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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.

Hilgay Silver Band

Hilgay Brass Band - 1896 to 1900
Hilgay Excelsior Band - 1900 to 1972
Hilgay Silver Band - 1972 to current date

The exact date origin of the band is unknown, but a local newspaper cutting of 1896 reported the Hilgay Brass Band attending a function during that year. It is thought that the band was formed by a few men working on the land for the local farmers. The Rev Canon Beechy seems to be a prominent name in the early days of 1896-1899 also the Rev G MacDermott. At that time the band was known as the Hilgay Brass Band. In the early 1900's the band was to be renamed as Hilgay Excelsior Band and after a rest between 1961-1972 the band was reformed as Hilgay Silver Band. They are possible one of the first bands to join the EABBA. There were several members of families in the Band at that time, and that is still the case today - the same families, generations later.

The band managed to keep going during the second World War, although several members were called away on active service. Band masters after the war were Mr D Cox, Mr Parsonage and Mr W Alcock. Mr Long from Downham Market took over in the 1930's and his son Ben, recalls the band playing at Wimbotsham for a steeplechase meeting in 1920 and also at the Dedication of the War Memorial in Downham Market in 1921. The band also lead parades in Downham Market and Swaffham on Hospital Sunday and we have photographs showing these events.

During the 1960's interest declined and the band was unable to carry on, the equipment was stored away and in 1972 a public meeting was called to decide the fate of the bands property, several past members attended, together with enthusiastic youngsters from the village it was decided to reform the band. Lots of fund raising followed and during the next two years a full set of uniforms had been brought, instruments repaired or replaced and plans put forward for a new band room. Band practices took place at the village school until 1979 when a Band Room was erected in the centre of the village. Many engagements followed - Concerts, Fetes, etc. There was much fundraising to ensure the upkeep of the premises, uniforms, music, et al.

The receipt of a Lottery grant in 1995 enabled new instruments to be purchased to replace the old ones - some of which had been around for 50 years.

Contesting has always been a feature of the Band, even way back in days gone by, but none more so than during the past 10 years when, not only competing as a Band (reaching the National Finals twice, in 1991 and 1997), but also many members - Senior and Junior - have taken part, very successfully, in Solo and Quartet Contests. The Youth Band achieved the honour of becoming East Anglian Champions in 1992.

Centenary Celebrations took place in 1996. A march entitled 'HSB' was especially commissioned for the Band.