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Highworth Silver Band
Highworth Silver Band (HSB) is known to have been established by 1887.
According to the North Wiltshire Herald "the Highworth Brass Band paraded the streets and played selections of music very creditably". This was for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887.
There was earlier brass band activity in the town. The Highworth Oddfellows Band is known to have played at a Peace event in 1856 likely to have marked the end of the Crimean War. This group had disbanded in some acrimony by 1860 and no records have been found of other Highworth-based banding until 1887.
Since 1887 HSB has continued as an independent outfit, supporting itself by subscription and performance with occasional grant or charity augmentation. There has been at least one period when band activity was suspended - a period just before World War I is noted in band records - but the band remained in existence retaining its property: music, instruments and uniforms and resumed its activities.
It was not until 1925 that the band decided to become an orthodox brass band. Hitherto there had been clarinets and perhaps other wind instruments. It is not known but likely that this was the time when the name became Highworth Silver Band. The instrumentation change enabled the band to enter Brass competitions which it did from the 1930s to the 1990s gaining many good results in fourth and third section contests. It is not currently contesting.
The same family names turn up throughout the twentieth century in HSB's records which date back to 1899. Half a dozen families or more are recorded as providing more than one playing member and this is repeated in the following generations. This happy tradition has somewhat fallen off as Highworth itself has changed and expanded since the 1970s although at least one of the traditional families remains represented.
The band's first female member joined in 1947 followed by many since. There have been junior bands and training classes from time to time.
HSB bought its own premises, a redundant Wesleyan Chapel, in 1964 and this action brought many benefits and has helped the band to flourish and ensured its survival. Rehearsals had been in Highworth public houses - The Fishes (which has not itself survived) and the Saracen's Head.
HSB continues as a performing brass band and is open to all who want to play whether experienced or not. The band celebrated its centenary in 1987 with a very active and successful year which enabled a complete replacement of uniforms.
Highworth Silver Band thanks Jackie James from whose 1986 article (published in A History of Highworth, Part 2) all of the above is drawn.