The Deyne School of Music

Andrew Holmes, Dynamic Collections Project Volunteer

In the early to mid-twentieth century, many thought that Scunthorpe was not a musical town. Miss E. Houghton in An Industrial Island, A History of Scunthorpe rejects this misconception. For example, she tells of the Scunthorpe Philharmonic Orchestra which re-formed from 1920 until 1940. Here, players studied symphonies by Beethoven, Mozart and other composers.

Houghton also tells of the Scunthorpe Musical Festival. This began in 1919 as The North Lindsey Annual Musical Festival and Arts and Crafts Exhibition. By 1939 the festival existed as two distinct sections. Harold Dudley, a founder and former curator at the then Scunthorpe Museum, was secretary of the music section. This section encompassed vocal classes, choir, solo and sight-reading. Instrumental classes, elocution and folk dancing were also featured.

Curiously, the Deyne School of Music is absent from records of Scunthorpe’s music history.

The Deyne School of Music logo.

The Deyne School of Music was a well-known, respected school of pianoforte teaching. Laura Cossins and Percy Cossins founded the school. The couple were pivotal in arranging many festivals of music. They brought to Scunthorpe, for the first time, some of the world’s greatest pianists. These included Moisevitch, Louis Kentner, Rawicz and Landauer. As well as other fine musicians of the time including James Ching, Reginald Paul, Maurice Cole, Felix Swinstead, Harold Craxton, Ambrose Coviello, Egerton Tidmarsh, and Vivian Langrish.

Laura Middleton and her husband Percy Cossins.

Officially, the Deyne School of Music was founded in 1943 when Percy and Laura got married. Laura opted to keep her maiden name of Middleton. She was known affectionately as Miss Middleton.

Laura Middleton, known affectionately as Miss Middleton.

Laura’s parents were market gardeners. They grew produce from their large gardens in Church Street, Messingham. They had a large orchard with apple trees laden with fruit. The nearby road, Middleton Close, is named after this influential family.

Prior to the school’s founding, both Laura and Percy were teaching music.

Percy Cossins playing the piano.

Laura opened her first music school on Deyne Avenue, Scunthorpe, around the late 1920s. This would have served as inspiration for the school’s name. The pair held their first music festival in 1941. This featured the ‘combined pupils of Laura Middleton and Percy Cossins’.

In 1942 the school was known as ‘Deyne Music Studios’. During this period, they were situated at 22 Cole Street, Scunthorpe.

This article is the first of a three-part series which will explore the history of the Deyne School of Music in Scunthorpe. Andrew Holmes is a Project Volunteer on the National Lottery Heritage Funded project, Documenting Northern Lincolnshire’s Local History.


Miss E. Houghton, ‘Music in Scunthorpe’ in An Industrial Island: A History of Scunthorpe, ed. by M. Elizabeth Armstrong (1981), pp.196-189.

Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph, 26 November 1993.

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