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Crystal Palace Band
Crystal Palace Band was founded by the Upper Norwood Temperance Society and held its first rehearsal on 31st January 1901.
The band was first called the Upper Norwood Temperance Prize Band and lived up to its name in its first year by securing prizes at all three contests it entered. Over time it became closely linked with the Crystal Palace and played there for many years.
After the First World War, permission was granted in 1924 by the Crystal Palace Company to change the name to The Crystal Palace Band.
In 1936 the band's close association with the Crystal Palace Company came to an end when the Palace burned down. Until 1936 the National Brass Band Championships were held at the Crystal Palace with the band winning the Grand Shield (Second Section) twice in the 1920's.
The band reached a peak during the 1930's as a Championship Section Band under the baton of Dr Denis Wright, the well-known composer, arranger and conductor.
After the Second World War the band's fortunes gradually declined as membership dwindled.
At one time in the 1970's there were only a handful of players left. But the band kept going with the determined efforts of a few die-hards.
Today there are over 30 playing members in the main band with a thriving training band as well.
In 1996 the band received an extra boost after being awarded lottery funding from the Arts Council for England which together with its own funds enabled the purchase of a whole new set of band instruments
†CPB has performed at numerous venues over the years including Royal Parks, seaside bandstands, concert halls, carnivals, shows, BBC Radio and has even recorded a soundtrack for a film. The band has also made numerous successful trips to Europe including concerts in Belgium. Holland, Germany, France and Switzerland.
In the band's centenary year (2001) over £1,800 was raised for St Christopher's Hospice via two concerts at St John's Church, Penge and a Gala Centenary Concert at Ravensbourne School in Bromley. The Band has continued to support the Hospice for most of the years since and the total raised is now over £10,000.
For the future, the band is looking forward to improving musical performances, further contest successes and continued involvement with the local area. One particular aim will be to find and acquire a permanent rehearsal room for the band so that it can continue to provide musical entertainment.
In 1936 the band's close association with the Crystal Palace Company came to an end when the Crystal Palace burned down. Until 1936 the National Brass band Championships were held at the Crystal Palace with the band winning the Grand Shield (Second Section) Twice in the 1920's. The band reached a peak during the 1930's as a Championship Section Band under the baton of Dr Denis Wright, the well-known composer, arranger and conductor.
January - The Upper Norwood Temperance Prize Band is formed by the Upper Norwood Temperance Society Their president is C E Tritton, Esq MP and they have a distinguished list of VPs, (including Sir Francis Joseph Campbell, the Principal of the Royal Normal College and Academy of Music for the Blind). The bandmaster is W W Grant and the Professional Conductor, J Pemberton.
30th November - The Band come 3rd = , behind Gray's Temperance, in the London & Home Counties Crystal Palace contest. Fulham are up there in section 1; no sign of Croydon (yet!). According to the BB's 'X-Rays', the band have carried out a number of engagements during the year with the Crystal Palace company, and given "great satisfaction". They have also averaged five practices a fortnight - "a marked contrast to the usual experiences of London bands who have only one practice a week, and a poor one at that".!!
12th January - "X-Ray" from the British Bandsman records the Band's significant progress since foundation. The Band leads the procession of the men of H.M.S. Terrible in their triumphal march through London in 1902 at the close of the South African Boer War.
7th November - First prize in the Walthamstow Quartet Contest, under Mr Grant. According to the adjudicator, the euphonium failed to play his cadenza "as if he was very much in love with it".
30th August - Upper Norwood, now conducted by A Miller, give a "clean, tasty, rendering of The Slave" in a Crystal Palace contest promoted by the National Cooperative Festival. They are awarded 3rd prize. "Ikey Mo", BB's London reporter, has this to say of the Dunstable Excelsior (2nd) and New Barnet (4th) bands: they "each vied with the other in the perpetration of a most disgusting and lowering exhibition of unrestrained passion". That's contesting!
27th September - The CP contest. Mr Miller takes Upper Norwood, again playing The Slave, to a very creditable 3rd prize in their first National Finals Contest at the Crystal Palace.
26th September - Now in the 3rd section, the band return to their back yard for the 4th Nationals. This time they finish 14, well down the order with a measly 46 points: "general uncertainty reigns", writes the adjudicator, uncharitably.
7th October - 7,000 people turn out to see the band open a new bandstand in Grange Wood.
30th January - The BB's 'X-Rays' reports that the band has a double engagement at the Palace on 6 February; he raises his hat to their "magnificent balance sheet" of £439.00
4th June - X-rays is "truly sorry" to hear of the sudden death of the band's soprano player: "It is feared that it was from "over exertion"!!
25th June - X-rays reports that the band have just completed 10 days at the Palace.
29th September - In the Nationals, Luton Red Cross take on the North and Midlands for the One Thousand Guinea Trophy in the Concert Room. Meanwhile, over on the Grand Terrace, Upper Norwood are doing battle on Gems of Haydn for the Junior Cup; they are outside the prizes.
1st October - First Nationals win 25 for Foden's Motor Wagon Works on Gems of Schubert. Upper Norwood are again out of the prizes in the Junior Cup Section.
A tour through Belgium and France is undertaken, and a Diploma of Honour awarded the Band at the Brussels Exhibition.
16th July - The BB's Metropolis tells us that Upper Norwood, under Tom Morgan, are due to compete along with 34 others in a contest at the Earls Court Exhibition.
26th August - The band "put up a good show" in the London Association's Crystal Palace contest, according to the BB's Citizen. They are placed 2nd to Lewisham. In the Marching Contest, Caterham were doing all right until the comer flag was reached, and "the turning movement proved too much for the men".
9th December - 2nd place in the Edmonton Quartet Contest behind Hampstead, reports Citizen. Upper Norwood B "opened with much promise, but went to pieces halfway".
5th October - Nationals again. First Championship win for the famous St Hilda's, later to become the first music hall brass band. First showing, too, for Upper Norwood in The Grand Shield (2nd section), but the band are outside the prizes.
In September, 1914, the Band joined the local Volunteer Corps in a body, and ultimately gave twenty-nine of the membership of thirty- two at that date to the Regular Forces, over-age men being enlisted to enable the Band to continue its duties with the Home Defence Corps. During the period August 1914óMarch 1919 over 100 concerts were organised for wounded soldiers, almost every hospital within twenty-five miles of London being visited.
24th September - Upper Norwood win the Grand Shield on Dinorah on the National's 21st anniversary. From a draw of 17, they beat no less than 25 other bands from England and Wales. Croydon are nowhere! The adjudicator remarks on the band's "very superior performance", while the BB's Jack Straw reckons that "there will be big doings Norwood way when the Grand Shield is presented".
26th November - The band hold a "Coming of Age & Presentation Concert" celebrating the recent triumph and the Band's 21st birthday. Only three founder members remain, Messrs. W. W. Grant (Conductor), Alfred Grant (Solo Cornet), and Fred Grant (Solo Baritone).
23rd September - The band joins the big boys in the Nationals. Placed 8th (ahead of St Hilda's) in their first Championship section outing, the BB's London correspondent says that their playing of Hubert Bath's Freedom surprised him "muchly" in its "very good performance"; while one of the three adjudicators remarked on the band's "worthy performance".
29th September - Back at the Palace for the Nationals, on Henry Gheel's Oliver Cromwell. Upper Norwood are this time out of the prizes in the top section. But it's congratulations for the South, as Luton Red Cross, with Harry Mortimer on solo comet, take top honours - the first ever Championship success for a southern band.
1924 New year, new name.
19th April - The first full band contest of the season, at Lloyd Park, Walthamstow sees Crystal Palace beating the noted Callender's Cable Works Band.
20th May - Oh no! Palace beaten into 3rd place by Croydon Borough in the annual Hanwel! Contest. Mind you, the band did play last, outside, in steady rain! Callender's take top honours on this occasion.
22nd September - Crystal Palace Band take first place in the Grays Quartet Contest under the legendary Fred Mortimer.
27th September - It's Nationals time again and the BB reports W W Grant, CP's conductor, as saying that the band is in good form and working hard for success. No luck on the day, however, on Henry Gheel's On the Cornish Coast.
3rd May - Hanwell Contest again. CP are drawn one but, when the time comes for them to take the stage, they are nowhere to be found! When they finally appear, their rivals generously agree to them playing last but, despite a good performance of Huguenots, they again come third behind Callender's and Croydon.
24th September - Now in the second section in the Nationals, the band placed 11th on Life Divine. Croydon are 5th.
24th September - Nationals: CP 8th in the Grand Shield (second section) on the fearsome Epic Symphony). Croydon unplaced. An upturn in the band's fortunes?
1st June - Croydon again pipped in the Hanwell contest. CP second to St Pancras.
28th September- Glory in the Nationals! For the second time in their history, CP win the Grand Shield, this time on Zainora. The adjudicator remarks on an "outstanding performance" and the BB's London correspondent reports that the band's victory was "cheered most lustily"
27th September - A watershed in the band's history. Promoted to the Championship Section in the Nationals, the band gain an outstanding 4th place on Elgar's moving and contemplative Severn Suite.Beaten only by the great Foden's, Black Dyke and, another former winner, Irwell Springs, it is a magnificent performance, blemished only by an "untuneful" Minuet.
The band committee minutes of 30th November report;
"......the greatest success ever obtained by a London band, the winning of the 4th prize in the Championship section at the recent Crystal Palace Contest...."
A uniform supplier was selected for the band, overcoats are purchased, price £3-4s-6p (£3.22) each.
1931 - 1939
The thirties bring about a hectic period for CPB. They take part in Holiday Entertainments at the Palace and every Sunday during the summer the band is engaged by the LCC where, in the Royal Parks, they perform under the batons of Eric Ball, Frank Wright and Harry Mortimer. Fees for park engagements around this time were ten guineas (£10.05) for Grade A Bandstands and nine guineas for Grade B.
The band's 1933 summer outing is to Bognor. Lunch was provided, cost 2s-9p (13 pence).
The band minute book from 1935 reports the psssing of W W Grant and the appointment of W W Mann as 'Conductor'.
The band continue to give regular performances at the Crystal Palace until it is burned down in 1936. During the football season the band can be found at the Crystal Palace Football Ground at Selhurst Park, where they perform before the kick-off and at half-time. The band also give regular radio broadcasts under Dr Denis Wright, whose The White Rider had won a competition to find the test piece for the 1926 Nationals, Appointed musical director of CPB in 1933, Dr Wright broadcasts regularly with the band during the thirties, including in his performances a great many of his own original compositions and arrangements (still played today). The broadcasts are generally at midnight for the BBC Overseas Programme ; one is conducted by Sir Arthur Bliss. Each October until 1938, Dr Wright takes the band to the Crystal Palace (from October 1936, the Alexandra Palace) for the National Finals, where they compete in the Championship Section against the likes of Black Dyke, Brighouse and Rastrick and the invincible Fodens. Despite many good performances, CPB fail to appear in the prizes during these years although a regular appearance in the Massed Band Concert provides some consolation.
Percy Chessell, 1st Trombone, receives a gold watch in recognition of 21years loyal service.
1939 - 1945
In April 1941, the band gives its first war-time broadcast under Dr Wright. Despite war-work and call-up the band manages to keep going (albeit without the radio broadcasts) and by 1942, is said by the BB's Elegro to be keeping a good combination, with well-attended rehearsals, under its bandmaster Arthur Irons.
In June 1949, CPB give a concert to Grant Bros of Croydon, attended by 400 people, under the direction of their new conductor. Harry Lawn.
3rd November - CPB hold their AGM. The BB record that 1951 has been the band's most successful year since 1938 and they have again been engaged to play at first team matches at Selhurst Park. However, there are several vacancies and visitors are welcomed to the bandroom in Westow Hill, Upper Norwood.
Harry Lawn, who conducted the band between 1948 and 1953 (during which period they were again in the Championship section) records that, shortly after he left it, "the band collapsed and only the efforts of Charles Sherriff "saved the band from extinction."
5th July - The BB's South Sider reports that CPB have lost several members and have not applied for parks engagements. They are said to be working hard to get back into the contest arena and perform first-class engagements.
9th December - The BB's Chandos reports that all CPB positions are now filled. Under the baton of Charles Sheriff, the band has re-entered the contest field at Godalming and is hopeful of taking part in the area contest in 1962. Having spent over 40 years at their bandroom in Westow Hill, they have now moved to the Brotherhood in Knight's Hill, West Norwood.
1961 - 1987
In addition to a few band files, the main source of material for this period was the band's solo euphonious player, Roger Clements, who joined in 1961 as a 14-year old on second baritone and sadly died in February 2005. During the period a training band was started only to become defunct in the mid-70s at which point the band was down to five members.
Ian Whittaker, Principal Trombone player and, more recently, 1st Baritone, has added much interesting historic material. Until Mike Gray's appointment in 1986 there are many changes to the Band's MD in the 70's and early 80's including
Stan Willis(??-74), Derek Greenwood (74-76), Kevin Nichols (76), Malcolm 'Satch' Symonds (78-82), James Watson (82-83), Roger Phillips (83-84), Alan Wilson(??-86) and Ian Walsh (temporary).
The band continue to increase in number, reaching its current level of about 36 registered members in 1991.
Charlie Sherriff retires as MD after over 40 years service with the band
Several instruments are stolen from the bandroom.
S.M.P Atkins is appointed Deputy Conductor with responsibility for a "Learner's Class" Total membership is now 28.
The band rehearse in Tulse Hill School on Mondays and Fridays, learners on Wednesdays
Payment to band members is suspended due to financial problems. The fee had been 8/- (40p) per job.
The band, consisting of around 12 musicians, with no regular conductor plays at the Lambeth County Show.with several recruitment posters and a beautifully crafted sandwich board around the bandstand. This was the year that many of the local councils stopped booking regular brass bands for their bandstands.
During another concert at Eltham Plaisance, some young person starts to take pot shots at us with an air pistol . One hits the trombone player, another whistles right through the band without hitting anyone and another hits the bell of the Euphonium being played by Roger Clements (we still have the instrument and you can still see the dent). It stings the trombone player on the back of his neck. It happens quite quickly, in the middle of a piece and the band just carries on playing. A member of the audience takes action and they chase the lad away.
The Band is down to 4 regular players.Proposals to disband are defeated at the AGM by a small margin after lively discussion. Frank Clements writes to all past members asking them to rejoin,
Malcolm 'Satch' Symonds (ex Guards) is appointed as MD. Several Guards musicians join rehearsals for a 'blow'. Our ability to field a 'legal band' in the nationals is thus restricted.
Frank Clements retires as Chairman and is appointed 'President'
At Chelsea on 16th September the band plays at at the 'Silver Challenge Boule Tournament presented by the Bank Nationale de Paris. His Excellency Jean Sauvagnargues CCMG, the French Ambassador, threw the first cochonnet.
Some of the stars of Dad's Army are there so the Band plays the Dads Army Theme.
The composition of the band members for a Radio London Gig on December 24th is;
Sop Pete Booker, Solo Comet lan Walsh, 1st Cornet Stewart, 2nd Cornet Paul Kind, Rep/flugel Steve Cox
Solo Horn Mick Graham, 2nd. Horn Dennis Madgewick
1st. Baritone Bill Worsfield, 2nd. Baritone Len Arthur, Euphonium, Roger Clements
1st. Trombone Andy Flaxman, 2nd, Trombones lan Whittaker & G. Ballantyne, Bass Trombone Alan Luesby
Basses Steve Green, J. Geeson, C. Geeson
On 27th March, The Lord Chamberlain writes a very polite letter to the band Secretary refusing our kind offer to play at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, suggesting that a 'local' event might be more appropriate.
The band is on Robbie Vincent's Radio London "Dial a Carol" programme at Christmas this year (and other years around this time).
The Band get a film contract 'Knights and Emeralds', . This film is about a brass band which never got to finish any piece it started to play. Each time they start a piece, either something goes wrong or it is interrupted by a better, rival, group. Alan Wilson, conductor, plays all the parts in the better group. They hire professional musicians to play the brass band, but even though they write in wrong notes, it doesn't sound right. They couldn't play badly enough so CPB is called in! We join the Musicians Union and go to a recording studio in Wembley. To get the right effect we promote our back row cornet players to solo cornet and put the solo cornet players on the back row! It is great fun, deliberately making the music go wrong. Although M U rates are paid, the cash is paid to the band not the players.
The band buy a new maroon secondhand set of uniforms from Hendon Band. Our traditional scarlet jackets were consigned to history.
Alan Wilson persuades the band to start contesting again
The band rehearsals move to the Fidelis Convent, Central Hill, Crystal Palace
Mike Gray is appointed Musical Director.
Winners of the 'Band Call' Competition sponsored by the Croydon Advertiser
On 9th October 1993, the band win the SCABA South-east area contest and, for the first time since the 1950s, qualify for the National Finals on October 23rd, this time in the 4th section, where they come a creditable 4th from 8. They also have a successful excursion to Germany
October The band again reach the National 4th Section Finals at Wembley, this time achieving an excellent 5th place and top southern band.
October Back to Wembley this year, the band repeat their 5th place in the fourth section of the Nationals. Meanwhile, back in August CPB spent a long weekend in Holland, where the highlight was a concert in a food mall entertaining bemused shoppers.
3rd March Promoted to the 3rd section, the band achieve 4th place out of the 20 competing bands in the area qualifying contest. The first three bands go to Wembley.
A busy year sees another trip to Holland, this time performing at the Amsterdam Music Festival.