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any questions?

Byline: with Keith Draper

Hanson'link' that never was

Q IS IT correct that operetta singer John Hanson's sister had a music shop in Coventry?

ACONTRARY to widespread belief, there is no family relationship between the famous Hansons music shops and entertainer John Hanson, best-known for his role as the Arab sheikh Red Shadow in the operetta The Desert Song. And two readers have definitive proof.

Mrs H Slabik, of Shilton Lane, Walsgrave, writes: "There was no connection between John Hanson and Hansons music shop. John was an only child, and his real name was John Watts.

"My aunt and uncle were great friends of his parents, and when they went to Canada, John stayed with them for two years. After he found fame and fortune, he visited them at their new home in Kent."

C Stokes of Watercall Avenue, Styvechale, writes: "John Watts changed his name to Hanson, which was his mother's maiden name. This avoided confusion with his namesake who was producer of the BBC radio programme, Friday Night is Music Night. John Hanson was a regular performer on this programme for many years."

...SINGER and actor John Hanson was born in Ontario, Canada, but spent his early years in Coventry, where his parents ran a grocery and off-licence in Spencer Street, Hillfields. The shop was reduced to rubble in the November 1940 Blitz.

John worked in the production control office at Morris Engines and after that with the Hobun Aero Components. His first taste of showbiz was in Coventry, where he appeared in shows with both the Guildhall Operatic Society and Coventry Musical Play Society. His first stage appearance was at the Coventry Hippodrome.

In 1940, he went to the Leamington Musical Festival to ask adjudicators whether he was a baritone or a tenor. He was told he was a tenor and went on to win first prize as a tenor and second as a baritone. His professional career began in 1946, achieving universal fame in the role as the Red Shadow.

He died in December 1998 at the age of 78.

...COVENTRY record shop Jill Hanson was established in Market Way in 1958. Her family links with music went back 100 years to her grandfather, Alfred Hanson, who was apprenticed to Coventry piano maker William Chater.

Later on, Alfred and his brother Frederick changed the name to their own and became Warwickshire's foremost retailers of pianos and sheet music.

When the brothers retired, Alfred's son, Dick, carried on and established shops in Foleshill Road, Coventry, as well as Leamington, Kenilworth, Stratford, Rugby and Nuneaton.

He added a radio department and later became one of the first in the area to sell gramophone records.

Jill Hanson joined the company on leaving school and worked in the Coventry record department.

In 1951 the business was sold to a Bristol company, and in 1957 she launched out on her own with a shop in Market Way.

Barrage balloon that caused air tragedy I WANT to thank Maurice Rattigan for providing such an informative answer to my question concerning the crashed fighter plane at Shortley Road during 1940 (Any Questions, last week).

By coincidence, my late father, who related to me the slightly inaccurate version of the incident, took this photograph (right) of the barrage balloon at the corner of Humber Road and London Road that caused the accident.

At that time he lived with his brother at 144, London Road, and the photograph was taken from the back garden.

It was only later he realised it was an offence to photograph defences during wartime. With all the scare stories of spies and fifth columnists, he could have been in serious trouble.

Bill Sutton,

Winsford Avenue, Allesley Park.

STREETWISE MICHAELMAS ROAD, CITY CENTRE... was named after the ancient Michaelmas Lands, some of which were nearby on the other side of Warwick Road. These common arable fields were so-named because they could be enclosed for cultivation in strips every year from Candelmas Day on February 2 to Michaelmas Day on September 29. They were then thrown open for common use until the following Candelmas Day.

I never knew that! A NOVEL instrument called the applausometer was used at a fortnight- long talent show held in January, 1934, at the Gaumont Palace, Coventry.

The only railway carriage to be made in Kenilworth was delivered to the Talyllyn Railway Society line at Towyn, North Wales, in 1967.

In January, 1921, the Ministry of Transport issued a circular requesting local councils to standardise road-direction posts and danger signs.

Whitley Hospital in the London Road was an isolation hospital when it opened in April, 1934. It replaced a building for infectious illnesses in Stoney Stanton Road.

any answers? MAXINE Lawless, of Ettington Road, Mount Nod, writes: I have lived in Mount Nod for more than 20 years and every time I give my address I am asked where the name Mount Nod comes from. Can anyone help?

HOW many sets of traffic lights were there in Coventry before the last war?

MRS Herman, of Alfriston Road, Finham, writes: If I remember correctly, the first helicopter was called the "flying bedstead". Is that correct?

where am I? ANSWER: Sign on the Central Methodist Hall.


THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC: A fine selection of vinyls at Jill Hansons Record Shop (above) in Market Way in 1979; (left) an advertisement for Minipianos from Hansons of Hertford Street; (far left) singer John Hanson
COPYRIGHT 2001 Coventry Newpapers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 17, 2001
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