‘Pack up your troubles’ house, St Asaph

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Link to French translation‘Pack up your troubles’ house, St Asaph

This building was the birthplace of the Powell brothers, who wrote the words and tune of the popular First World War song Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-bag.

The date 1745 appears on the L-shaped building. The part adjoining NatWest bank was a Temperance Hotel in the early 20th century. Today the ground floor of the section beside High Street is home to Sarah Tonin Beauty Salon.

Felix Lloyd Powell (1878-1942) and George Henry Powell (1880-1951) were born to Sarah Snelson and her husband John Morris Powell, a musically-gifted lay clerk at the cathedral who earned his living painting houses. After their schooling in St Asaph, the brothers formed – with their wives and others – a popular band which toured music halls. George sang and wrote lyrics, Felix played the piano and composed music. George took the stage name George Asaf, after his home town.

In 1915 the brothers entered a music publisher’s song competition. Their song, Pack Up Your Troubles, won in the category for marching songs and rapidly became a morale-booster sung by troops amid the horrors of the war. It was a hit in the USA in 1916. Felix drafted the tune in 6/8 time signature, with a lilting quality, but soon changed it to the 2/4 we’re familiar with today – perhaps to suit the competition’s marching-song category.

The band broke up when Felix formed a new group to tour trenches on the Western Front. George, a pacifist, declined to go. The brothers re-united as performers between the wars in Sussex, where Felix joined the Home Guard in the Second World War. He deliberately shot himself in 1942 and soon died in hospital in Brighton. George died in Hove in 1951 after suffering poor health for several years.

Postcode: LL17 0RF    View Location Map

Website of Sarah Tonin Beauty Salon

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