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.......... Flyntlocke
.......... King Bill Folk Club
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This is the story of the Beggars' Hill folk-rock album from 1976 which is now much sought-after by collectors of vinyl records. In 2010 it was professionally restored and officially released on CD for the first time by Talking Elephant Records.

Life After Beggars' Hill - David Frohnsdorff

Worth Wedding

Just a few months after the Beggars’ Hill album was completed, I met Janice Bason at a party at JM’s house. Janice was a Radiographer and former colleague of Jane Gibbens at Kingston Hospital (where John Rodd also worked). At this time Janice was working at the Middlesex Hospital in central London, about a mile from where I worked in Regent Street. After a few months going out together in the West End, to pubs, restaurants, cinemas and concert halls, and a canal holiday on a narrow boat with Jane and her fiancé Clive Cooper, Janice and I decided to get married.

By the time we were married in December 1977, Janice was working at Crawley Hospital, in West Sussex. Due to the cost of housing near London, we knew we would need to move further away to be able to afford anything reasonable, so we bought our first house at Crawley, and for the next eight years I spent around four hours every day commuting to and from London.

Our wedding was at a lovely old country church at Worth, about a mile from our new home. Peter Sharp was Best Man, JM Davis and Peter Butcher were ushers, and Jane and Clive were guests, just a few weeks after their own wedding. Our daughters were both born in Crawley Hospital, Nicola in 1979 and Katharine (known as Katie) in 1980. It soon became clear that we needed a bigger home, and the following year we moved to Horsham.

Dave & Janice's wedding in 1977, with Best Man, Peter Sharp

Dave & Janice's wedding in 1977, with Best Man, Peter Sharp

Streets of London

During these years my career had progressed rapidly. From 1974 I had been attending the Polytechnic of the South Bank in London one day a week, and in 1980 I was awarded the Graduate Diploma in Building Surveying. This led shortly to professional qualification as a Chartered Building Surveyor and membership of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. In parallel with studying I was working in the District Surveyors’ service, gaining experience in the offices for the City of London, Westminster and St Marylebone. During the course of those duties, I had the privilege of visiting many interesting buildings, including the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange, Madame Tussauds and Lords Cricket ground. I was also able to meet up with Pete Roberts, the drummer with Flyntlocke and Beggars’ Hill, as he too was then a Chartered Building Surveyor working in the City of London.

I continued studying at the Polytechnic of the South Bank one day a week, this time in Civil Engineering Studies, and this together with additional private study, allowed me to take Engineering Council exams leading to qualification as a Chartered Structural Engineer and membership of the Institution of Structural Engineers. The dual qualifications and practical experience on both high quality prestige developments in the City and Westminster and also more modest domestic alterations in Pimlico and St Marylebone, led to successive promotions and then appointments as Deputy District Surveyor at Holborn and Paddington.

Nicola, Katie & Dave in 1985, walking by the watercress beds

Nicola, Katie & Dave in 1985, walking by the watercress beds

Watercress Walks!

In 1985, however, an opportunity occurred quite unexpectedly, which was too good to miss. A job was advertised to join the NHBC to start the Approved Inspector system of Building Control, a new initiative by the Government as an alternative to the local authority service. More importantly, the vacancy was at Alresford, which I knew as a picturesque country town in Hampshire from visits to my Uncle John at Four Marks, near Alton. Even more importantly, I would be able to regain those four hours a day commuting and spend more time with my young daughters before they went to bed. So, not for the first time, nor for the last, I took an opportunity that presented itself, to improve my quality of life, even though it meant taking a drop to about half my previous salary.

We moved to Alresford in 1985, and found that we could walk almost everywhere we needed to go – my office, the school, shops, doctor, dentist, the park, country walks by the watercress beds, and also the Mid-Hants Steam Railway, the “Watercress Line”. The girls joined the Brownies, and Janice resumed as a Girl Guide Leader. We were a short drive from Winchester and the New Forest for days out. It was ideal, but unfortunately after 3 years, NHBC was reorganized and they decided to close the Alresford office. I couldn’t find another job which would allow us to stay at Alresford, so agreed to transfer to the NHBC office at Clevedon, near Bristol.

As always, we made the best of the situation and in 1988 we moved to a bungalow at Walton-in-Gordano, in the countryside and overlooking the Bristol Channel, with about a quarter of an acre of land. We stayed at Walton-in-Gordano for 12 years while the girls grew up, took exams, learnt to drive, worked part-time at local supermarkets, and then moved on to full-time jobs. Janice had returned to work, as a Radiographer at Southmead Hospital in Bristol. Then NHBC decided to restructure again, and close the Clevedon office. The choice I was offered this time was to transfer to Milton Keynes, or to work from home with computer and telephone links to the office and regular long journeys to meetings – I didn’t fancy either choice, but this time Fate stepped in again with a better alternative.

Janice, Kate, Dave & Nic in 2000

Janice, Kate, Dave & Nic in 2000

The Wight Choice

By an amazing coincidence, adverts appeared in both our professional magazines for jobs on the Isle of Wight for a Building Control Surveyor and a Radiographer. Janice and I had often discussed moving to the Island when we retire in 10-15 years time, as we have had many happy holidays here, so this seemed an ideal opportunity to make our move much sooner. I would need to accept a big drop in salary, as I was NHBC’s Surveying Manager for the South West, but moving home would allow us to reorganize our finances.

Needless to say, we were both offered jobs on the Island, and in 2000 we moved to the Isle of Wight and started our new life. Unfortunately, Nic and Kate, as the girls prefer to be called now they are grown up, decided not to move with us. As young adults, with their own jobs and cars, and friends and interests in the Bristol area, they decided to stay there and live together. We helped them to buy their first home at Portishead, but I’m pleased to say that a few years later they decided to move here too. They now have their own homes in Cowes, about a mile from us, and we all work in Newport, about 4 miles away.

Janice is a Radiographer at the local hospital, where Kate also works as a Staff Nurse in the Coronary Care Unit. Kate has trained and qualified since she moved here - she was awarded a Degree in Nursing at the University of Southampton, and is known professionally as Katharine. Nic works as a Student Advisor at the Isle of Wight College, where she and I both achieved the European Computer Driving Licence qualification and where I learnt sufficient basic website design to be able to design this website. As Senior Building Control Surveyor, I have been responsible for checking and inspecting building works in the Cowes area, and I’ve had the privilege of visiting the Royal Yacht Squadron on many occasions. Needless to say, over the last 30 years we’ve had our fair share of worries and problems with health, family and jobs, so it hasn’t all been plain sailing (pardon the pun).

David Frohnsdorff at the reunion in 2003 (far right)

David Frohnsdorff at the reunion in 2003 (far right)

Musical Notes

“But what about music?” you may ask. Well, even before Beggars’ Hill in 1976, music has always been my main hobby, but now for listening, not playing. Back in the 1970s, I had a large collection of vinyl LPs and cassettes, and now I have replaced many of these with the CD versions. For those not available on CD, I use my computer linked to my hi-fi to record, clean up and transfer my favourites to CD, and I have created a database of all my music in whatever format.

And yes, just once every few years I do pick up a guitar to remind myself how I used to be able to play. Maybe some day, when I have a bit more spare time …………… Oh, and years ago when the girls were young, I bought an electronic keyboard, which I’ve always meant to learn to play – it makes a much fuller sound than the guitar, I’ve always thought. And then there’s electric guitar, and drums – I’ve always wanted to have a go on a drum kit …………. Who knows, perhaps if you read this again in a couple of years I’ll have something to report. It’s only a matter of having the spare time to practise, you know.

After all, in 1999 I first suggested a Beggars’ Hill reunion, and that happened in 2003. Again in 1999, I first thought of creating a website, then the idea went to sleep for a few years, but woke up again in 2006, and now it’s happened in 2008. I remember the quotation by Thomas Edison about genius being 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration – it’s all about positive thinking and determination, and allowing time for things to happen. You wait and see. This is not ..............


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David Frohnsdorff (left, without beard) in 1975, with Marc Isherwood
David Frohnsdorff (left, without beard) in 1975, with Marc Isherwood

David Frohnsdorff (left, with beard) in 1975, with Neil Stanford
David Frohnsdorff (left, with beard) in 1975, with Neil Stanford