, Clifford Curzon, Gervase De Peyer, Kathleen Ferrier, Ralph Holmes, Louis Kentner, Thea King, Moura Lympany and Frederick Thurston.