Catalogue description Park House Conventions

This record is held by Birmingham: Archives, Heritage and Photography Service

Details of MS 4000/5/3/7
Reference: MS 4000/5/3/7
Title: Park House Conventions
Held by: Birmingham: Archives, Heritage and Photography Service, not available at The National Archives
Language: English
Administrative / biographical background:

The following description of these meetings is taken from the introduction to a paper titled


"We're only in it for the money: a discussion of Folk Song and Popular Culture"


(1972) which was produced by Trevor Fisher, then a student at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Birmingham University, from discussions held at Park House in 1971 and 1972.


' In the autumn of 1970 a group of people in Birmingham came together for a WEA class on folk song and the popular arts under Charles Parker. The central question for the class was the relation between the folk arts and contemporary culture. This necessarily involved an examination of the remarkable upsurge in interest in folk song which took place in the sixties under the name of ' folk song revival ', and its connections with the radical movements of that decade, and the pop arts which it had so clearly influenced. As soon as the class began to work, however, it was discovered that there was no simple way that folk enthusiasts could talk any longer of a ' folk revival '. The class didn't have the resources to conduct a scientific survey, but from discussions with people in the Birmingham area, a study of the pop, national and specialist press, and TV and radio, it was discovered that the term ' folk song ' had virtually lost its meaning, that the revival had lost most of the pretensions to radicalism that it had once had, and that folk song had been virtually completely co-opted and absorbed by the apathy machines of Tin Pan Alley.


Matters came to a head with the discussion on electric folk at the 1971 Loughborough Folk Festival, and in particular the statement by Bob Pegg of the 'Mr Fox' group at that festival, to the effect that he wasn't really interested in folk song any longer, he was only in it for the money. A convention of interested people was convened at Park House in Herefordshire that summer, and started hard discussion on where the revival was going and how it related to popular culture and radical politics. Three subsequent conventions were held...'


The proceedings were, of course, tape recorded and the recordings transcribed;


bulletins were produced, and a song book proposed.


Papers relating to the group and tape transcripts can be found in


MS 4000/1/8/15.


One tape recording, MS 4000/5/3/7/4, has been included with this section because the labelling on the box suggested it was a part of the Park House Convention discussions. However, the tape is a recording of an interview by Charles Parker with Tony Crumlin about Catholic religious instruction at home and family life etc.

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