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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.

Llwydcoed Band

The band was originally formed in 1912 and according to former bandsmen was made up of members of the local Llwydcoed AFC. However during the Second World War rehearsals were suspended and the band restarted in 1947 with Will Woods as conductor and teacher.

In the 1950s, Bryn Davies took over the baton, and in the following years, the band had many contest successes, notably the C.I.S.W.O. championships in the Second Section in 1973 and again in the Third Section in 1983, and twice appearing at the National Championships.

During the 1990s, the band dwindled to a handful of players and ceased to compete in 1997. The band struggled to survive for a few years, until 2002 when Alan Davies took over the musical leadership of the band. During this period of time the band then rose from the Fourth Section to the third via 3 successive appearances at the National Finals in Harrogate.

During this period the band also produced its first professional recording, 'Memories' which features a selection of easy listening favourites arranged for brass band as well as original works.

In 2008, Rhodri Griffiths joined the band as Musical Director and remained in post until April of 2009. The band recently appointed Carl Saunders as its musical leader and competed in its first contest under his leadership at Ebbw Vale in May 2009. The band achieved a creditable second place finish in the traditional start to the contesting calendar in Wales. Unfortunately, Carl could not maintain his busy work schedule and leadership of an ambitious band hungry for success. So the band turned to Gary Davies, who has since led the to two first place positions and to clinch the third section championship in 2009 and then a fourth place in the National Finals at Harrogate in September 2010.

With more and more new players joining the band, the future and continued success of the band is looking bright. Llwydcoed Band aims to be a community-centered band supporting the life of the local area whilst offering players from a wide and diverse background and location an opportunity to play in a challenging and stimulating musical environment.

The band is proud of the level of local support and encouragement that it now enjoys and is particularly grateful for the financial support of local individuals and businesses. We are also extremely thankful for all the hard work and hundreds of hours of voluntary commitment that has been given to the band by the players, supporters, committee members and musical directors over the last 98 years.

It was originally formed when the young men of Llwydcoed village, mostly from the village football team the "Llwydcoed Robins " decided that there must be more to life than just Football, Chapel and Beer. After hearing the Ysguborwen Brass Band also known as the Aberdare Town Band performing at one of the football matches the seeds were sewn and it was decided to try and start the Llwydcoed Band. A meeting was called in the village, held in the Vestry of Horeb Chapel ( incidentally - where the Band rehearse today in 2000). A committee was formed with the officers being - Chairman - Gwilym Howells, Secretary - D T Watkins, Treasurer -James Beddoe.

The Officers of the committee were given the job of costing the formation of the Band, this meant the cost of instruments and the cost of a competent musician as a teacher. The committee went away and researched their project and came back with the following figures: Second-hand Instruments - £200 . 00 Teacher - 5 shillings per week When they came back to the Committee with these prices which were far in excess of any expectations, it was thought to be almost impossible to raise such sums of money. Discussions went on for long time until the Chairman and Treasurer, Gwilym Howells and James Beddoe offered a loan between them giving the £200. The only condition was that the Band should try and pay the money back over the next three or four years.

The Band worked so hard and were so successful in raising funds by holding Raffles, Whist Drives and even a Carnival the loans were actually paid back in just Two years. The Band also helped, their playing had become proficient enough to head the Hospital Carnival at Aberdare for which they were paid a fee of £4.00. With the debt cleared the Band went from strength to strength with the players gaining in proficiency. The Players of the Band should be commended on their advancement as in 1912 we must remember there was no Television, no Radio, and no Cinema and the only music they experienced locally would be from the Music Halls, and Oratorios and Cantatas that were often performed around the Chapels.

During the 1914-18 World War, the Band was able to carry on as most of its members being coal miners were exempt from conscription. All to often they would meet the train at Aberdare Station to March and escort soldiers home after being wounded on the French Battlefields. With the end of the War came a sense of normality and again the Band gained in strength so much so that it was common place to see the Band return from Competition with either a Shield or a silver or gold Cup beating all comers in their class.Sadly occasionally a member of the Band or Bandsman's family would die and often the Band were requested to lead the funeral procession the two miles to the Cemetery marching in slow time and playing the Funeral March from SAUL. I still remember some of these sombre moments in the Bands history, but as small boy I remember the excitement of seeing the huge black stallions prancing in front of the hearse following the Band as well as the feeling of sadness for the bereaved.

The Village has undergone many hard times over the years. One of which was the local Coal Mine Owner creating a Lock Out, this meant all the miners in the village (all the Men) were out of work, no work meant no money and no money meant no food, soon the village was in dire straights. The Llwydcoed Band rose to the occasion when after much discussions they decided to go around West Wales to try and raise funds for their village by playing on street corners and collecting money. The Band set off and walked to Abercrave where they started playing and collecting using the sealed collecting boxes they had taken with them. From here they walked on to Ystradgynlais, then Ystalyfera, and onto Pontardawe and Amanford sleeping at night in barns, billiard halls, schools, pubs or anywhere there was shelter. The people of West Wales were very sympathetic and supportive of the people of Llwydcoed. They, fortunately were not on strike at this time and were able to help the cause. The Money collected was sent back with one of the Committee members of the Band regularly to the Village Committee who in turn would distribute the funds to all the needy families in the village. It must be remembered that without the hard work of the Band many villagers would have starved to death during this time, as it was, only one young woman was actually reported to have starved and died.

The Bands history is not just full of tragedy but include many interesting events, I remember as a playing member of the Band enjoying playing at many varied locations including the Pontypridd and Aberdare Parks, the Builth Wells Flower Show and traveling by open top Charabang, playing in the Means Test Marches to support the plea for work by the unemployed. One of these Marches was from the Corner House at Llwydcoed all the way to the main street at Mountain Ash, and the band playing all the way. We did this march a second time when we escorted three men from the village (two of them being Band Members), namely -Mr. Will Davies, Jim Davies and Andrew Davies. The three carried on from Mountain Ash and in fact walked on to London and the Houses of Parliament to protest about there being NO work in the Cynon Valley. One of the more amusing incidents was at the Aberdare Park. in the mid 1930's the Band stand was located on the island in the middle of the Park Lake, and for anyone to get to it involved rowing over on the boats. On one occasion one of the older members Mr. Robert Griffiths refused to climb into one of the boats, he said he would become sea sick even over the thirty yards of water. Eventually after much ribbing and humiliation he climbed aboard, needless to say the youngsters in the Band waited till the boat was halfway across and began rocking the boat, some of the older players began protesting and as with all youngsters this just made them rock even more, the inevitable then happened and the boat and all contents were tipped over into the lake, instruments and all. For us youngsters it was hilarious but the older players weren't a bit amused, for many weeks, we were in the doghouse.

During the 1930's the band was taught and conducted by two Bandmasters - Mr. James Oliver and Benny Grifiths. Inevitably, with the Second World War it became increasingly more difficult to keep the band going so it was decided eventually in 1942 to suspend the Band's rehearsals.1947, the War over for a few years, it was decided to restart the Band - as a Junior Band , and the main instigators of this were Messrs Henry J. Davies, Trev Grifiths, Dilwyn Davies, Will Lee, Mansel Edwards and Idris Price.

The Band started with twenty two youngsters and those named above with Mr Bill Woods as Conductor / Teacher. Soon the interest grew with all the youngsters then being from the village, rehearsals were held on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The committee decided at one time as an incentive to the youngsters to give a prize of a Gold Watch to the best attendee over twelve months. The prize could not be given as nobody had missed a rehearsal. They improved and became good enough to enter competitions travelling as far afield as Oxford on occasions and in 1952 winning first prize in the National Eisteddfod.

In 1959 there was a change of Conductor an ex player in the old Band Mr W.B.Davies took the Baton. With him the Band went on to win many prestigious prizes including National Eisteddfod (twice), C.I.S.W.O. Championships at Blackpool and area qualifiers enabling the Band to play in the Royal Albert Hall, London. In recent years the band has not been so successful due mainly to the lack of interest with the youngsters, certainly in Llwydcoed, and the loss of some of the more experienced players leaving to go to other bands and go to University. Currently there are 31 registered members with the band but of these only one is from the Village of Llwydcoed ( he is the Great grandson of the founding Chairman and is the current Secretary ).

Today our membership consists of players from as far a field as Llantwit Major (approx. 50 miles away) , Quakers Yard and Treharris, Aberdare, Cwmaman, and Merthyr Tydfil. As a point of interest, the Instruments originally purchased cost £200 but a new set now would cost somewhere in the region of £75,000.The Band has lessons for Junior player, details of these can be obtained from the Secretary of the Band.