Bernard Herrmann and the N.D.O.
For more info - please visit the NDO website

Johnnie Roadhouse (pictured right) now in his mid eighties has run the music shop on Oxford Road for more than fifty years, infact he has been involved in the music industry for over 65 years.

A saxophonist, he performed to audiences during the second world war and in Royal Command Performances.

He was also a founder member of the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra and played a major role in Manchesters Television and Radio history.

The Northern Dance Orchestra [N.D.O.] was formed in 1956 and quickly established itself as arguably the finest ensemble of its kind in the land.

Under MD, Alyn Ainsworth they played in many BBC radio and TV programmes doing both inside and outside broadcasts. "Make Way For Music" introduced by Roger Moffat made the N.D.O. into a household name introducing vocalists Les Howard and Sheila Buxton they gained cult status.
Johnny Roadhouse
Bernard Herrmann
ln the early sixties Bernard Herrmann (pictured above) took over from Alyn Ainsworth. The BBC recognised the growth of "Rock and Pop" and the N.D.O. found a new musical direction with shows like "Pop North" and "Here we go with the N.D.O." the show in which the Beatles made their radio debut in 1962.
Ken Frith

The N.D.O. were based at the old Hulme Hippodrome as residant band where such groups as The Applejacks and The Springfields performed on the same bill.

Compere was Gaye Byrne, a seasoned performer, who is still very much active in radio.

ln 1975 the Northern Dance Orchestra were re-named The BBC Northern Radio Orchestra establishing the end to a great musical era in Manchester.
Frank Dixon
Alyn Ainsworth

Freddie Hefferan (left) and Roger Fleetwood (above)

Known members    
Bob Duffy bass  
Bob Turner drums  
Bob Turner drums  
Peter Husband flute  
Les Beavers guitar  
Ray Barlow guitar  
Alyn Ainsworth MD/Arranger  
Ken Frith piano  
Brian Fitzgerald piano (later Leader)  
Freddie Hefferan sax  
Gary Cox sax  
Roger Fleetwood sax  
Johnny Roadhouse sax  
Steve Morris sax  
Les Lovelady sax  
Roy Bassett trombone  
Frank Dixon trombone  
Harry Burgess trombone  
Bram Fisher trombone  
Frank Tebb trombone  
Bernard Darkin trombone  
Syd Lawrence trumpet  
Ernie Watson trumpet  
Fred Kelly trumpet  
Dave Browning trumpet (played Coronation St theme)
Stan Hibbert trumpet  
Harry Archer (Harry Archibald) bass  
Kevin Kent vocals  


An early member and maybe founder member on sax along side Johnny Roadhouse was Steve Morris and of course at some point, Sid Lawrence.

Vocalist on Pop North days was the great Kevin Kent, who also supplied some of backing singers via his agency - one of whom was Elkie Brookes. Kevin also managed Les Dawson in his early days.

Harry Lane

A bassist not mentioned on your list of former personnel is Harry Archer (Harry Archibald). He is on a number of vidio clips. I served with him in the Lincolnshire Regiment Band in 1945/46.

RCH Berry

As an avid listner to NDO when a youngster obviously there are records of performers such as Alyn Ainsworth and Roger Moffat who are sadly nolonger with us but what happened to the beautiful and talented singer SHEILA BUXTON. Extensive searches of the internet reveal no information. It's as if the secret sevice  of the BBC killed her off without trace. Perhaps she used a stage name and preferred anominity to lead a normal domestic career. Maybe I am making this enquiry 20 years too late.

John Chalmers

Sadly Sheila Buxton contracted Altzeimers Disease and died as a result. After the demise of the NDO Sheila went to live in Malta with her new husband who I understand was an oil-rig worker.

Peter Pilbeam

My father, Roy Bassett, made up the quartet of trombone players with the NDO from about 1953 until 1965, when he left to become Orchestral Manager of the BBC Radio Orchestra in London.   Along with Frank Dixon and Frank Tebb, he lived in Blackpool and travelled over to Manchester most days - either car-sharing with the other two or riding his precious Vincent motorbike, come rain or shine.   Dad had previously played in Vic Lewis's band in the late 40s and early 50s, as well as with the band at The Tower Ballroom in Blackpool.   I have such fond memories of those days when I was very small and so proud of my dad - especially when the NDO had their TV series of Make Way for Music.  (I was allowed to stay up late on those nights to watch!)

Christine Lock

Sheila Buxton. 20 years ago Sheila was running a cafe in Malta with her partner. Sadly when I returned to Malta 4 years ago I could not find the cafe again (see below) 

Jeni Snoddy

Around 1960 I played trumpet in a rehearsal band - largely for learners - in Nuneaton with a young lad named Robert (Bob) Harrison, also a trumpet player. We lost touch when he went full-time professional, initially with a circus band in Great Yarmouth. I heard later that he had married a dancer. Many years later a very talented trumpet player of the same name was a regular player with the NDO and I have often wondered whether it was the same person. Sadly he died some years ago at, I believe, a fairly young age. (I am now 71 and he was about 4 or 5 years younger than I) Does anyone know any more about him?

Many thanks.

Roger Evans

I too have fond memories of the NDO, having heard them at the Playhouse According to the website, an amazing new double CD has been produced from NDO band numbers from tapes in private hands. There are tracks by many of the names above.

Try the website for more details.   


There was also one violinist but I can't remember his name.  Once during a live radio broadcast he missed his solo que.  Alan, noticing he was missing from the stage, beconed the flute player to come up to the mic and he reluctantly had to cover the part.

I was in the NDO fan club and used to go to Hume every Saturday for 'Your Saturday date'.  They did the first live broadcast of FM on the 'Third Prgramm' and liisteners were able to hear it first by AM then by FM.

We used to meet some of them informaly, walking along in the nearby park, discusing the hotness of the TV lights in such a small studio when later on TV.

Alan Stott

Not absolutely sure if this is all correct (it was a long time ago!) but I remember going regularly to see Gaye Byrne compere "The Beat Show" in the sixties (at the hippodrome I believe) and the NDO were the "resident band" so to speak.

I later met Les Beavers, a brilliant guitarist, who I'm sure played with them at some time (until after a famous episode, he got sacked). You weren't supposed to gig for anyone else in those days when you worked for the Beeb, let alone the opposition. Les's sessions in the jazz clubs in Manchester were largely overlooked, but it was when the camera panned across the ATV Showband (Jack Sharples?) during the credits, and there was Les, right in the middle that the wotsit hit the fan.

I met Les through his teenage son, who was a fan of our band (The Brystals, a Bury R&B group) and thought I was a good guitarist - I wanted lessons, so he introduced me to Les having bulled me up as "Bury's best guitarist", or some such crap - I soon realised that I wasn't even our street's best guitarist. Les taught me a lot (and I returned the compliment with a few Beatles arrangements that the copy writers hadn't got right . . . . at least, not how The Beatles played them).

No doubt someone will correct any wonky memories - Kevin Kent is listed as the vocalist with the NDO - do I remember him with Syd Lawrence later on? I'm sure I was backstage after a Morecambe concert (no, don't laugh) and watched horrified as Kevin keeled over - the result of having all his jabs for a foreign holiday at one go (they must have been paid better than we were) complicated by a very large brandy. Sorry to ramble . . . . .

Dave Weeds (Weedsy)

I am Sheila Buxton's neice and I saw that people say she had a cafe in Malta.  That is nonsence  - she had a gorgeous home in Malta!! My auntie was a much loved caracter that is sadly missed by my mum, who is her sister.  We was a very close family and Ii am the daughter she never had, always missed but never forgotten xxxx

Joanne Hibbert

As a young bass guitarist I played with a group called Denny and The Witchdoctors from Huddersfield.  We played a spot on Here we go with the NDO.  I am now 77 years old, it must have been my 15 minutes of fame.

Sean Henderson

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Comments (27)

Topic: NDO
Dr Stuart H Russell says...
Back in the late 1960s I was the pianist in a small combo booked to play at the Bentley Owners Association do at a hotel in Matlock Bath (the Temple?) and Ken Frith was there. I recall he had a Bentley and a pub in Manchester (and a large ... Read More
8th May 2014 7:52pm
eric grotbag says...

19th May 2014 8:50pm
robert washington says...
I am Sheila Buxtons yonger cousin I fondley remember sundays in 1950s I think union street greenheys, Sunday lunch down to the pub at the end of the street I was too young I stayed in and Tinkered on the piano in the front room,Shiela would imerge ... Read More
22nd June 2014 6:57am
Rodney Greenberg says...
I am the son of musician, teacher and conductor Cyril Greenberg, who founded and conducted the Manchester Children's Orchestra in 1946 and soon gave well-publicised concerts including one at Lewis's store near Piccadilly of which I have ... Read More
7th August 2014 11:53pm
Val Francis says...
I am Val Francis, I was the resident singer for a year with Bernard Herman & the NDO on a radio show called Pop North, at the Playhouse Theatre, the show was hosted by Ray Moore, Producer was John Wilcox, also on the show every week were The Mal ... Read More
17th November 2014 3:40am
Eddie kilfoyle says...
Hi Val - Bernard was / is my uncle, brother to Mary, Albert, Edwin formerly of Swinton. My father Edward P kilfoyle - ( Halle double bassist) great memories, thank you
8th February 2016 10:13am
Val Francis says...
Hi Eddie, thanks for your message, it was great working with such a brilliant orchestra & your uncle Bernard was a lovely man. I was resident on every show for a year it was fantastic, Les Howard (singer) who did a lot of radio work recommended ... Read More
26th March 2016 9:40am
Anthony Herrmann (Birmingham) says...
Hello Val, I am Bernard's oldest son and would like to thank you for your kind comments about my father.Sadly Dad passed away in October 2015 at the age of 85. He could not have been prouder of the talented musicians he worked with and it is ... Read More
25th October 2017 2:57am
david brown (GREAT GRIMSBY) says...
Thank you for the information about your famous father and to hear from you. He was a great musician.
18th November 2017 8:17am
Claire Speake says...
Hi Eddie your Uncle Bernard taught me flute privately. He was a truly great teacher and because of him I have been teaching flute privately for over 30 years. Unfortunately I lost touch with him when in my late teens. He was amazing and taught me ... Read More
28th January 2017 11:03am
Anthony Herrmann (Birmingham) says...
Hello Claire, My father would have been delighted to hear about your teaching career.It's such a pity you lost touch.I'll pass on your comments to the family, they too will be so pleased to hear that you are passing on his legacy.Many ... Read More
25th October 2017 3:03am
Anthony Herrmann (Birmingham) says...
Hi John,
Fantastic to hear from you and thanks for posting your memory.How do I contact you?
27th January 2018 10:57pm
Archivist NDO says...
As archivist of the NDO you might like to look at the NDO website
and the CDs now available
7th March 2016 8:16am
Don Higson says...
I used to attend the recordings of the Beat Show almost weekly in the early'60s I clearly remember Ken Kirkham being resident singer but just cannot recall the female resident.Certainly was'nt Sheila Buxton, and I'm pretty sure it was ... Read More
15th December 2014 4:46am
Pat says...
I often wondered what happened to Ken Kirkham, he was a good artist. Loved the beat show every Tueday, many moons ago. Just found the Manchester Beat site, great!
21st October 2015 8:37am
David M Lowe says...
Hi, I'm researching THE TRAD LADS whom I believe were a 'part' of the NDO in the 1960's (saw them listed on programmes to do with early Beatles appearences). Can anyone tell me who the members were, what instruments etc. The research ... Read More
16th February 2015 5:50am
John Whelan says...
The 'Trad Lads' consisted of the rhythm section and Syd Lawrence on Trumpet, Roger Fleetwood Clarinet and Frank Dixon Trombone.
26th March 2015 10:56pm
Gordon Collinge says...
Some recollections of the NDO. I grew up in Winton,Eccles and frequented the original Brown Cow pub (demolished to make way for the motorway. In the early 60s they had a 4 piece combo on stage to back the artistes. This included a guitarist called ... Read More
1st September 2015 10:01am
Brian Smith says...
I was browsing the memories of the NDO Show and saw the name of Gordon Collinge in 2015. The home details & age suggest he's a guy I worked with in Albert Bridge House around 1961/2....if so I'd love to hear from him. Paul at ... Read More
10th October 2016 4:28pm
Sid Hildreth says...
In 1949 I was in the Royal Air Force where I met Frank Dixon for a brief period when we were doing our initial training. We both came from the North of England so we used to chat quite a bit. I seem to remember him saying that he had been playing in ... Read More
13th October 2015 9:04am
Brian Brittain says...
In 1971 I bought a well used second hand Fender Telecaster from Johny Roadhouse for the princely sum of £80. I still have it. It's a 1964 sunburst. At the time I was told it had belonged to the guitarist in the NDO.
16th November 2015 9:09am
DAVE TYAS says...
Sounds like it may have belonged to Les Beavers as he played a strat.
4th June 2016 9:45pm
Phil Roberts says...
Just sat through a 65 minute recording of a 'Pop North' broadcast from May 1967, sadly it is of poor quality (slightly warped & slow). The show featured Wayne Fontana, The Troggs & PP Arnold along with the regulars Johnny Dee Little ... Read More
20th February 2016 12:46pm
Ted Johnston says...
I used to go to watch Pop North nearly every week, my mate's sister used to work in the same office as the producer's wife, so we got our tickets through her, she used to bring a handful in and give them out We saw The Bee Gees, Amen ... Read More
20th February 2016 8:40pm
Phil Roberts says...
Great reminiscence Ted, I imagine the pub would have been The Junction, which until recently was still open for business.
28th February 2016 9:40am
Dave Tyas says...
I first met Bob Turner in the early 70,s at what was then the Mersey Hotel nr Stockport. I was working there with a cabaret band and Bob was with the resident band. He was always complimentary and a good laugh. He was a great wit with an amazing ... Read More
4th June 2016 9:42pm

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