Collection Carroll - Carroll Papers

Identity area

Reference code

GB GB1179 Carroll


Carroll Papers


  • c.1850-c.1999 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

4 subfonds

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Ida Gertrude Carroll (1905-1995). Her career in music education started as a student of the Northern School of Music and then as Secretary to the Board, as Deputy and Acting Principal and finally as Principal from 1958 until 1971, all within the NSM. She is widely remembered for her fierce loyalty to the NSM and its students. She was instrumental in the merging of the NSM and Royal Manchester College of Music to become to the Royal Northern College of Music. She later became Companion and Dean of Management of the Royal Northern College of Music. She was Chair of the College Old Students’ Association and part of the Association of Friends. After her retirement from education, she became President of the Incorporated Society of Musicians. In addition to her full-time work Ida Carroll was a freelance double bass player, and a leading figure in a number of organisations including Chetham's School of Music, European String Teachers Association and the National Youth Orchestra. Although she never married, Ida Carroll was lifelong companion of Geoffrey Griffiths, Bursar at the Northern School of Music.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Elsa Mary Carroll (1898-1993) was educated at the Manchester High School for Girls. On leaving school she became a clerk with the Northern Universities Joint Matriculation Board where she worked until her retirement. She was however best known in the area for founding the 1st Withington Girl Guide Company (in 1918) which she led until her retirement in 1974. 1st Withington was notable for its support of local elderly people, a cause dear to Elsa Carroll's heart as she worked as a volunteer for the Abbeyfield Society, presenting it with the house next-door to the Carroll family's in Lapwing Lane. In 1979 she was awarded the MBE. Elsa Carroll died in 1993.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Walter Carroll, the sixth child and only son of Richard (b.1829) an upholsterer and Fanny W. (b.1832), was born in 1869. Working hard to escape his humble beginnings he was the first person to gain the DMus by examination at the Victoria University of Manchester, taking other degrees at Durham University. He held several posts at the University of Manchester and at the Royal Manchester College of Music, delivering the first lecture on the opening of the latter institution in 1893. He became the first Professor in the Art and Practice of Teaching at the RMCM, resigning in 1918 to become Manchester's first Music Adviser (part-time from 1918, full­time from 1920, retiring in 1934). Carroll appointed six full-time peripatetic specialists over the period 1919 to 1928 to give music appreciation classes in the elementary schools, and also ran extremely popular out-of-­hours Training Courses in Music for the "all-subjects" teachers in the elementary schools (1918-1934). Virtually every practising teacher attended at least one year of the three year course. In 1925 he also produced a best-selling Handbook of Music that ran to 10,000 copies in three editions that were widely distributed at home and abroad. It is however his music for children, written originally for his daughters Elsa and Ida, which is Carroll's claim to enduring fame. The key to its success was that children could play a harmonised tune before they could even read music properly (or at all) by singing or reciting the printed tunes to the words of a short header poem that scanned exactly with the rhythms of the music as they simultaneously discovered how to play it. After Scenes at a Farm, published by Forsyth Brothers Ltd in 1912, came all the other sets over a period of forty one years. These included The Countryside (1912), Sea Idylls (1914), Forest Fantasies (1916), Water Sprites (1923), and River and Rainbow (1933). All had exquisite cover illustrations by hand-picked, internationally renowned artists who unerringly matched their work to Carroll's titles and music: among them were W Heath Robinson, Arthur Rackham and Charles Folkard. The uniqueness of Carroll's brilliant idea was to fire the child's imagination by uniting what he called the Sister Arts: by simultaneously stimulating the child visually and poetically as well as musically. Many of his works are still in print. Carroll also held various posts as Choirmaster and Organist, most notably at St. James, Birch-in-Rusholme, Manchester, from 1916 until 1938. He married Gertrude A. Southam (1868-1958) in 1896, and they had two daughters, Elsa and Ida. Walter Carroll died in 1955, and a memorial window was placed in the Musicians Chapel, St Sepulchre without Newgate, in 1958. His wife Gertrude is commemorated with a shelter and seat in Portpatrick, where the family spent many of their holidays.

Archival history

Walter Carroll papers bequeathed to the RNCM by Ida Carroll. Ida Carroll, Elsa Carroll and family papers on indefinite loan from the Ida Carroll Trust.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Correspondence, music, photographs and other items accumulated or created by members of the Carroll family - chiefly Walter and Ida Carroll, but also Elsa Carroll and Geoffrey Griffiths.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Following the cataloguing of the Papers, a number of items were dispersed in March 2004 as follows: - Duplicate items where copies were kept together have been returned to the Ida Carroll Trust (chiefly orders of service for the dedication of the memorial window to Walter Carroll at St Sepulchre's, 1956, and associated papers); - One box of photocopies of items from the papers, made by the biographers Basil Howitt and Percy Welton during the 1990s, were returned to the Ida Carroll Trust; - A number of items of printed music, records and books on music were transferred to the RNCM Library (list available); - A number of books were returned to the Ida Carroll Trust (list available).
On the death of Ida Carroll, the last surviving member of the family, in 1995 the family home 117 Lapwing Lane Didsbury was cleared by her executors. Original order was impossible to ascertain for the majority of the papers, although a few items were filed in drawers or otherwise organised. An arrangement has therefore been imposed, retaining where possible any discernible original order. The papers have been divided into four subfonds (in some cases such attribution has been made by a "best guess"): WC - papers accumulated and created by Walter Carroll; EMC - papers accumulated and created by Elsa Carroll; IGC - papers accumulated and created by Ida Carroll; Family - papers and other items accumulated collectively by the family.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access


Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright of Walter Carroll, Ida Carroll and Elsa Carroll is held by the Ida Carroll Trust.

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Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

The majority of the fonds is on paper, with a large number of photographs. Most items are in a good condition.

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Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Description control area

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Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

WickhaS, 31/01/2003. Revised by Roberthe, 22/06/2011




Digital object (Master) rights area

Digital object (Reference) rights area

Digital object (Thumbnail) rights area

Accession area