Nostalgia: Man follows dream to give young musicians what he never had

PASSIONATE MUSICIAN John Whiteley plays Big Bertha.
PASSIONATE MUSICIAN John Whiteley plays Big Bertha.

The daughter of the man behind “Big Bertha” has spoken about her father’s passion for music after seeing his picture featured on this page recently.

John Whiteley, who had been an organist since his teens, finally saw his dream realised when he bought the West End Entertainment Centre in Gomersal in the 1980s – as a huge Compton organ came with the building.

After missing out on a music scholarship as a child, Mr Whiteley vowed someday to help teach young organists who would otherwise have been missed.

He ran a young organist club at the venue, by then known as the Three J’s.

“He was a good player,” said his daughter Janice Pryce. “He also ran concerts in Dewsbury Town Hall. His favourite songs to play were from the shows, but he could play lots of styles.”

The club burned down in 1987, but his family are keen to find out more about the regulars.

Janice added: “I would be interested to find out if there would be any regulars left from when it was open – it would be great to hear stories about the place.”