Cottontown Chorus win national barbershop singers competition

The Cottontown Chorus in action

The Cottontown Chorus in action - Credit: Archant

A close-harmony acappella choir from the North West is celebrating after having been crowned the UK’s top Barbershop chorus for the sixth time in seven competitions.

Cottontown Musical Director Neil Firth and some of the champion chorus.

Cottontown Musical Director Neil Firth and some of the champion chorus. - Credit: Archant

The 63-strong Cottontown Chorus choir won the gold medal over the bank holiday weekend at the annual convention of the British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) in Harrogate. A large part of their singing membership comes from places within Cheshire such as Stockport, Bramhall, Altrincham, Wilmslow, Alderley and Hale.

Cottontown was up against 34 other choirs from around the UK who had made it to the finals and they performed to an enthusiastic audience of over 1,500. They will now be invited to compete at the International Convention in Las Vegas next year where they would be up against the best choruses in the world.

The world of barbershop singing has changed enormously in recent times. Gone (thankfully!) are the days of straw boaters, stripy blazers and cheesy ditties. Wilmslow resident Neil Firth, the Musical Director of The Cottontown Chorus, says ‘What surprises people when they hear a top chorus nowadays is the beautiful choral quality of the sound and the emotional power that it delivers. That’s achieved through a high level of technical skill and a lot of effort. We worked incredibly hard for this year’s contest including flying in top international coaches for three separate workshop weekends and it really paid off for us. We hope to be able to accept the invitation to compete in Las Vegas next year and represent Bolton on the world stage’.

For a British chorus to be invited to sing at the International Convention next year is a great opportunity but it’s a massive undertaking. Cottontown Chairman Ian Ford from Hale says ‘To get over 60 members plus supporters over to Vegas is a logistical nightmare to say the least! It’s also not inexpensive and we don’t want any members to miss out on the experience because of the cost. So we will be mounting a big fund-raising drive in the next few weeks. If anyone is willing to help us out in however small a way we would be very grateful. We’re also available to book for concerts, corporate dinners and other special events.’

Singing is more popular than ever – you just have to think about the interest in programmes such as The Voice, Gareth Malone’s The Naked Choir (and his recent inspirational Invictus Choir) and Britain’s Got Talent. So for anyone who’s interested in singing close harmony, The Cottontown Chorus are actively looking to recruit more singers and they encourage you to get in touch through their website and go to see them in rehearsal. Rehearsals are held in Bolton but members come to sing with them every Tuesday from across the North West and the Midlands.

More details on the chorus can be found at