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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
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
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
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 ).
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.