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The band was founded in 1919 by men who had just returned from the First World War as the Comrades of the Great War Band. Most of the instruments had been borrowed from the regiments these men had served with. In 1922 the band was renamed the Cirencester Silver Band and a set of silver plated instruments was purchased. Members of the players families were invited to join the band and received tuition on various instruments. This family tradition still continues today.
Prior to 1919 there had been other bands in Cirencester. Notably the Midland Railway Band and the Methodist Church Band. Some players from these bands joined the Cirencester Silver Band. Just after the Great War the band was involved with helping to raise funds for the Memorial Hospital under its President, Earl Bathhurst.
During the Second World War the Band's instruments were put into store as most of the players went to join the war effort. There is a tale that the band's secretary burnt all of the band's records as a precaution in case of invasion. 1947 saw the reformation of the band, as once again members returned from the services. The band asked prominent members of the town's business community to act as it's Trustees. Jim Loveday of Loveday & Loveday and Fred Hope who owned the foundry in Watermoor were the first two.
To mark the 50th Anniversary a new set of instruments was purchased in 1969 at a cost of £3,000. Compare this to today's price of over £30,000. The money was raised by concerts and all sorts of fund raising events organised by The Ladies' Committee and later by a Supporters' Association. In previous years the Cirencester Silver Band was a very strong contesting band. In the prewar years they took part in contests at the Crystal Palace. The early seventies saw success in the regional finals at Bristol on two occasions with consequent visits to the Fourth Section Championships in London. At present the band concentrates on concert work.
Since 1972 the band has been called The Cirencester Band in an attempt at modernisation. However, the band is still called "The Silver Band" or "The Town Band" by its supporters. Since 1978 the band has been twinned with a German Band, the Oelixdorfer Musikzug from Oelixdorf near Itzehoe, Hamburg in the north of Germany and this has resulted in many interesting and exciting visits by both bands. At the 75th Anniversary in 1994 about 120 past and present band members gathered in the Corn Hall for a buffet meal and a lot of chat over old times.
Cirencester Band from 1919-1929 by Cecil Reynolds
By kind permission of the Editor of the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard, who has given me permission to go through the files for the past 50 years, together with my own memory of some of the outstanding events that took place in that time. I endeavour to give you some of the past history of the band over that period. Before I commence with the history, I would like to mention the more charitable side of the band to help others. During its 50 years (1919 to 1969) the band in numerous ways has helped to raise thousands of pounds to various local organisations, just to mention a few. Before the Hospital became state controlled, one near village held a Hospital Sunday afternoon and evening, and with the help of the band over a great number of years the donations to the hospital exceeding £1,000. At another near village for a great number of years we played for an open service followed by a concert, collections for Christian Aid. Open day at Watermoor Hospital, British Legion parades, Royal Air Force Association Youth parades and numerous other events, some times of course with a small donation to the band funds.
In 1919 following the 1914-1918 war an association was formed in Cirencester at a meeting held on February 5th 1919. The name given was the Comrades of the Great War. The late Mr. Harold Smith being elected Secretary. Shortly after bandsmen returning from the services and joining the association got together and a band was formed under the late Mr. S Stevens, practice taking place at the Temperance Hall, Thomas Street. There followed the following advert in the Wilts and Glos Standard.
Comrades of the Great War Cirencester Branch Band. There are a few vacancies in this band will any comrade willing to join please apply to the Bandmaster at the Temperance Hall any Monday or Thursday between 7pm and 9pm. There is no entrance fee and no subscription to the band fund. Instruments and Music without charge, After this there were several lads keen to join the band including myself so we were accepted as honorary members.
The great day came on Sunday November 9th 1919 when the band made its first public appearance at the Armistice Parade. Just a point of interest to some of the members of the old comrades still enjoying life. Over 250 members were on parade, 3 platoons under E Ferris, Sarge H Tenty, Sergeant Major W. H. Hayday, and Sergeant Major E Hicks in charge.
The bands next appearance was at Christmas when they made the first tour of the Town and the hospitals. I should like to mention on numerous occasions, I have been told this was the only time the people of Cirencester hear or see the band. My answer to that is for these people to visit the concerts and shows that we play at through the year.
With the arrival of 1920 was to see the band in its first uniform not new but quite a familiar Khaki to the old comrades with a modification of blue facings. From the Wilts & Glos Standard
On Sunday Feb 1st 1920 a parade assembled at the Barracks and headed by the Comrades Band which under the leadership of Bandmaster S Stevens showing continuous marked improvement the parade marched to the Parish Church, after the service two military distinctions were presented by Colonel Earl Bathurst CMG, the first to Private C Pool 17th Bat Royal Sussex who was awarded the Military Medal and the 2nd to E Ferris Gloucestershire Reg who received the MSM.
By the 24th the band gave two concerts at a Fete at Chesterton House, July at a Fete in the Abbey Grounds for the YMCA, Barnsley Park Fete in August and on several Saturday in the Market Place. (September) From the W&G
Under the auspices of the Comrades Band a sacred concert was given at the Picture House. The theatre was filled to overflowing, the well arranged programme contained Instrumental selections by Mr Chiltons Orchestral party. Mr. W J Tolley was recalled for each of his vocal solos. Miss H Sock "Beyond the Dawn" and "Light of Heaven Own way", Mar S Coke executed a Trombone solo "The Lost Lord". And the bands selections were deservedly applauded. These included March "Cuirassier" Selection "Sabbath Chimes", and the March "Old Comrade",
Sept 18th for a dance at the Corn Hall 8 till 11-30pm.
Sept 22nd for a dance at the Corn Hall 8 till 11-30pm.
Sept 26th a Concert at the Corn Hall under Mr Bert Dunne
November. Armistice Parade and Nov 11th a dance at the Corn Hall. The band and an Orchestra taking part, finishing the year with the Christmas playing by this time there was a good membership in the band on some nights 2 bands were playing.
The year 1921 was very quiet to start, with rehearsal being the main interest. In April permission was obtained from the Chief Constable of Glos to play in the Market Place Saturday nights. On Whit Monday May 16th 1921 the Band played at a Fete at Chesterton House, this being the last time in the name of the Comrades Band. Mr Bert Dunne being Bandmaster, Mr. S Stevens his deputy and Mr. Spregg? Secretary. The band beginning a new fund for instruments to help bring in the funds, from June 10th 1921 a weekly dance was held in a field near the Bull Ring permission of the late T Chilhams?, this was a great success and the funds began to swell, and with a loan from a gentleman, the bands first silver instruments were on show in Messrs Lennards? Ltd in Cricklade Street for one week ending Saturday June 25th 1921. During July and August quite a number of Fetes engaging the band including one at Prestbury, and again doing the rounds at Christmas.
The commencement of 1922 for the band was a Sacred Concert in the Corn Hall on Sunday march 4th, The first number being Hymn "For all the Saints", March "First Parade", Fantasia "Dawn of Spring", Cornet solo by Mr Bert Staney "Lead Kindly Light", "Classic Gems", euphonium solo by Mr S Cooke "Land of Hope and Glory", "Gems of Harmony", and Hymn tune "Rockingham". On April 22nd 1922 the band had its first experience of contesting playing "Gems of Harmony" at Swindon other bands taking part were Fairford (3rd), Fishponds Agyle (1st), Kingswood Town, Wroughton, Didcot and Northboarne. Cirencester gaining 2nd Prize On August 10th the band played at the Cirencester Polo Club Tournament playing for musical chairs in which the Prince of Wales took part and won. For the first time the band took part in the Cirencester Carnival one of the only time two local bands taking part the other being the Cirencester Town Band. From the W&G Standard:
The route was indicated by the chairman and secretary who drove in a waggonette which it has been Mr Harry Reynolds [Cecil Reynolds Father] pleasure for some years to furnish for this purpose A striking figure marched before the Cirencester Silver Band in the capacity of Drum Major Mr J Nash of Swindon starting from Stratton end of Gloucester, through to Thomas Street, Park Street, Black jack Street, Cricklade Street, Watermoor Road, The Avenue, Chester Street, Victoria Road, Church Street, Watermoor Road, Queen Street, Victoria Road, Dyer Street, Market Place, Castle Street, Sheep Street, Ashcroft Road, Ashcroft Gardens, Ashcroft Villas in to Sheep Street, Querns lane, Lewis Lane, Dyer Street, Market Place, Dollar Street in to the Abbey Grounds. I may add that refreshments were taken en route by the two bands, at the Queen Head and the Foresters Arms.
Several Fetes were attended during August - one at Kings Meadow, Barnsley Park and Siddington. At this stage I think I should give you the membership of the band
List of Band Members
Band Master Bert Dunn; Deputy Sid Stevens Drums F. Evans; S Stevens jnr, W Berry, A Farriman , J Mabbat, R Waite, A Harris, H Barker, P Parker, C Parker, S Cooke, W Spragg, F Stevens, J Fletcher, E Clark, L Stevens, C Reynolds, N Sherwood, J James, A Morris, L Sherwood, C Stevens, C Hale, B Stacey, W Paul, T. Gardener
On Easter Monday we took on a new venture playing at the Cirencester Town v. Victoria Football match which was to be the first of many. Then came a day I shall never forget June 5th 1923. This was the day King George V and Queen Mary came for the official opening of the R.A.C. after being closed during the war, it rained all day. I can remember the tune as the King and Queen passed us in the Tetbury Road "Charley is my darling". It think it was of the selection "Recollections of Wales", we were wet through, the old khaki uniform took a pelting that day.
In June we were again on the weekly dance at Chesterton for the instrument funds. Rather perhaps strange in those days you never seem to worry about marching or walking a long way for instance on the 14th of June we were playing at the Spring Tournament of the Cirencester Polo Club that meant walking and carrying our instruments up through the park. I have said before the long Carnival March on July 28th 1923 we fell in with a Fancy Dress Procession at Bridge Road then as we knew it as Gas House Lane went up Watermoor Road, Cricklade Street, Market Place, Dyer Street, Victoria Road, Queen Street, Watermoor Road, on to Siddington to Chiery? grounds by kind permission of Mr Butt for a Fete and Flower Show.
On July 24th we were engaged at Cripps Mead the first of many. The most successful open air dance to date was held on the Abbey Grounds in July when the instrument fund was greatly added to. More Fetes were attended this year than before, again at Prestbury, Sapperton, Barnsley Park, Kemble, Charltons Kings, Bourton on the Water and Stratton. In November with Church parades at Cirencester and Kemble, ending the year with Christmas playing.
Mr Jack Mabbut Secretary at this time. Football match as usual, the Bandmaster now was MR S Stevens. Mr Bert Dunne having left together with Mr S Cooke both left to Coventry City Band and Mr W Paul to Morris Motors. Mr Spragg the secretary left the town. The band played at Kemble Branch (British Legion) show and sports at Somerford Keynes on Whit Monday. Hatherop Castle July 18th, Siddington House Grounds July 30th. For the first time the carnival was held on August Bank Holiday. Both Cirencester Bands attending the other being the Town Military Band. Fetes at Duntisbourne, Cerney Wick, Barnsley Park, North Cerney and Bourton on the Water. A vocal and instrumental concert took place at the Bingham Hall on Oct 15th . The usual parades in November and Christmas rounds.
Just long this time transport was real experience. Motor Coaches being far different from today. for several years we had a Model T Ford Tonner? belonging to the late Don Cole? when full with the bandsmen and instruments and you came to a hill like Fosse Bridge and the hill out of Bourton the young like myself had to jump out until we came to the top of the hill. During the summer months several members were playing at the Methodist Camp meeting.
In 1926 the band had a very changing time, there was first the Mr J Mabbat leaving for Swindon, the late Mr Jack Keen being elected secretary in his place. On Easter Monday Fossetts (???) Circus arrived at Bristols field in Siddington Road minus their band with the exception of the Bandmaster and I remember a meeting with Mr S Stevens, his three sons and I think now about five more of us we played for two shows this was very unique experience. I may say that its hard work for a short time apparently their band had broken up at Swindon.
On Whit Monday we were at a sports and Fete at Kings Meadow, Shortly after this there was more changes . We lost Mr Stevens and his sons. The late Mr G Churchman being elected Bandmaster first conducting the band at Kemble Hospital Sunday July 4th 1926. I should like to make a remark regarding these events these Sunday at Kemble consisting of playing hymns round the village in the afternoon collecting en route, a service in the Park in the evening followed by a Band Concert. I think this was carried on for about 10 or 12 year during that time the Kemble committee had the pleasure of handing over to the hospital fund over £1,000. Several more Fetes were attended and a few more members came along that year closing the most changeable year with the Christmas rounds.
On March 30th 1927 we again had a new experience, we were at practice in the Barracks when the RSM of the 5th Glos R came in, the evening before, owing to the Battalion Band not being available could we play for a Military Funeral the next day. The music came along well at practice we went through it a few times and the next day slow marched from the Hospital to the Cemetery. I may say other than a break in to quick march up the Tetbury Road Hill to the Kennel doors it was slow all the way, believe me that seems a very long way when you are slow-marching carrying a BBflat bass. This was to be year with another sort of experience as you will see later, but let me get a bit more cheerful (???????) In June we were engaged for a Fete at Williamstrip? Park weeks before we had all been measured for new uniforms. They arrived on the Wednesday before going to Williamstrip? Park the net day, a quick delivery round the members and we turned out next day in new dark blue uniform with pale blue and silver facings, There was something else to come in the middle of a selection in the afternoon there was a Thunder storm and we had to run for cover.
In the years before state control many villages had their own local benefit societies and around Whitsun had what they called there club (Fetes ?) On Whit Sunday 1927 we were engaged for one of these at Great Barrington. Commencement of this was a Church Parade in the morning returning to a lunch that nearly shook you to the core to see it side of beef, ham, pickels ?) of all sorts, barrels of beer up one side of the room, and I might add here the band was looked after before any of the members were allowed to start after this was over there were a few words by the chairman, the meeting then broke up the band made a tour of the village, played at one or two of the large houses, then return to the sports field and Fete, and to end up the evening with a dance.
Coming home on this occasion we had a strange thing happen coming down the hill out of Barrington a wheel went flying past us when we arrived at the bottom of the hill. There was a sudden drop one side and to our surprise the wheel was off our Coach which was the Ford model T, we stayed around the Fox Inn until about 2 o'clock inn the morning but it had been a good day and every one was quite happy. Several more Fetes including the carnival were attended and the Remembrance Parades at Cirencester and Kemble then coming to the Christmas playing, if you can remember Christmas 1927 it started snowing on Christmas Day all through the night. We tuned up in the Market Place on Boxing Day morning for the usual meeting of the Hunt which of course did not take place.
Mr Churchman the bandmaster was faced with a problem. The band had promised to play at a Children's party at Somerford, there was so much snow there was not any transport could take us there, so he what are we going to do, after talk for a few minutes I believe it was nine of us we decided to walk. We arrived a bit too soon for the party so woke the village up with much surprise after a few samples of old made wine we carried out our commitment. When we made the start back on reaching the Wen turn it was proposed that we go back Kemble way and get a train from there away we sent a few more carols in Even on to Kemble when we found another Children's party going on.
Extract from W&G: A pleasant surprise was a visit of members of the Cirencester Silver Band who played a find selection of carols and after for some dance music. After this party we played for a few more carols in the village and made the way back by the last train. After a clean up a dance in the Corn Hall the end to a good year of banding.
On Whit Monday we were playing at Athletic? Sports in the Abbey and for dancing in the evening. We were missing the Fete at Barrington for this event. For the first time we took part in the contest at Fairford of which we won 1st prize for marching and deportment and 3rd for the selection which was "Recollections of Verdi". During the summer play a Bourton on the Water, Barnsley Park, Kemble, Saperton, Winchcombe, Ampney, Siddington and for the carnival. We had the first outing of the band in September to Crystal Palace finishing at Christmas and Boxing day meet in the Market Place.
1929 was much the same as 28, nearly all the same engagements the difference was we returned to the Club Fete Barrington, where we had another strange happening on touring the village in the afternoon we were on the grounds of a retired colonel in front of the house with a balustrade at the back of us we were playing the March "Sons of the Brave" when there was a noise behind us and a Donkey appeared with his head between the euphonium and baritone players still with his lungs opening full, its the only time I have been playing when the band has completely broken down.
Winchcombe and Charlton Kings show were attended. Fairford?, Carnival Contest was again entered this time playing "The Spirit of Youth" Mr A Harries received a medal for the best euphonium and the band shared 4th place with Blethington Silver. This year we for the first time played at three Armistice Parades. Cirencester, Oaksey the Sunday before Nov 11th and at Naughton the following Sunday The Christmas playing and Boxing day meeting of the hounds finished the year.