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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.

Clacton-on-Sea Co-Operative Band

1948 marked the beginnings of The Clacton Town Silver Band with Conductor Captain Nimmo.

The first official photograph was taken in May 1949 on the steps of the Band Pavilion followed by a concert. During the year the Band fulfilled several engagements including a series of concerts, which were sponsored by the Council, including Fundraising concerts in the Brotherhood Hall and appearances at a number of Fetes and Clacton Carnival.

On 7th May 1949 the first Band Festival was run in the Band Pavilion, Clacton attracting entries from thirteen bands from all over the London and Home Counties Area, with the Clacton Band being placed a very creditable 4th.

In June 1949 the Band acquired its first female member when Ann Whitehead (now Headworth and Band Secretary), aged 8 years, having persuaded her Father to teach her to play the cornet, was deemed proficient enough to become a playing member.

In 1950 a new conductor Mr. Ernest Hall was appointed who continued in that capacity until 1963 when he was forced to retire due to ill health. In the hope of encouraging young people to take an interest, a Learners Class was introduced and this was eventually to prove most beneficial in future years.

By 1951 the Band felt confident enough to enter the formidable Area Contest for the National Brass Band Championships of Gt. Britain, at Central Hall Westminster achieving 7th place in the Fourth Section with an entry of 25 bands. The Band went on to win the Fourth Section in 1955 and promotion to the Third Section.

In 1960 the name of the Band was changed to "The Clacton-on-Sea Band'. In addition to the usual engagements considerable success was achieved in contests, with 2nd place in the Third Section at Romford and a similar placing in the "Championship of Essex". 1962 again saw a number of contest successes, 2nd again at Romford, 1st in the Championship of Essex, and 1st at Southend.

Here Eric Stewart must be mentioned who over a number of years worked his magic, with the help from other members of the Band, with the juniors of the Band and his learner's class. The fruits of his work produced many fine players, several of whom still play with the Band to this day.

1963 Ernest Hall was succeeded by Solo Euphonium player David Cawdell, who continued to build and improve the standard of playing, enjoyed the increasing number of young players now joining the Band from the Learners Class.

Following the resignation in 1966 of David Cawdell, owing to the pressure of work, Eric Stewart acted as Deputy Conductor.

Jim EwelI was appointed in 1967 in response to an advertisement for a new Conductor. His arrival coincided with a busy and successful year, with the contribution of the younger members having a noticeable effect. At various contests, including solo and quartet, a total of 33 prizes were won, with Martin Davey on Tenor horn securing the "Under 14" soloists Championship. Four members were accepted into the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain - Martin Davey, Murray Booker, Barry Aldous and Jacky Davey. They were joined in 1967 by Lynne Whitehead and Moira Loder, giving Clacton Band the distinction of being the only band in the country at that time, to provide six members in any one year.

Another innovation was the staging of our own official Band Contest in the Clacton Town Hall, a popular event which was to continue for several years.

In 1968 Mr. Cyril Suckling, the Musical Director of the Newham Band was invited to conduct a series of rehearsals, as a result of which the Band secured first place at both Watford and Hammersmith Contests and second place at home in the Clacton Contest. The younger elements also were successful in several Solo and Quartet contests. Other items of note during the year included a Massed Bands concert with the Luton Band, and the decision to accept the offer of a loan from Tendring District Council in order to purchase a complete set of Instruments, at a cost of 2,600.00.

At the end of the season, Jim EwelI resigned as Bandmaster but elected to remain as a playing member.

The Deputy Conductor Eric Stewart was appointed Bandmaster and continued in that capacity until 1976. In 1972 the Band won the Area Qualifying Contest at Watford and were promoted to the Second Section in the National Brass Band Championship.

1974 also proved a busy year, the Band now having a total of 29 playing members, of which no less than 16 of the younger element were also members of the London and Home Counties Youth Band under its Conductor Robert Howard.

In 1976 Stephen Howard joined the Band as Principal Comet. Already a brilliant musician, and having served as Principal Cornet in the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, Stephen was rapidly developing into becoming one of the leading comet players in the country, and his arrival was a great boost to the morale of the Band. His Father Robert who was appointed Musical Director of the Band following the retirement of Eric Stewart joined him later in the year.


Robert Howard was appointed Musical Director in 1976. The Band was now into its most successful period to date, as in addition to 24 concert engagements, achievements in contesting resulted in 18 prizes in Solo and Quartet contests, 4th place at the Area Contest and highest placed Essex Band and first prizes at Clacton and Watford Contests ensured upgrading to the Championship Section within the London and Home Counties Brass Bands Association grading. Entry to the Area Contest in March resulted in the winning of first prize in the Second Section and an entry to the National Finals in London in October. A first entry to Pontins Contest at Hemsby in the spring resulted in third prize with a similar result in the Finals at Prestatyn later in the year.

The Solo and Quartet parties secured no less than 40 prizes with Stephen Howard retaining the London and Home Counties Solo Championship. The success of that year was climaxed by the result of the entry in the National Finals in London when playing Scena Sinfonica by Henry Gheel the Band won the title of Second Section Champion Band of Gt. Britain, thus achieving promotion to the Championship Section where it remains to the present day.

1978 - 1987

Practice Facilities

Probably the most beneficial and exciting development was acquiring sponsorship by the Colchester and East Essex Co-operative Society Ltd., who also provided space in their coal yard in Oxford Road which enabled the Band to have its "own home" for the first time.

This was in the form of Rushden Temperance Band's old Bandroom, collected from Northamptonshire on a Co-op Coal Lorry and Headworth and Whitehead's truck and re-built in the Coal yard.

On the 2nd May 1978 the Band assumed the title of: - -"THE CLACTON-ON-SEA CO-OPERATIVE BAND ", a name which subsequently has become well known in Brass Band circles throughout the country and also on the Continent, resulting in a great deal of publicity for both the Co-op and Clacton-on-Sea generally.

During the year the Band recorded four broadcasts for B.B.C. Radio, two being the popular weekly series "Friday Night is Music Night", one for "Bandstand" and one for "Among Your Souvenirs. The Band also produced its first record, which went on sale at all concerts and other engagements. Another highlight of the year was a visit in September to Clacton's twin town of Valence.

During the ensuing four or five years events an average of 24 engagements a year were performed many more broadcasts for the B.B.C.

In 1980 Stephen Howard was appointed Deputy Conductor affording valuable assistance to his Father. It was also decided in this year that a trophy dedicated to the memory of long time supporter Jean Gordon would be awarded to the person, who in the opinion of the Musical Director was to be 'The Bandsman of the Year", and this is awarded at the Annual Dinner and Dance each year, the first recipient being Eb Bass player, Francis Burch.

The Band also purchased its own coach, promptly nicknamed "Jeremiah", thereby reducing the cost of travel. It was also used for a number of social outings to great advantage.

In 1981 the Band was again involved in overseas travel, visiting the Dutch town of Winschoten as guests of the local band. Clacton Businessman Derk De Voogd, a native of Winschoten, arranged the tour. The visit was a great success and was the beginning of a bond of friendship between the two bands, resulting in a continuing series of visits to Holland by the Clacton Band and welcome return visits to Clacton by the Dutch musicians.

1982 Bob Howard moves to Clacton. It was again a very busy year resulting in winning the title of London and Southern Counties Area Champions in the Regional Qualifying Contest thereby Qualifying for a place in the National Brass Band Championship Finals of Great Britain, at the Royal Albert Hall in October. This of course is the peak of ambition for any band and in addition to intensive rehearsals, and arousing much local interest also required additional fund raising to cover costs.

The other outstanding event of 1982 was an appearance in the B.B.C. television series "Best of Brass" which resulted in Stephen Howard being awarded second place as Best Soloist of the series. A further publicity boost was an appearance on B.B.C. Television's programme "Look East".

Further successes followed in 1983 in the Contesting fields. Three B.B.C. Broadcasts and 20 engagements also continued the need for constant rehearsals to maintain the high standard of playing.

At the end of the year thanks to the generosity of the Co-op the Band were given a new larger Bandroom, still in use to this day, at the Co-op Dairy in Telford Road. This event was celebrated with a most enjoyable New Years Party.

1984 promised to be another busy year with 20 engagements including a massed band concert with Haverhill Band at Haverhill and the Band was looking forward to participating in a massed bands concert with the G.U.S. Band at the Princes Theatre Clacton on the 26th August. Stephen Howard who had long enjoyed a close relationship with G.U.S. often acting as their guest Principal Comet player had arranged the event. Although the concert was a great success, sadly, Stephen was not to see the result of his plans, as a few days prior to the concert he was admitted to hospital seriously ill, and died on Monday 27th August. This tragic blow not only devastated his family, many of whom are associated with the Band, but the loss of such a talented musician was keenly felt by members of both bands. Members of G.U.S. travelled to Clacton to join with the Clacton Band to pay a most moving last tribute by playing at the funeral service.

Subsequently, the Musical Director of the G.U.S. Band, Dr. Keith Wilkinson composed a special arrangement of the Hymn Tune "Blaenwern" which he presented to the Band dedicated to Stephen's memory. It has become a tradition for this to be included in the programme at the annual Stephen Howard Memorial Concert, an event that has to date raised thousands of pounds for cancer related charities.

It is appropriate at this point to mention Phillip Skuse, who in these difficult circumstances occupied the vacant Principal Comet position, and discreetly, but very capably contributed to restoring the confidence of the Band.

The Stephen Howard Memorial Shield is now presented to the Player of the Year at the Annual Dinner and Dance as is the previously mentioned trophy awarded to "Bandsman of the Year". Phillip was the first recipient of this Shield.

After completing the remainder of the summer concerts the outstanding event of 1984 was the first Stephen Howard Memorial Concert in the Town Hall on the 18th November before a large audience and included tributes from leading figures in the Brass Band Movement and featured Trevor Groom of the G.U.S. Band as a guest euphonium soloist.

A trip to Hungary was planned for1986 as guests of the Hungarian Co-operative Movement. To meet the cost of the visit, a number of fund raising activities were planned. One innovation which was to prove exceptionally popular was the introduction of a Beer and Wine Evening of similar nature to the German functions. Held in the Town Hall, creating a party atmosphere with guests at individual tables, and the Band seated on the floor of the Flail providing music for dancing and singing. These evenings have become very popular and a full house is virtually guaranteed on each occasion that these are held.

In 1987 the Band were once again on their travels to Hook of Holland and on to Rotterdam where they were guests of the Rotterdam Police Band. The summer season included two concerts at Felixstowe Spa Pavilion, and one broadcast on "Listen to the Band" for the B.B.C., whilst contest activities resulted in a 2nd place at Pontins Area Contest qualifying for entry to the finals at Prestatyn. Phillip Skuse won the Stephen Howard Memorial Trophy for outstanding comet player at the Area Qualifying Contest of the National Brass Band Championships.

1988 was the year that the Band celebrated its 40th Anniversary. The Band again visited Winschoten in Holland and in September an ensemble visited our Twin Town of Valence to assist in the usual twinning celebrations. A total of 47 engagements during the next two years and there was also a welcome return visit by the Winschoten Band when our visitors again gave a series of successful concerts.

Successes also came in the Contesting activities, with three second places, one third, one fourth and an invitation to the Qualifying Contest for the British Open Brass Band Championship in Manchester, where the Band secured a well earned ninth place among 25 competing Bands.

There were a number of events worthy of a note in 1991, including the purchase of new uniforms, the fifth set in our history ; a visit to Winschoten to join in the celebration of the Dutch Towns 600th Anniversary ; Bob Howard completed 50 years of brass banding and this event was marked by a celebration party and a special concert in the Town Hall when the Clacton Band was joined by many guest players who had contributed to Bobs banding career.

Another event of importance was the decision to form a Youth Band. As a result of a great deal of hard work particularly by Janet Young assisted by Andy lull, and a number of the members of the Senior Band, this project is achieving an encouraging degree of success. The Youth Band making occasional appearances at concerts in conjunction with the Senior Band, and pursuing its own engagements within the sphere of its capabilities.

In 1982 the Band appointed Dr Keith Wilkinson as its Professional Conductor and enjoyed this association until 1996 when he left the country to take up a post abroad.

The visit to Clacton's twin town of Biberach in Germany in August 1992 was an outstanding success.

A first appearance at the Southern Counties Entertainment Contest in Crawley in May, when Dr. Keith Wilkinson conducted the Band, resulted in a first prize - four points clear of the second placed band. The Band also arranged a visit to Valence in 1993 in conjunction with the 25th Anniversary twinning celebrations.

In October 1993 Bob Howard resigned from his position as Musical Director

Mark Ager was appointed as Musical Director and was ably assisted by Antony Sanders as his deputy, both totally committed to the prospect of continuing the successful career of the Band.

Throughout the period the Band was also regularly entering the various contests throughout the Area, with varying degrees of success, and still striving towards the difficult goal of first place in the Area Championships.

Clacton Band, in common with other bands of similar composition, face a formidable handicap not normally experienced by the majority of the top bands, who are mainly located in the Midlands and the North. They have their origins in the colliery, shipbuilding and heavy engineering industries of the early part of the century, who following colliery closures etc., have found sponsorship with National and International companies, thus enabling many of them to offer lucrative monetary retainers and engagement fees to their members. Here in Clacton the members have many different occupations which at times prevents them attending both rehearsals or engagements, with only basic travelling expenses paid to those who live outside Clacton. It is a credit to all concerned that their dedication and commitment enables the Band to maintain its current high standards, and one of the most stable memberships in the South of England.

1995-1996 were notable by a visit to Winschoten. A Massed Band concert with the renowned, but now extinct, Sun Life Band from Bristol, a concert with Guest Artist Peter Skellern and a concert with the renowned trombonist Don Lusher.

1997, the concluding year of the decade proved as eventful as any of the preceding years. The launch of the eagerly awaited C.D. The Nieuw Leven Concert Band from Winschoten, accompanied by their associated Mallet Band, a total of 110 guests were welcomed to Clacton. A Concert with Guest Artist Vince Hill, another with the Clacton Operatic Society and a combined concert with the Essex Police Band all contributed to a highly successful season, which also included a first appearance at the Clacton Air Show.

Contest activities also produced encouraging results including 2nd place at the Harrow Contest, and for the second year running 4th place at the Area Contest. Considerable benefit was derived from a weekend visit by five members of the renowned Black Dyke Mills Band, who in a series of sectional rehearsals were able to advise their opposite numbers in coping with the technical demands of the set Area Test Piece "A Lowery Sketchbook". Steven Drury a former member of Clacton Band and now playing Flugel at Black Dyke brought about the association with Black Dyke.

1998 Our Golden Jubilee Year began with a very successful Dinner and Dance. The band were placed 3rd at the Regional Qualifying Contest with that coveted appearance at the Royal Albert Hall just eluding us again by a narrow margin, but the result put the Band firmly at the top of the grading table in 3rd position thus ensuring their Championship Status for the foreseeable future.

In 1999 Melvin White was appointed the new Musical Director after Mark Ager resigned earlier on in the year due to family commitments. Year 2000 saw another successful trip to Winschoten and regular summer season concerts continue in the Clacton Town Hall.

The band is always striving to maintain Championship Status and undoubtedly the crowning achievement would be the sight at the Royal Albert Hall on an October day in the not too distant future.