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Photo of Ivy Herbert

Ivy Herbert

Music Teacher
Birthplace Newport Wales Date of Birth: June 7, 1893 Date of Death: November 4, 1993


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by): Genevieve Natalie Estelle Herbert

Gender: Female

Date and Place of Birth: December 4th, 1893, Newport, Wales

Date and Place of Death: November 4th, 1993, Bromley, England.

Nationality: Welsh


Childhood: 21 Leeds Road, Newport, Monmouth, Wales.

Parents: Alfred James Herbert, Lillia Herbert.

Parent’s occupations: Alfred James Herbert: Engineer.

Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: Royal Academy of Music, 1910 – 1916

College School:

Occupation: Musician/ College Tutor.

Place of residence at Gretna: 18 Victory Avenue, Gretna.

Job title at Gretna: Music Teacher.

Marital status: Unmarried.

Children: None

Travels: Newport, London, Gretna, Dorking, Bromley.

Awards/recognitions: Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music

Trivia / any other information:

Ivy Herbert was christened on 27 September 1893 as Genevieve Natalie Estelle Herbert and spent her early years at 107 Duckpool Road, Graindee. Her father Alfred was a ships engineer. By 1901 the family resided at Holly’s House on Somerset Road and the census recorded Genevieve as Ivy GNE Herbert. ‘Ivy’ likely as a nickname due to her precocious talent on the keyboard, and she would use the name Ivy Herbert for the bulk of her career as a musician and composer. In 1911 Ivy enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music and in December 1911 passed the Metropolitan Exam as a performer in Pianoforte. Pianoforte Ivy specialised in the instrument for most of her career.

On leaving the Royal Academy, Ivy, was employed at HM Gretna as a music teacher. Professional musicians had been brought into the factory to provide compliment for the productions of the Operatic society. Ivy it seems was tasked with developing a house orchestra to supplement the operatic and choral society. With this task completed a farewell concert was organised at the Border Hall on Saturday 10 March 1917. Ivy performed some of her music and star turns by the “Three Macs” and the “Gretna Pierrots” helped ensure a large turn out for the event. On leaving Gretna, Ivy returned to London residing at 20 Alexander-street, Bayswater close to the portrait artist Mabel Lee Hankey (at No 26). Ivy took up a position as tutor at the Royal Academy, an early student was the Australian Journalist, Janet Mitchell who described her as a ‘talented pianist with a forceful personality’. During the summer of 1918 Six Miniatures for Piano was issued by Joseph Williams Ltd, it was Ivy’s first published work. It is highly likely that pieces from this collection were written or performed at HM Gretna.

More work followed with Six Short Pieces for Piano in 1919 Danse de Piano in 1920 and Two Short Pieces for Piano in 1921. Ivy’s academic career at the Royal Academy also progressed achieving the position of Professor of Pianoforte before she had reached 30. Besides live performances Ivy was a regular feature on radio which included educational broadcast for schools on the Cardiff channel and a series of short recitals on the World Service, All India Radio in 1937. By 1930 Florence Potto had moved into Alexander-street. She worked as a welfare organiser but may also have acted as a secretary for Ivy. By the late 1930s Ivy and Florence had relocated to Dorking initially taking up residence at 4 Westcott Street then later at Fir Crest Cottage at Westcott. Ivy was quickly involved in the local music scene acting as the honorary secretary for the Surrey County Music Committee. Formed in late 1941 the body was chaired by the eminent composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams who had settled in Dorking in 1929 taking up residence at ‘The White Gates’.

Ivy was also involved with the Council for the Encouragement of Music and Arts (CEMA). It was established in January 1940. One CEMA organised event was held close to Ivy’s Westcott home at the Abinger Village Hall in May 1942. The event attracted a good turn out with Ralph Vaughan Williams amongst the audience. On January 31st, 1943, Ivy along with Margery Cullen played through the Fifth Symphony before a small audience on two at Abinger Village Hall. The piece had its first orchestral performance at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios on May 25th, 1943, and Ivy was among the invited guests attending the session. The war hadn’t gone away however, with raids taking place within the Dorking area. On March 14th, 1944, a Junkers Ju 88 was brought down at Blackbrook on March 14th, 1944, and a V 1 came down in Abinger Common, close to where the Fifth Symphony was rehearsed, destroying a local church.

As a result, Ivy Herbert and Florence Potto sheltered at The White Gate in a room specially set out for them. They stayed there until 1948 when Herbert and Potto took up at 16 Church Road in Dorking. She returned to the Academy to sit an LARAM exam (Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music) and poured her energies into teaching. Ivy and Florence resided in Dorking for the next twenty years. Florence Potto died in the early months of 1969 while Ivy Herbert, remained at 16 Church Street until the mid 1970s. She spent her remaining years in Bromley where she died on November 4th, 1993, a few months after her 100th birthday; little notice was taken of her passing.


Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):

Herbert, Ivy. Six Miniatures for Piano, London, J Williams, 1918.

Herbert, Ivy. Cradle Song, for the pianoforte. Op 1. No. 3., London, J Williams, 1920.

Herbert, Ivy. Swinging Song, for the pianoforte. Op 1. No. 3., London, J Williams, 1926.

Herbert, Ivy. Valse charme, for Piano, London, J Williams, 1928.

Herbert, Ivy. The Linnet (Song.) The words by Robert Bridges. London, Oxford University Press, 1947.

Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):

Mitchell, Janet. Spoils of Opportunity, Methuen & Co Ltd London, 1938, 52.

Alldritt, Keith. Vaughan Williams: Composer, Radical, Patriot – a Biography, Robert Hale Ltd, 2017, 277, 280.

Hugh Cobbe, Letters of Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1895 – 1958, Oxford University Press, 2008, 358.

Mitchell, Alastair, A Chronical of First Broadcasts Performances of Musical Works, Routledge 2019.

West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813 – 1910 (1893), digital image, s.v. “Genevieve Natalie Estelle Herbert”,

1901 England & Wales Census, Newport, Monmouth, digital image, s.v. “Ivy GNE Herbert”,

1911 England & Wales Census, Newport, Monmouth, digital image, s.v. “Genevieve Natalie Estelle Herbert”,

“Royal Academy of Music”, The Musical Times, February 1, 1912, 74.

“Royal Academy of Music”, The Musical Times, August 1, 1916, 381.

“Concert in the Border Hall”, Carlisle Journal, March 16, 1917, 2.

Ivy Herbert, “Six Miniatures for Piano”, Joseph Williams Ltd, 18 August 1918.

“Miss Ivy Herbert A.R.A.M”, Western Mail, 20 October 1920, 1.

“Royal Academy of Music, The Thalberg Scholarship”, The Era, 5 October 1922, 6

London, England, City Directories, 1736 – 1943, 1925, digital image, s.v. “Miss Herbert, Ivy”,

“Wireless Notes”, Western Mail, 17 February 1925, 8

“World of Women”, Western Mail, 22 October 1928, 9.

“Society Night at N.O.W. Symphony”, Western Mail, 14 November 1928, 9

London, England, City Directories, 1736 – 1943, 1930, digital image, s.v. “Miss Herbert, Ivy”,

“BBC Transmission 4”, Indian Listener, 7 October 1937, 933

1939 England & Wales Register, Westcott, Dorking, digital image, s.v. “Genevieve N. E. Herbert”,

“At the Crossroads”, Surrey Mirror, 12 December, 1941, 5.

“C.E.M.A. Concert”, Surrey Advertiser, 16 May, 1942, 6

Surrey, England Electoral Register 1946, Reigate, Dorking, digital image, s.v. “Ivy G N E Herbert”,

Surrey, England Electoral Register 1948, Reigate, Dorking (North-West), digital image, s.v. “Genevieve Herbert”,

England & Wales National Probate Calendar, 1858-1995, digital image, s.v. “Genevieve Natalie Estelle Herbert”, (1993),

England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, digital image, s.v. “Eileen Lee”, (1975),

Blogs about the individual:
Websites about the individual:
Further links, notes, and comments:

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