Archived Histories of Brass Bands 
Bands Directory   |   Events   |   Products & Services   |   People   |   Organisations   |   Reference   |   About IBEW   |   Contact

This page is part of an archive of historical details from existing or defunct brass band websites. This is being maintained to provide a record of this information in the event of a band folding, its website disappearing or other loss of the historical record. Where possible, and appropriate, the information cached will be updated from time to time - and any corrections or updates are welcome.

Chalk Farm Band

The Early Years

All over the world the name Chalk Farm is chiefly connected with its famous Salvation Army Band. This combination was formed a year after the opening of the corps in 1882 under the leadership of Bandmaster Worbouys. Legend has it that instruments were given to the most handsome young men in the corps. Judge for yourself in this the earliest known photograph of the band taken in 1887

The band's very first engagement was at Camberwell to assist Commander Ballington Booth. The bandsmen marched the 20 miles there on the Sunday morning and back after the night meeting. In 1889 the Band, by special request played to the Army Mother, Catherine Booth, as she lay on her deathbed. Diligent application to practice and performance resulted in the band being chosen as a solo band in one of the earliest International Congresses in London in 1898. The Chalk Farm Band has been similarly honored at numerous National and International events since.

A significant contribution to the development of the Band was the appointment of the very youthful (18 years old) A.W.Punchard to the position of Bandmaster in 1894 - an association which was to continue until his death in 1950. AWP was something of an innovator as the addition to the bands instrumentation of the saxophones and tenor cors (or winkles, as they were colloquially known) shows in this picture. Sadly they are no longer with us.

He also introduced the concept of Salvation Army Bands touring with the first Chalk Farm Band tour being a week-long tour of Scotland. These tours were carried out in open-top charabangs and cars the band being dressed in white dustcoats to protect their precious uniforms.

AWP was to hold the position of Corps Bandmaster, and latterly that of National Bandmaster, for fifty years. For his services to British Salvation Army Banding he was awarded the ultimate Salvation Army honour, the Order of the Founder.

In addition to the many tours undertaken in this period, the band made its first recording in 1912 for Pathe Frere, and it's first radio broadcast in 1924. Having briefly retired in 1938, Bandmaster Punchard took up the baton again during the Second World War, before finally handing the band over to Frank Rawbone in 1944.

The results of Bandmaster Rawbone's leadership of the men returning from the war, as well as those left behind was shown in the first postwar overseas campaign by an Army band to Sweden in 1948.

The Michael Clack Years

Michael Clack, continued this precedent of long service, being the distinguished bandmaster for over thirty years. He first led the band in 1963, retiring from this position in March 2001.

A rear view of Michael is probably best known from the rostrum in front of the Chalk Farm Band and at the console of the Grand Organ of the Royal Albert and Wesley Central Halls where he has provided the accompaniment at many of the 'Army's major events. In 1997, he was honoured with an MBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his service to Music Education.

At a festival marking his retirement, attended by many former bandsmen, the Territorial Commander Commissioner Alex Hughes paid tribute to his years of service, and presented a Certificate of Recognition. Bandsman Peter Knightley also presented a tribute, (which is published in the reports section.)

Following Bandmaster Clack's retirement in 2001, leadership of the band passed to Deputy Bandmaster Jonathan Evans, who had previously occupied the principal euphonium position in the band. He was replaced on the euphonium section by Bandmaster Clack

Overseas Visits/Tours

Right from the early days the Chalk Farm Band has always travelled extensively. You only have to take a look at the battle honours on the Band Flag to see how many countries it has visited and revisited over the years. Those pioneering tours include some notable firsts for a British Corps Band which will never be equalled: a visit to Nazi Berlin in 1936, a Papal audience in Vatican City in 1967, attendance at the first Spanish Congress in 1986 and the Georgian Jubilee in 1998 , the list goes on and on. The Chalk Farm Bands' twenty fourth tour was to Australia and Tasmania in 1988. More recently the Band visited Holland and Germany in 1995 and, in 1997, conducted two separate tours to Denmark and later Switzerland.

The thirtieth tour in 1998 was to the former Russian state of Georgia, a truly memorable occasion. With many opportunities to experience to difficulties under which our Georgian comrades steadfastly maintain their Christian witness. From the monotony of the housing estates where the schoolteachers had not been paid for 6 years to the faded grandeur of the Tiblisi Opera House this was a tour of contrasts. We were humbled by the sterling work carried out, day after day, by the small staff of dedicated officers and their hard won soldiers.

In sharp contrast, the Band visited Osaka, Japan's second largest city in October 2000. It took part in the Midosuji Parade through a wide thoroughfare crowded with over a million people, and presented concerts in arenas seating 10,000. At the other end of the scale, it played on a rooftop for just 100 senior citizens and pre school children, as well as taking part in Salvation Army services at a local corps.

In May 2003, the band, visited the Stavanger Salvation Army in Norway. This was followed by a trip to the Finland and Estonia Territory at Easter 2005.

A London Band

Based in Central London the Band is in much demand for high profile civic, ecumenical and media events. The Lord Mayor's Procession, the 50th Anniversary of VJ Day Parade, Dinners & Receptions in London's Mansion House for Her Majesty the Queen and Civic Dignitaries, the 200th Wesley Anniversary, Interdenominational Services and Charity Concerts in St. Paul's Cathedral, the Church of St. Martin-in-the-fields and the historic Tower of London to name but a few.

The Band has appeared annually on the BBC TV Show "Blue Peter" throughout most of its record 40-year run. In spite of this apparently busy secular schedule the Band's primary function is to participate fully in the weekly religious services, both indoor and in the open-air, around the cosmopolitan area of North London known as Chalk Farm.

Everyone asks, "Where is Chalk Farm?" It's on the northern edge of central London about 2 miles north of the Kings Cross and St Pancras railway stations. To the north and east of us are the affluent areas of Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill, home to actors, pop stars, TV presenters, politicians, and finance brokers. To the west and south into the City of London, is the high density housing area of Camden, well known to tourists from around the world for its weekend Antique and Craft Market.

The people of this cosmopolitan community come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, speaking many languages, observing many religions and customs. In this environment the Chalk Farm Corps of the Salvation Army strives to maintain a centre of Christian witness, and a social outreach to the many and varied needs evident in the locality.

As with all Salvation Army Bands the members give freely of their time and service. Their motivation of each member is the same - a desire to give back to God the talents he has provided. Deputy Bandmaster Evans, Major Williams and the Members of the Band would be delighted if you are able to share in our ministry. We want you to enjoy our music, to be inspired and entertained. But above all we pray that you will take Jesus Christ into your heart. That is the message we want you to hear when listening to the Chalk Farm Band of The Salvation Army.