This song sheet was donated to the museum back in 2000 and I have been longing to hear it performed ever since. Once, when I took it out to a reminiscence group a gentleman suddenly sat up and started singing it from memory but there was no means of recording it on that occasion.
When members of Bramley Elderly Action and the Bramley History Society started to plan their display on Leeds Children’s Day for the Abbey House community gallery in the summer of 2013 they took great interest in the song. None of them actually remembered singing it when they attended the Children’s Day events as most had been at school after the war. However, members of the BEA Singing Group were up for the challenge and vowed to learn the song which they performed with gusto at Abbey House Museum on 25th March 2014.
The song was written and composed by J. Harley Stones of Saville Green Council School, Leeds and was printed for the Leeds Elementary Schools’ Athletic Association by The Yorkshire Evening Post. The sheet music does not have a printed date, so we are not exactly sure exactly when it was written. The very first Children’s Day event was staged in 1922, but it started properly in 1930.
As a result of the publicity for the display, many people have contacted the museum to send copies of photographs and their memories. One gentleman contacted the Yorkshire Post to say that his mother remembered singing ‘Floreat Loidis’ between about 1930 and 1932, which has helped to narrow down the dates. He attended this performance and was able to take a recording home to his mother who is now housebound.
Also in the audience was a lady (maiden name Vera Stoney) who was crowned Queen of Leeds Children’s Day in 1939 and can claim to have held the title for seven years as the next event was postponed until 1946. She did not remember singing the song, so we know that it had fallen out of favour by then.
Watch the BEA singing group perform Floreat, Loidis! – The Leeds Children’s Day Marching Song (opens a link to our YouTube channel).
The BEA singing group did find the words rather old fashioned, but had great fun learning and performing them:
Floreat, Loidis! Is our cry, as we gaily march along.
Our city’s honour we proclaim with voices clear and strong.
Stalwart lads and lasses fair, we swing upon our way.
Tribute to our dear city’s love on this Children’s Day.
The display about Leeds Children’s Day continues at Abbey House Museum until the end of June 2014.
By Kitty Ross, Curator of Social History