The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Madeleine Newland - Cassette Tape Recordings Queen


I knew Maddy from when we both volunteered at the New Milton Talking Newspaper.

In 2016, I was alerted by Bob Lowe, then one of the leading lights at the New Milton Talking Newspaper, that Maddy, one of their Registrars, had a collection of tape recordings that she wished to donate to a museum.

When I visited her, I found that there were hundreds of tapes of light music with introductions from a script, recorded by Maddy herself (using the microphone shown in the photo).

I found out that she had been a presenter on Lymington Hospital Radio before she set up a Monday Morning Tape Service, where she made cassette tapes available to local care homes. I was also shown various newspaper articles and photos of Maddy's contribution to the local community including fund-raising and her time as Secretary of the Ratepayers' Association (now New Milton Residents’ Association).

I thought that what she had achieved was extraordinary and her story should be told.

I asked local historian Nick Saunders if he would join me in another visit and as a result Nick wrote an article about Maddy in the June 2016 edition of the New Milton Mail/Barton Bugle.

Maddy was highly delighted with the article. She was a “Welcomer” at the Catholic Church in Mount Avenue and people at the church had spotted the article and wanted to chat about it with her. Lovely!

After an examination of Maddy's collection, it became clear that we would not be able to find a home for the whole collection, which was a disappointment to Maddy.

It was agreed that I would identify say 6 tapes and scripts which had a local interest, as a potential display, should the opportunity present itself.

I made a few more visits and took away boxes of tapes, bundles of scripts and record books. I compiled quite a detailed report with various appendices, some of which I shared with Maddy.

After many years, it occurred to me that I should at least put the main part of my report in my website.

New Forest Hospital Radio

For many years, the Talking Newspaper has had close links with the Hospital Radio in Lymington, e.g. at one time 4 of the Talking Newspaper volunteers had been presenters on Lymington Hospital Radio (now New Forest Hospital Radio).

Maddy talked to me about her time at the Hospital Radio, which began over 35 years ago! At that time, the service was projected as Radio Link, Lymington.

She used to have the 6.00 – 7.30 slot on a Sunday Evening and remembers broadcasting her programmes and never seeing a soul!

In those days the studio was in a separate building on the Infirmary site in Lymington. Maddy always operated from a script and used to turn up in good time with her box of records, ready for her live broadcasts.

There was a radio link to Linden House for the Blind in Lymington and Maddy remembers her husband Lou going to the care home to listen to the broadcasts with the residents.

In due course presenters were encouraged to pre-record their programmes using tapes which could be recorded at home. Through her links with the Solent Mead care home in Lymington, Maddy started to play the tapes to residents on a Wednesday evening and took her dog with her, which was very popular!

The tapes also meant that Maddy had the means to offer the Monday Morning Tape Service to other care homes.

Understandably, there is no one at the Hospital Radio that remembered Maddy but she was delighted when the owner of the Gatehouse care home in Becton Lane, Barton on Sea recognised Maddy from her Monday morning visits, when Maddy visited a resident there!

Tony Clark, a Sound Engineer at the Talking Newspaper, was then President of the Hospital Radio. He gave Maddy a guided tour of the studio in the hospital which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Maddy undertook recordings for the Hospital Radio (3 years) and her Monday Morning Tape Service (15 years) which were important to patients in Lymington Hospital and residents in local care homes.

Monday Morning Tape Service

It is the amount of work, time and effort in producing the tapes that are a lasting memory.

Each programme had to be researched (and they were well-researched!) and related music tracks (approximately 30 tracks in each tape) – and some poems and quizzes- selected. Scripts were typed without a word processor and 90 minute recordings were made of short narratives followed by music.

Just a basic tower (with a turntable, twin cassette facilities and a microphone) was used.

What Maddy offered us was a unique collection. As Madeleine Hall and then Madeleine Newland, Maddy recorded and distributed tapes for 15 years. For the Monday Morning Tape Service, extraordinarily approx. 600 visits each were made to 4 of the care homes.

Yes, the recordings are not up today’s demanding standards but they are clever and interesting and have a charm of their own. What an effort on Maddy’s part!

I like to imagine the scene year after year, with Maddy being driven round up to 15 care homes on a Monday morning, picking up last week’s tape and leaving a fresh one. Quite amazing!

Maddy’s Vital Statistics

In all, Maddy wrote 133 scripts for broadcast on Radio Link, Lymington, during 27.1.1986- 18.12.1988.

First scripts written

For the Monday Morning Tape Service, there were 183 scripts and tapes (134-316) from 2.1.1989.

During the period 1989-2004, Maddy provided a weekly tape service to 26 care homes in the New Milton area (not all at the same time!)

Colin Bower
15 November 2023

Link to:
Article in New Milton Mail/Barton Bugle

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