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The Group
Planning and Rehearsals
Recording the Album
Producing the Records
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After Beggars' Hill
Before Beggars' Hill:
.......... Flyntlocke
.......... King Bill Folk Club
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Acknowledgements
Contact us by email
Interesting emails
Wrong website? If you are looking for the other Beggars Hill group, which started in 2001 at Gdynia in Poland, click here.

BEGGARS' HILL

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.


After Beggars' Hill

Many years later, as they say in all the best fairy tales, something strange and rather wonderful started to happen. Our album had grown up and started to live its own life, far away from where it was born and from the people who had created it - in Germany and Japan to be precise. Later on, its travels had taken it to Singapore, The Netherlands, Canada and the U.S.A. too. But wait .......... I'm moving ahead too quickly. Let's go back and tell the story in the order it happened.

1976-1977

Remember, the album was released in 1976 as a private pressing of 500 copies and was for sale for £2.60, which was just a little below the price in those days for albums bought in record shops. By late 1977, with no members of the group in the local area to promote it at gigs, the venture had quietly faded away, so I closed the business, de-registered for VAT and claimed back an income tax rebate due to the business loss.

In 1976 there had been 500 copies of the album, of which about 100 were sold and another 15 or so given to newspapers, magazines, libraries etc. for review purposes to assist with promotion, so that left me with about 385 copies, at first ............... But by the end of 1977, I was getting married to Janice and we were buying our first house. It's probably hard to imagine, but 385 copies takes up a huge amount of space. Each box held 40 copies of the record and inner sleeve, and was about 12 inches x 12 inches x 4 inches (or 300 x 300 x 100 mm in metric), and there must have been 10 boxes of records, and then 10 more boxes of the same size for the covers. That takes up a lot of space which we did not have available in our first house. So I kept a box of records and a box of covers and took the rest to the local rubbish dump. After all, there was no chance of selling any more, was there? The group all had separate lives, careers and families, and I heard nothing more until .........

1990

I had a phone call out of the blue from a private record dealer in the U.K. As I have a surname which is unusual in the U.K., it was probably not too difficult for him to find my phone number. He was very interested in the album, how it had been organised and produced, how many copies had been pressed, and so on. Then he asked if I still had any copies available. Well, I said I had a box of 40, and he offered to buy as many as I wanted to sell for £5 each. This was a fair price at that time. CDs had been around since about 1985, but vinyl records were still being sold. He told me there was interest in Germany and Japan in old British folk records. So I sold him 35 copies, keeping the last 5 for sentimental reasons, and to ensure that I would have copies to give to my daughters, Nic and Kate Frohnsdorff, who were more excited than I was at this strange turn of events.

Late 1990s

Several years later, I had a phone call from a record collector in Germany. He must have been very determined. A fellow record collector and friend had shown him our album. Seeing my unusual surname and the notes on the cover stating that "Beggars' Hill is in Ewell, Surrey", he had contacted Directory Enquiries. Although I no longer lived in the area, my brother, Melvyn Frohnsdorff, had bought a house in Stoneleigh where he lived with Sandra, his wife, and their sons, Mark and Simon Frohnsdorff. Melvyn gave the German record collector my phone number where we were living then at Walton-in-Gordano, Clevedon, near Bristol. When he spoke with me, I said I didn't have a spare copy to sell him, but I did suggest that his friend could copy the record on a cassette recorder (CD Writers weren't widely available then).

I then discovered to my amazement that they weren't really interested in playing the music, as that would damage the record and reduce its value. It seemed that they wanted the record for its rarity value. When I dumped all those records 20 years earlier, I had apparently increased its rarity and also its value! Isn't that ironic?

1998

My brother, Tony Frohnsdorff, was working in Croydon at that time and while walking around the shops he found the specialist record shop, Beanos. You can imagine his surprise when he saw our record on prominent display on sale for £250! He recognised it immediately due to its striking cover, and because I'd given him a copy when it was released 22 years previously.

1999

I was contacted by BBC Local Radio about a feature they were planning about musical connections with the area around Ewell, Surrey (apparently Eric Clapton was married at Epsom Registry Office). I was told that a copy of our album had been donated to the local museum at Bourne Hall (when I lived in Ewell I had often visited the Library and Museum at Bourne Hall, which was only 100m from the pub where we held the King Bill Folk Club - it is no longer called the King William IV, it has been refurbished and renamed). I heard nothing further, but my Uncle John happened by chance to hear the programme. It was broadcast on Southern Counties Radio, and as well as mentioning our album, they actually played one of the tracks (don't know which one).

2002

We discovered that our album was found listed in the Penguin Price Guide for Record & CD Collectors, quoting £200 for a copy in mint condition. Around this time we were busy arranging our reunion, and there were several exchanges of emails between John, Peter and myself when one of us discovered another mention of the album on the internet.

2003

We had our reunion at Jo and Chris Walker's house at Emsworth. Six of the original eleven performers were able to attend - Jo & Chris (obviously), John Davis, Peter Sharp, Pete Roberts and Dave Frohnsdorff, plus Peter Butcher, who was such a big help during the planning stages and the recording sessions, and John Bishop and Jane Cooper, who were in the original Flyntlocke line-up, together with several partners. Unfortunately, Marc (Scotland) and Neil (Copenhagen) were unable to attend, and we were unable to contact Robin, Laura or John Rodd 28 years after the recording session. It was great to meet up again and talk about the good old days.

To quote Peter Sharp, "an enjoyable nostalgia fest - thanks to Jo & Chris for accommodating, & Ella & Hugh for putting up with middle-aged weirdos!"

Back: Chris Walker, John Bishop, Peter Sharp, Pete Roberts, Dave Frohnsdorff. Front: Peter Butcher, John Davis, Jo Walker, Jane Cooper
Back: Chris Walker, John Bishop, Peter Sharp, Pete Roberts, Dave Frohnsdorff
Front: Peter Butcher, John Davis, Jo Walker, Jane Cooper in 2003
2005

Our album was auctioned on eBay and sold for £103. The transaction is listed on popsike.com, a rare records auction results website, giving complimentary comments about the music.

2006

The blog "Time Has Told Me" by Lizardson & Friends listed our album, with some of the comments in Japanese (I think!). I wonder what they mean - the automatic translator doesn't make much sense of it.

2007

Beth Davis, daughter of John Davis, discovered that our album was in another auction on eBay. The seller was from Singapore and wanted £150 - I don't know whether it sold or not.

2008

The album was for sale in April on various internet sites, at prices including £225 (Kent, UK), EUR180 (Netherlands) and 39,000 (Yen?) (Japan). In September it was auctioned on eBay and sold for £93.

During an internet search, I discovered that there is another group called Beggars Hill, which started in 2001 at the Gdynia Baptist Church in Poland.

Following the launch of this website, I had an email in August from a guy in the U.S.A. who has two copies of the record, one of which he bought from a record dealer in Canada. The record has travelled further than I have!

On 1st September, the day after the website was listed on the "Time Has Told Me" blog, the website was swamped with 1775 hits, and exceeded my bandwidth limit for the whole month in just one day. These were from all round the world - including Japan 266, U.S.A. 205, Netherlands 89, U.K. 67, Italy 64, Poland 61, France 57, Denmark 39, Germany 36, Australia 27, Russian Federation 26, Greece 17, Argentina 7, Portugal 6, Spain 4, Hungary 3, Switzerland 1, with the rest unable to be established. As they were so widely spaced geographically, there were hits on the website in every hour of that day. I'm really amazed that there was so much interest.

In November, I was contacted by Anthology Recordings, who were interested in selling the album by digital downloads on the internet. By then, I had been in correspondence by email with several music collectors who had contacted me via the website. I knew from their emails that they were more interested in an official CD release than in digital downloads, so I did not proceed with Anthology Recordings, but decided to wait for a better offer.

2009

In July, I had an email from my old bandmate, Chris Walker:

"Hi Dave, Hope you are all well. I am getting in contact as a very old friend from University 'phoned - Kingsley Abbott. He was, and still is, great buddies with all the Fairport mob ......................... Kingsley now writes for a variety of small publications that deal with 60/70s soft / folk rock. He was asked recently by Talking Elephant Records if he knew of any folk rock records from the era that might be good for publication on CD. My friend said he thought he did - 'Beggars' Hill'! I hope you don't mind [as if!] but I have given Kingsley your home phone and a chap called Barry Riddington should call in about a week's time to discuss. So I hope it sounds OK to you when he contacts you. Do keep in touch and let me know how it turns out. All the best, Chris."

Several days later the phone rang and it was Barry Riddington at Talking Elephant Records. (Many thanks to Kingsley and Chris!). I was already aware of Talking Elephant Records as a company which releases CDs by many of my favourite folk-rock artists, including the Albion Band and Fairport Convention, so I was delighted when Barry offered to release the Beggars' Hill album on CD. After much hard bargaining (!), we agreed a deal, and the CD should be ready for release early in 2010.

2010

In January, I was sent a copy of the master CD and the artwork for the case for approval before they went into production. In February, the CD was released and available from the Talking Elephant website. On the Amazon website it is available for pre-order, with release due on 1st March.

As we didn't have access to the original recording tapes from 1975, the CD was mastered by a professional company from an untouched, unplayed vinyl record, and they washed it first to be really sure (sounds a bit risky, but it's apparently the best way). It sounds good to me, the clearest I've ever heard it - including the little imperfections! I still think it's something we should all be proud of.

The original 12" vinyl cover has been shrunk to CD size, and Chris' friend Kingsley Abbott, who recommended us to Talking Elephant Records, has written some sleeve notes, putting it in context for 1975 and for 2010, 35 years later.


That brings us up to date - I'll add any more news as I get it. I expect some of my colleagues are aware of things that I don't know yet!

If you're interested in our individual lives since 1976, click here and follow the links marked "Life after Beggars' Hill".


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From left, Chris Walker, Peter Sharp, John Davis, Pete Roberts, Jo Walker, Dave Frohnsdorff at the 2003 reunion
From left, Chris Walker, Peter Sharp, John Davis, Pete Roberts, Jo Walker, Dave Frohnsdorff at the 2003 reunion

Marc Isherwood in 2002
Marc Isherwood in 2002
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