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Kennet Vale Brass
"The Kennet Vale Silver Band" was originally formed in 1934 by the amalgamation of Lockeridge Silver Prize Band and Overton Mission Band, the respective bandmasters being the late Mr Reg Stagg and the late Mr Fred Sprules.
Neither band had had a lengthy history. Lockeridge was founded around 1910 while the "Overton" dated back to the early part of the century and was attached to the Wesleyan Chapel. Its main function was to provide music for services indoors and out and it was indeed a prominent part of village life in those days.
Lockeridge band, it seems was more extrovert for fêtes and carnivals. Moreover, it had won a contest and that qualified members to proudly incorporate "Prize" into their title.
In the years leading up to the outbreak of World War 2 the band made headway in the contest field and in fact, qualified to compete at the Crystal Palace. The Instruments went into "moth balls" for the duration of the war but afterwards members resumed to enjoy many years of success and prominence.
Like many other bands; Kennet Vale then suffered something of a recession as skiffle groups and "rock and roll" came into fashion; boys and girls no longer wanted to play brass but preferred to try their hands at strumming a guitar. The new vogue and the ill-health of the bandmaster sent the band into decline and it was due entirely to the untiring efforts and perseverance of Mr Jack Watts, who took the baton, that Kennet Vale survived in a dark period for the brass band movement, Several bands went into oblivion including Marlborough Town.
At the end of the 1960s retirement age caught up with Mr Watts and he handed over as bandmaster to Mr Basil King who had completed a long career as an army bandsman and had the distinction of sounding the Last Post and Reveille at the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. Eventually, it was realised that Mr King's skill and expertise on the cornet was being lost so, while he continued to conduct and train the band, the services of Mr Maurice Arnold were sought as the new musical director.
"Gus" Arnold was another army trained musician, having served for many years with the Royal Artillery Band. He put his vast experience into practice and the band flourished and began to gain a reputation as one of the most entertaining concert bands in the area. Around this time the band dropped "Silver" from its title, becoming "The Kennet Vale Band".
The band's success at contesting also continued, going from a 4th section band in the early 1970s to a Championship Section Band in 1987.
Soon after this the membership started to decline but with the hard work and determination of a few of the remaining members they continued to function.
The Band are no longer a traditional 25 piece "Brass Band" but a 12 piece Brass Ensemble.
In 2008 the band changed its name again, this time to "Kennet Vale Brass" a title to better reflect their smaller format. In 2009 the band reached it's 75th anniversary and although no longer "contesting" or "parading" they continue to perform throughout the year and are in constant demand.