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.
Clevedon Brass Band started life in the 1870s as the 5th Glos Royal Artillery Band, and records show that it entered a competition in Windsor Park in 1881 and played to commemorate the jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. Under the baton of Mr Fred Ware, it transformed into the Clevedon Silver Band in 1905 and 'became second to none for its size in the North Somerset area. It played several times at the Crystal Palace with distinction' (from Gilbert Ware's letter to the Clevedon Mercury in 1934).
Between the two world wars the band was as much a part of the Clevedon scene as its famous Victorian bandstand. A programme that has survived from 1931 shows Clevedon Silver Band under the baton of Mr F Mogg, giving daily performances on the Green Beach Bandstand from 7 to 9.30 pm each evening, and on Saturdays from 6.30 to 9.30 pm. Programme pic Looking at the pieces played, certainly two of them, 'Punchinello' and 'Tancredi', would not be out of place on a modern programme. It seems remarkable in today's world of PS2s, digital TV, home computers and other calls on our time that the full band was able to muster every single night of the week!
The band continued to thrive right up to the outbreak of war in 1939, when a number of the band were called up – active service for some, home guard duties for others – and at that point the band folded. Gone but not forgotten.
Rebuilding the band
After the war, several attempts to rekindle the band were thwarted by lack of premises and the funds to pay the rent. It was not until 1964 when the deputy head of Clevedon Secondary School, Ron Tripp, started the Clevedon Youth Band which was to prove to be the catalyst for the re-emergence of a community band in Clevedon. Although Ron is very ill, he is still president of the band today.
With just a handful of young players Ron dug out what was left of the old Silver Band instruments, some loaned to Portishead Town Band further up the coast, others lovingly stored away in cupboards and lofts, and began weekly practices at the school.
Playing standards increased steadily and before long the group were making a name for themselves at local venues.
Frances (Dilly) Taylor was, at the age of 12, one of the inaugural members of the revitalised band. She graduated to the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester to become principal trumpet player for the now defunct BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra. On her return to Clevedon she became the band's musical director from 1979 to 1989. She says of the early days of the Clevedon Youth Band: "Anybody who showed the remotest interest was drafted in by Ron. He was a terrific inspiration and although we weren't very good to begin with things could only get better".
A brand new name
In 1984, with more adults than youths, the band changed its name to Clevedon Brass Band, undertaking three performance trips to Clevedon's twin town of Ettlingen which brought the band's music to a wider audience.
Generous sponsorship was forthcoming from Clerical Medical, who established their headquarters in Clevedon, which helped buy new instruments for the band and refit them with their distinctive blue blazers and stand banners.
Dilly handed over the baton to Ron's son Steve Tripp in 1989 who led the band throughout the 90s and resigned in 2000 to concentrate on his own playing. During his tenure Steve added many new pieces to the library and attracted many new players.
But like many small-town institutions the story of Clevedon Brass Band is a continuing tale of struggle and survival, of good times and bad, of fury and fun. At one AGM in the late 1990s there was an almighty falling out and several members of the band left to form what is now Congresbury Brass. In 2000 the committee approached the present musical director Steve Howard and invited him to take charge of the band.
His background was from a similar school music foundation but in Bolton, Lancashire. He was principal horn with Markham Main Colliery and Musical Director of the Riyadh Concert Band in Saudi Arabia, where he met his wife Liz, then a French horn player. He insists on very high standards of performance, concentrating on good note production, balance, intonation and tuning. One of the first engagements of his tenure was the dedication of the Millennium Monument on the seafront at Clevedon.
The job of rescuing an ailing band proved impossible and more players left leaving just a handful of dedicated musicians. In September 2003, the decision was made to convert to a 10 piece versatile brass ensemble and the music tailored accordingly. Everyone was astounded at the new sound, no gaps in the harmony, no parts missing. Ever since it has been very much a case as business as usual, with the standard of playing getting better and better, more prestigious venues to perform at and a regular income stream of subscriptions and concert fees. Everyone agrees things haven't been this good for a long time.
In December 2004 we purchased winter fleeces, in the distinctive Clevedon blue, for those chilly outdoor performances. The band is about to mothball the blazers in favour of casual dress shirts for indoor performances. More updating has taken place in the sale of old instruments for new replacements, the full range of mutes for the cornets, flugel and trombones. More evidence that Clevedon Brass Band is firmly in the 21st century is this web-site.
We are back up to full strength, and we are attracting experienced and competent players who've had enough of contesting and just want to play for fun in a friendly atmosphere.
2008 was a very eventful year for the band, several of our members left due to school/work and family commitments including Elizabeth and Leo Howard, Cara and Neil Dimery, and James. Katie Howard is still a member but is off at university at the present time but joins us when she is back home.
Mike Justice moved up from Watchet to Weston Super Mare and joined us on Euphonium and we welcome back Lyndon our 1st Cornet player who left us 18months ago due to family and work commitments.
In July 2008 the band proudly took possession of their new uniforms black trousers and shirts and silver and blue waistcoats. Photos of our first public appearance can be seen on our web site on the home page and also in the pictures section.
In the summer Steve Howard left the band and we were very pleased in September to welcome Pete Boyles as our new Musical Director. Pete has played with many of the top band in Bristol Kingwoods and Thornbury and currently City of Bristol.
Pete has brought a welcome fresh approach to our band practices and is passing on some of his vast experience.
In October we were very pleased to welcome back Elizabeth and Leo Howard. Elizabeth bravely took over the Flugel Horn and Leo joined the cornet section.
Early in 2009 Mike Justice our Euphonium player left the band, Mike is both a fantastic bandsman/friend and player and we missed him a great deal. We were however very fortunate to recruit Louise Wall as our Euphonium player and she has been a great asset to the band, bringing with her a wealth of brass playing experience.
In October 2010 our new web site went live and we are all very excited about this. This will enable us to keep all our friends in banding up to date with what the band is doing, and also show to the banding world that Clevedon Brass is a thriving Brass Ensemble. This has been designed for us by Ilona bridges, at ilona ink design studio. Ilona is an experienced website and graphic designer offering creative but affordable design.
We performed many concerts in the regions bandstands throughout the summer, adding Shepton Mallet to the year's list of venues.
Christmas time we played at many supermarkets and a new venue that year was Garden World at Burnham who made us very welcome.
In 2010 the band has continued to flourish. Yatton Music Festival were delighted to have the band to play for their final concert in April, and the band played for the first time at Victoria Park in Bath.