Ronnie Bridges

Co-writer of 'Gibraltar Anthem'


Ronald Vincent Bridges, pianist and lyricist: born London 15 March 1919; married 1947 Joan Albrow (two sons, one daughter); died Shenfield, Essex 8 December 2005.

The Windmill Theatre in London was where many learned their craft - Harry Secombe, Terry Scott, Jimmy Edwards, Arthur Haynes, Dave King. When a young pianist and songwriter, Ronnie Bridges, approached the Windmill's owner, Vivian van Damm, he was put on trial for three weeks. He stayed 19 years and was there when the theatre closed in 1964.

One of his treasured recollections was playing when Alfred Marks and Eric Woodburn, a famous character actor, were sharing the same roles. There were six shows a day and the two actors did three each. Things went terribly wrong, due to an administrative error, and both actors suddenly appeared on stage from either side to do the same show. The cast were in hysterics. The audience realised something was not quite right, but joined in with applause.

Bridges was born in 1919 and began his professional career as an insurance clerk with National Employer's Mutual before going into the Army. Invalided out due to a foot defect, he decided to join Ensa, as they were short of pianists, and found himself in the British Liberation Army. Whilst working with Claude Hulbert in West Africa he played in a show that was produced by Jack Hulbert, who encouraged him to write lyrics for revue and, once back in England and with the Windmill Theatre, he teamed up with a colleague, Charlie Rose, who wrote the music.

Following the closure of the Windmill, Bridges joined Liber-Southern Music as a composer and publisher. For many years he was a director of the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters. He retired from the academy when he was 70 years old, but remained on the committee for its Gold Badge Awards and attended this year's ceremony at the Savoy Hotel in October.

Bridges played the organ at Harry Secombe's wedding in 1948. He played piano for the auditions of Bruce Forsyth and Bob Monkhouse at the Windmill. Over the years he was the accompanist on television for Doris Hare, Tommy Cooper, Leslie Sarony, Jimmy Edwards and Leslie Crowther. For many years he appeared on the BBC Light Programme in Roundabout, where he was commissioned to write original or topical songs for the programmes. He wrote or co-wrote more than 200 songs, many of which have been recorded, including "You're Closer to Me" (Matt Monro) and "Where the Bullets Fly" (Susan Maughan). From 1957 to 1962 he played piano for George Robey for his concert acts.

In 2004 Bridges shared a proud and historic occasion with the former BBC producer Brian Willey. They were invited to attend St Clement Danes, London, to mark 300 years of British rule in Gibraltar and heard a song they had written 35 years before. In 1966, pursuing its ongoing dispute over sovereignty on the Rock, Spain had closed the border with Gibraltar. To boost local morale, Willey and Bridges submitted an entry to the 1969 Gibraltar Song Festival - "The Gibraltar Anthem (Our Rock, Our Home, Our Pride)". In due course Dorothy Squires recorded the song (known locally as "Rock of Ages"), as did the Gibraltar Cathedral Choir. The then organiser was a local parish priest; today he is the Right Rev Charles Caruana, Roman Catholic Bishop of Gibraltar, and it was he who selected it for performance in the London ceremony.

Willey noted that they were the only living composers represented during the service, but Bridges, at 85, ruefully remarked, "Well, only just!"

Keith Skues

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst/ Project Manager - Financial Services

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 6 Teachers urgently needed for su...

English Secondary Teacher

£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: English Teacher needed for ...

Year 3/4 Teacher - Immediate Start

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 3/4 Teacher Needed in Flintshire ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits